Any good dog owner knows the value of finding a good brand of dog food for their furry friend that contains quality ingredients that meet their nutritional needs, but finding a good, healthy snack for your dog can be difficult sometimes.
Most dog owners are aware that some fruits are toxic to dogs, but what about blueberries?
Blueberries are not toxic to dogs and are actually a great healthy snack. Containing antioxidants and nutrients, a moderate consumption of blueberries can help boost a dog’s immune system, cognitive function, and gut health.
There’s a lot to unpack about why blueberries are such a beneficial treat for dogs. The rest of this article will explore the benefits blueberries may have on dogs as well as some exceptions to the rule.
Blueberries Contain Vitamin C
Blueberries contain a good amount of vitamin C, which can help boost the immune system and fight various kinds of infections. While dogs do synthesize vitamin C naturally, a small boost is beneficial can help ward off respiratory illness, cancer, and bacterial infections.
Sick dogs and old dogs are especially receptive to a vitamin C supplement, including dogs with bladder stones and abscesses. Dogs with arthritis will benefit from the collagen-supporting properties of vitamin C.
Collagen, which gives cartilage its flexibility and support, is vital in the articulation of the joints, so a vitamin C boost can help protect joints from impacts and reduce pain in dogs who suffer from chronic joint issues.
For healthy dogs who are already producing enough vitamin C, a little boost is still beneficial to reduce the risk and severity of viral or bacterial infections by increasing white blood cell activity.
Moreover, vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine and may reduce your dog’s reaction to common allergens.
Antioxidants in Blueberries Ward Off Disease
Antioxidants, which remove oxidizing agents in a living organism, are abundant in blueberries.
Antioxidants help prevent the spread of free radicals, which can cause cellular damage in excessive amounts.
A byproduct of metabolic processes, an overabundance of free radicals can cause oxidative stress, leading to a host of issues including the following:
- Premature aging
- Heart Disease
As such, antioxidants are a beneficial supplement to prevent the buildup of free radicals.
Even better, antioxidants can slow the aging of the brain, making blueberries a beneficial treat for older dogs. The most prevalent antioxidizing agent in blueberries is polyphenol, which is greatly beneficial in warding off diseases before they take hold.
Blueberries also contain high amounts of three plant compounds with antioxidizing properties.
Quercetin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and can lower blood pressure and blood sugar. Anthocyanins are another plant compound found in blueberries that also reduce the risk of heart disease.
Myricetin is another flavanol that can reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer.
Vitamin K in Blueberries Promotes Heart Health and Bone Density
In addition to the bone-boosting potential of vitamin C, blueberries also contain vitamin K, which is great if you have a breed that needs a lot of exercise.
Vitamin K is beneficial for appropriately clotting the blood, preventing your dog from bruising as easily, and ensuring that the body absorbs calcium properly.
It also promotes a healthy metabolism and is one of the strongest preventers of heart disease. Vitamin K stops the calcification of arteries so that plaques cannot form. In addition, vitamin K has a history of effectively battling many kinds of cancer in dogs.
Vitamin K deficiency has also been linked to a higher risk of getting cavities or gum disease. Lastly, vitamin K also plays an important role in brain function, quite possibly warding off mental issues in dogs.
It’s important to note that the primary and more important source of vitamin K (vitamin K2, to be specific) should be administered through their main diet of unprocessed, grass-fed meat, and that vitamin K1 found in blueberries, while beneficial, is not as easily absorbed or used by the body.
As such, if you want your dog to benefit from vitamin K, you should get them the best unprocessed food, not rely on a treat like blueberries; however, the properties of vitamin K1 in blueberries can only do good things for your dog’s health.
High Fiber in Blueberries is Good for Gut Health
Another great benefit of blueberries is their fiber content. Fiber is beneficial for maintaining good gut bacteria in the body. It can also reduce inflammation and clean out the mucous membranes.
In short, blueberries are a nice touch-up to make sure your dog’s tummy is happy and healthy, improving processes that aid digestion, clean out the gut, and promote proper bowel movements.
Fiber also prevents helpful antioxidants from being absorbed in the stomach and allows them to travel safely to the colon. The byproducts of the bacteria that feed on fiber also produce T cells in the immune system that fight disease and prevents a buildup of bad bacteria.
It also binds toxins into stool, aiding in their removal from the body. Raw fed dogs can suffer from low fiber, which can lead them to have constipation and chalky white stool.
Blueberries pack a good punch in that they not only contain antioxidants that reduce the risk of by preventing the buildup of disease-causing free radicals, but they also contain the fiber necessary to make sure those antioxidants aren’t discarded and are properly absorbed.
Side Effects of Dogs Consuming Blueberries
A dog should be fed a dynamic diet of organic, grass-fed chicken, beef, and turkey, among other meats, with a smaller integration of greens. Any kind of treat or snack in addition to their main diet should be fed in moderation. This rule, of course, applies to blueberries.
Eating too many blueberries can make your dog sick, plain and simple. Blueberry juice isn’t a very good idea since it’s much more difficult to monitor how much your dog is consuming as well as the amount of sugar in the juice.
Never feed your dog dried blueberries, since dried fruits can pull fluid from the intestinal track, leading to severe dehydration.
Some dogs can react negatively to fruits like blueberries, so if you’re going to give them to your dog, feed them no more than two per day. If it’s your dog’s first time eating blueberries, stick with one every few days and monitor their reaction.
If you notice your dog seems to have an upset tummy afterwards, blueberries may not be a good fit for your dog.
Darkening or the presence of black specs in stool is common and perfectly normal (in both dogs and humans) when consuming blueberries, but you should be on the lookout for diarrhea after consuming blueberries. This is a key signal that your dog’s stomach isn’t responding well to the new food.
On the other hand, you need to make sure your dog is getting enough fresh water to meet their needs; otherwise, the soluble fiber in blueberries can have the opposite effect and harden up your dog’s stool, causing uncomfortable constipation.
Over a period of a few days, if you don’t notice any allergic reaction or tummy issues, you can safely assume your dog is cleared to eat blueberries on occasion. Puppies, however, are the exception.
They have underdeveloped digestive systems and their stomach will not appreciate a foreign food like blueberries. Simply put, they don’t need the fiber in blueberries, and are more likely to suffer side effects from consuming them.
If your dog is regularly consuming blueberries, you may notice a staining of the teeth. Of course, there are no health implications to having blue-stained teeth, but many pet owners might find this side effect unappealing.
If you’re worried about stained teeth, make blueberries a now-and-then treat rather than feeding daily. You can also use a toothbrush and baking soda paste to give your dog’s teeth a good clean.
You want to do this anyway to prevent tooth decay from the amount of sugar in blueberries.
Blueberries, therefore, are a great snack for dogs in moderation. They promote good gut health, improve cognitive function, and contain useful antioxidants. In addition, they have beneficial immune-supporting properties that can reduce the risk of disease in the long term.
There’s no good reason why dogs can’t have blueberries, but some dogs do have sensitive stomachs, so if you notice your dog experiencing diarrhea after eating blueberries, then they are likely causing more harm than good and aren’t suited for your dog.
You should only feed your dog blueberries a couple times a day, if that, and your primary focus when it comes to ensuring your dog is healthy and happy should be meeting their dietary requirements.
Trying to address underlying health issues using blueberries just isn’t practical; it’s only a treat, after all. That being said, blueberries are a wholesome addition to the diet of most dogs and have a good range of positive benefits.
With the properties of blueberries demystified, the only question left is: does doggy want a treat?