Are you wondering whether blueberries are safe for dogs? Here’s the quick answer to this reader question.
I’ve heard blueberries are poisonous to dogs, is this true? What other foods shouldn’t a dog eat?
This is a common question, as many foods eaten by humans can be dangerous for dogs. Things like chocolate and tea, for example, can be poisonous for a dog to eat.
But are blueberries safe for dogs? The short answer is yes, in moderation. In fact, a small handful of blueberries can make a tasty and nutritious treat for dogs of any size.
This is because blueberries contain a range of nutrients that are beneficial to dogs. These include antioxidants, vitamin C, and fibre.
The antioxidants, in particular, are thought to fight free radicals which cause cell damage in dogs. For example, a study on sled dogs found that supplementing blueberries protected against oxidative damage, meaning these berries may reduce the risk of diseases such as dementia.
Blueberries also contain phytochemicals that may be linked to a dog’s ability to fight cancer. As a bonus, blueberries are low in calories so your dog won’t put on weight if given them as a treat. The small size also means you don’t need to chop them up.
With any new foods, it’s important to closely monitor your dog. A few blueberries eaten on a walk isn’t going to harm your dog, but if he eats too many you might find he gets diarrhoea – especially if he’s not used eating them. Allergies are uncommon, but some dogs may react poorly to new types of food. If you have any concerns or worries about feeding blueberries to your dog, make sure you contact your vet.
So in short, as a treat blueberries are safe for dogs. Just don’t give them too many until they are used to eating them.
“Many owners ask me ‘how much is too much’?” says vet Dr Linda Simon. “For toy breeds, I’d stick to just 4 or 5 berries a few times a week. Larger dogs can eat a tablespoon or two at each serving.”
Blueberries aren’t the only type of berry dogs can eat. Your pup can also have strawberries and blackberries. Both contain many of the same healthy vitamins and minerals – although you need to be careful not to feed too many sugary strawberries. Make sure pits are removed from fruits that have them, such as nectarines, as these can cause choking, blockages, and may contain a chemical that turns into cyanide.
Foods That a Dog Shouldn’t Eat
There are a variety of foods that aren’t safe for your dog, and you should be careful not to leave these lying around the house. Here are some of the most common:
- Onions and Garlic
- Salt in large quantities
- Tea & coffee
- Sugary foods
- Fatty meats such as bacon
- Dried wild seaweed
- Raw meats (such as chicken) as they can contain salmonella
- Candy (particularly those containing the sugar substitute xylitol)
“While dogs should not eat any candy, the greatest risk is from a sugar substitute called xylitol,” says vet Dr Linda Simon. Xylitol is highly toxic and even relatively small amounts can lead to hypoglycemia, seizures, and even death. “In recent years, I’ve treated several dogs who’ve eaten this in protein bars and supplements, so we need to be cautious and keep all of our human snacks away from our pooches,” she adds.
Note: This is not a complete list. If you’re not sure about the safety of a certain type of food, make sure you consult your vet before feeding it to your pet.