Low-calorie and high in vitamin C, blueberries are a delicious and nutritious treat for humans looking for a healthy way to satisfy their sweet tooth.
But are blueberries also a good snack for our pups?
“Absolutely!” says Dr. Sharon Williams, a veterinarian at the Dr. Michael Tuder and Associates animal clinics in New Jersey. “They’re sweet, but they don’t have a ton of sugar. Some dogs really love them.”
The Benefits of Blueberries
According to the National Institutes of Health, a diet rich in foods that contain fiber and Vitamin C (like blueberries) has been linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease and obesity in humans, and may help prevent everything from cancer to the common cold.
And there’s no reason the same benefits wouldn’t apply to dogs, says Williams. The fiber boost in a serving of blueberries may also help the digestive system of dogs who are constantly eating whatever they find on the kitchen floor, she says
Blueberries are lower in sugar than a lot of other fruits, she says. Plus they’re easier to serve than strawberries, which are a fine treat for dogs but much less practical because they’re messy and may stain your clothing or furniture.
Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, says Williams. Antioxidants may help prevent free radicals from damaging the dog’s cells, leaving them more at risk of developing a sickness or disease, she says.
A diet rich in antioxidants may be especially beneficial to older dogs.
“Getting rid of free radicals also helps promote brain health and can be especially helpful to geriatric dogs,” says Williams.
Blueberries are so low in sugar, she says, they can even be given to dogs with diabetes. Of course, it is always a good idea to talk to your veterinarian before introducing new foods into the diet of a dog with special needs.
How to Serve Blueberries to Your Dog
Blueberries can be served at every mealtime, says Williams. The proper amount of blueberries will depend on your dog’s size (discuss portions with your veterinarian) and blueberries can be mashed into a dog’s kibble.
Some dogs like to eat frozen blueberries, but Williams warns that these could be a choking hazard.
Blueberries also make for a great training treat, Williams says
“You can do tricks for an hour and you’re not going to give your dog too many calories,” says Williams. ”You won’t make them chubby with blueberries.”
While blueberries can be an allergen to some dogs, Williams says that it’s very rare.
Granted, you don’t want to feed a dog only blueberries, she says. They’re not well rounded and won’t support all of a dog’s nutritional needs on their own. And of course don’t assume that because blueberries are safe, all fruits are safe for dogs. Grapes, for example, can cause renal failure, she says.
Helen Anne Travis is a freelance writer based in Tampa, FL. She also writes for CNN, The Guardian and The Globe and Mail.