Want to switch up treats for your pooch? If that’s the case, then you might be considering blackberries. But are they really a good option for dogs? Let’s find out.
Can Dogs Have Blackberries?
Yes, they can. Here’s a fun fact, Blackberries really aren’t berries! This small fruit is actually called aggregate and is found in the American and European variety, both of which are nutritionally similar. Technically, dogs are scavengers, meaning they would rather prey on a small animal than a blackberry bush but hey! There’s good news, your domesticated dogs can enjoy this yummy treat if given in moderation.
Are Blackberries Healthy For Dogs?
Blackberries are a type of fruit and all fruits and vegetables are good as occasional treats for your mutts. Dogs are carnivores and so, their digestive systems are physiologically programmed to receive and breakdown meat but because of the health benefits of fruits, they can be made a part of their diet too. Moderation is key when it comes to carbohydrates like berries, meaning no more than 10% of their daily calorie intake.
Carbohydrates are sugars and if having sugary meals can’t be good for you, the same goes for your furry friend too. A handful of this treat could do the trick. But if exceeded, blackberries can produce digestive system problems. A study showed that when given the choice, dogs prefer protein over carbohydrates. The exact protein: fat: carb ratio they prefer is 30:63:7. Another study showed that dogs naturally eat very few carbohydrates.
Population-based and clinical studies show that berries improve the quality and balance of lipids as well as the antioxidant capacity of the blood. Dark berries when consumed regularly, improve cardiac health. They have also been recommended by an expert herbalist, Juliet de Bairacli Levy, for vascular health. They improve glucose metabolism in old dogs with diabetes as well as healthy ones.
Nutritional Value of Blackberries
Blackberries are low in calories, which means, you can feed them even to a dog that might be a little overweight. They are low in sugar and high in water and other nutrients such as antioxidants which help get rid of the pesky free radicals. These radicals can cause damage to cells which might lead to cancer. They work by suppressing inflammatory molecules and protecting cellular DNA from cancer-causing mutations.
Not only do they reduce cancer cell proliferation, but also cause cancer cell death by a process called apoptosis and also prevent metastasis, which is the spread of cancer.
Anthocyanin, an antiviral pigment in blackberries, reduces the risk of heart disease. It also improves brain function and even reduces age-related cognitive decline. It’s especially effective in senior dogs with dementia as it improves the blood circulation to the brain and cell to cell communication.
Blackberries also have dietary fiber, which improves the digestive system by helping with constipation, diarrhea and even obesity and makes dogs feel full earlier.
With that, blackberries also contain Manganese, which helps in the synthesis of collagen and in connective tissue disorders, Vitamin K which helps with clotting, and Vitamin C which is a precursor for serotonin, the happy hormone that will improve your dog’s mood. Serotonin also converts to melatonin which improves sleep in dogs.
Vitamins A, B, and E which build the immune system, synthesize hormones, help with growth, reduce inflammation and metabolize foods while improving energy levels. They also have Omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are responsible for a shiny coat, strong teeth and bones, and healthy skin.
Which Berries to Feed Your Dog?
Blackberries contain Xylitol which can be toxic for dogs when consumed in large quantities. The same amount fed to a large and small dog may vary because of their weight. What may not be harmful to the former may cause stomach upset or rash in the latter.
Some safe berries for dogs include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries. Make sure to stay away from cherries, holly berries, juniper berries, baneberries, pokeberries, mistletoe and dogwood berries.
How to Feed Blackberries?
In calories, a 1-cup serving of raw blackberries provides 61.9 calories, which is not bad for a treat. But the rule of thumb for treats should be that these yummy snacks do not make more than 10% of your dog’s total calories for the day, the other 90% should be dog food that’s balanced in nutrients required by your pup. Make sure to keep the portion size small.
At first, because of their texture, blackberries may be hard to introduce to your canine friend. Like any other fruit, wash and clean them first. If your dog is small, make it easier for them to eat by cutting berries into small bits or just puree or mash them.
You can also mix these mashed berries in yogurt and freeze them to later serve as a frozen treat. Another way to incorporate blackberries in a dog’s diet is in dog biscuits or even cheesecake. If you would like to feed your dog store-bought frozen blackberries, make sure to check the label for toxic or harmful additives.
And no, you can’t feed your dog blackberry jam, since jam has added sugar, which might not be toxic, but in large quantities, it can cause stomach problems.
Just a heads up, before you add tasty new treats to your pup’s diet, make sure to consult a vet or a canine nutritionist, especially if your dog has an illness or an allergy.
The Final Verdict
So, there you have it, people. Dogs can eat blackberries and enjoy this delicious treat since it is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which are essential for boosting your dog’s immune system, eliminating free radicals, improving bodily functions and general health.
However, since blackberries are filled with carbohydrates, they are quite high in sugars. So, your dog cannot live solely on fruits like blackberries. They are not a replacement for your dog’s usual diet which should ideally be protein-based and should also include healthy fat. Yet there is no reason why your dog can’t eat blackberries.