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Can dogs eat blueberries? What you should know about offering them as a treat

Certain foods we eat, like spicy chili and garlic-laden pasta, are obviously unsafe for dogs. You might think fruit is safe for your pup across the board, but some fruits, such as grapes, raisins, and persimmons, can cause everything from diarrhea to seizures–and potentially even death. However, many fruits are nutritious and high in fiber, so how do you know which ones are safe to give your pup as a treat? You’ve come to the right place if you’ve ever wondered, “Can dogs eat blueberries?” We’ll give you the scoop on whether or not your pooch can enjoy these nutrient-rich berries as a tasty treat. 

A French Bulldog sniffing at a tray of fruit.

Are blueberries toxic to dogs? 

A known superfood, blueberries are full of antioxidants (which help fight cell damage), potassium, vitamin C, and phytoflavinoids. For humans, including blueberries in your diet can help reduce inflammation and decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease. You might be thinking, “Sure, those are the benefits for humans, but can my dog safely eat them?” We have some good news: blueberries make a wonderful, low-calorie alternative to store-bought dog treats. Even better: blueberries contain almost no fat, so you won’t have to worry about your pooch packing on the pounds. 

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How many blueberries can a dog have in a day? 

According to Dr. Deborah Bayazit, the medical director and co-founder of Brilliance Veterinary Care, you should avoid feeding your dog canned blueberries. Also a no-no: blueberries with added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Some artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, can be toxic to your pup. Instead, Dr. Bayazit recommends thoroughly washing organic blueberries before feeding them to your pup. Depending on your dog’s size, he can safely eat 8-10 blueberries a day. In addition to doling them out one by one as a snack, you can also mix them with your dog’s food. If your dog enjoys blueberries, consider using them as a treat during training sessions. However, you shouldn’t feed your dog too many berries at a time until you know how he responds to them. Some dogs can suffer from stomach discomfort and even diarrhea after consuming blueberries. 

Which treats should you feed a dog?

Feeding your dog store-bought treats is fine on occasion, but feeding your dog too many could lead to weight gain. Even more concerning, a study conducted by the National Health Institute found that store-bought treats contain butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), a fat preservative–and known carcinogen–that’s been shown to cause tumors in laboratory animals. Similarly, rawhide bones are made from strips of dried animal skins. Even though the treats are placed in a salty brine to halt their decay, the vast majority of rawhide treats are manufactured in China.

A puppy eating blueberries from a terra cotta bowl.

What does that mean for your dog? The rawhide treats take weeks, sometimes even months, to arrive at their final destination. That’s a long time to spend in transit, and the animal hide is slowly decaying all the while. To make matters worse, rawhide chews are difficult for your dog to digest, often causing obstruction in the digestive tract when dogs swallow large pieces of these dangerous treats. With store-bought chews presenting so many potential hazards to your dog’s health, making your own dog treats or choosing fruits and vegetables as treats is a much better–not to mention a much safer–option.

What fruit can a dog eat?

In addition to blueberries, there are numerous other fruits your dog can safely enjoy in small doses. These include:

  • Strawberries: Rich in potassium, vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber, strawberries are a fantastic treat for your pup. Just make sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces or mash them up to create a tasty, juicy snack. 
  • Bananas: Bananas are loaded with potassium and perfectly safe for dogs to eat. However, don’t let your pup get hold of the peels, as they’re almost impossible for dogs to digest. 
  • Watermelon: Because watermelon is made up mostly of water, this scrumptious, dog-safe treat is excellent for the summer months. Please make sure to remove the rind and any seeds (even the light ones) from the watermelon before feeding it to your dog.

Dogs can also eat blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, pineapples, and pears in moderation. As long as you peel the fruit, your dog might enjoy mango and orange slices. Apples and peaches (with the respective core and pit removed) can also be a tasty treat for some pups.

A Golden Retriever balancing a blueberry on his nose.

Homemade is always best

With store-bought treats being potentially unsafe for your dog, why not feed him delicious fruits like blueberries instead? Always start off slowly in case your pup doesn’t have an easy time digesting fruit. Lastly, please consult your veterinarian if your pooch is obese or suffers from chronic health conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, before feeding your dog any new treat. 

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