Have you ever wondered if your dog can eat blueberries? The short answer is yes ... blueberries are safe for dogs.
In fact, there are lots of good reasons you should give your dog blueberries. These powerhouse berries may be small … but they're full of health benefits for your dog.
So let’s jump into the reasons why you should add blueberries to your dog’s diet.
Why Your Dog Needs Blueberries
Do you take vitamins? If you do, it’s likely because you want to make sure that, whatever you eat, you get enough vitamins every day.
Well, blueberries are kind of like a natural multivitamin for your dog. Unlike many other fruits, blueberries are quite low in sugar ... and that means they're low in calories.
They’re also high in healthful nutrients. And the real power of blueberries is that they have the most antioxidants of any fruit.
Nutrients In Blueberries
Blueberries are chock-full of vitamins ... like vitamins A, C, E, K, folate and choline.
In fact, one cup of blueberries has almost a quarter of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C for people ... and 36% of the recommended vitamin K.
And they deliver some minerals too ... like manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium.
Just that list should be enough to grab your attention ...
... But I want to focus on antioxidants.
Antioxidants In Blueberries
Vitamins A, C and E are all antioxidants ... and so are minerals like manganese. And that blue-purple color in blueberries? It comes from flavonoid pigments called anthocyanins.
Antioxidants are superheroes for your dog's cells. They protect against the damage caused by oxidation … when oxygen interacts with the body's cells.
During oxidation, your dog’s body produces damaged cells called free radicals. These damaged cells lack an important molecule. To make themselves whole again, they steal that molecule from other cells. This starts a chain reaction.
Free radicals are a natural byproduct of metabolism. But free radicals also come from toxins your dog gets exposed to. And your dog can get those toxins from all kinds of things in his life, like ...
- Processed dog food
- Flea, tick and heartworm preventives (pesticides)
- Yard chemicals
- Household cleaning products
Even if you don't use any of these ... toxins are hard to avoid in today's environment. If you live in a city ... you can be sure one of your neighbors uses fertilizer and weed killer on his lawn. And then there is pollution.
And if left unchecked, too many free radicals can lead to damaged DNA and chronic disease. Your dog needs antioxidants to help control the free radical damage. Because antioxidants help protect your dog's cells from harm.
This will slow the aging process and boost your dog's immune system.
And that isn’t all that blueberries and antioxidants do for your dog.
Health Benefits Of Blueberries
There are a surprising number of studies on blueberries. And each one provides more insight into how they support health.
Here are just some of the things research shows blueberries can do.
1. Help Fight Cancer
About half of all dogs will get cancer. So you want to do what you can to try to prevent it.
Blueberries may help. Extensive research shows that berries can lower the risks of many kinds of cancer.
Various studies have shown how berries help prevent or manage some of these cancers …
- Gastrointestinal tract cancers ... like colon cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
Berries can also manage these contributors to tumor growth …
- Oxidative stress
- Chronic inflammation
- Obesity or metabolic syndrome (shown to increase the probability of cancer)
- Angiogenesis (new blood vessels that supply tumors with blood)
And they do it without any negative side effects …
Antioxidants like polyphenols and anthocyanins can also help reduce cancer cell growth ... and increase apoptosis (cancer cell death).
2. Support Brain Health
There are studies that show blueberries have strong effects on brain health. They help prevent memory loss in people.
They can slow the brain's aging process, which minimizes cognitive changes. One placebo-controlled study looked at individuals age 65-70. It found that blueberries improved cognitive tests in the people who ate berries.
3. Reduce Chronic Inflammation
Blueberries reduce chronic inflammation to help prevent disease.
Inflammation is a natural process ... and sometimes it's a good thing. The body needs it to heal injuries and wounds.
But chronic inflammation is harmful and can lead to many diseases including …
- Cardiovascular disease
Studies show that anthocyanins in blueberries control inflammation in the body … and this reduces the risk of chronic disease.
4. Improve Heart Health
We mentioned blueberries can control inflammation to lower the risk of heart disease ... And research shows that blueberries also reduces arterial stiffness and improves vascular function.
5. Manage Obesity
Improved gut health can also help manage obesity ... and blueberries can do that too! (More detail about that coming up next).
6. Boost Gut Health
A healthy gut helps support a healthy body. More than 80% of the immune system comes from the gut. So you must support a healthy microbiome for your dog.
You can use probiotics to help balance intestinal flora. But now it turns out ... blueberries may also be good for your dog's gut.
A 2018 University of Georgia studied the effects of blueberries on various elements of gut health in rats.
They found that blueberry supplementation can improve the gut microbiome ... and even help heal leaky gut syndrome! Anthocyanins are part of the reason for this effect ... because of their anti-inflammatory properties.
Blueberry supplementation helped lower systemic inflammation.
Liver health and insulin sensitivity also improved ... and that suggests another way blueberries may help manage obesity (as well as diabetes). And the fiber in blueberries can improve digestive health. Since fiber is nondigestible, it acts as a prebiotic and feeds the healthy bacteria in the gut.
Researchers at several Chinese universities analyzed studies on dietary fiber. They found fiber helped relieve constipation ... so if your dog strains to poop sometimes, add a few blueberries to his meal!
7. Manage Urinary Tract Infections
You might think of cranberries when your dog has a UTI ... but their cousin, blueberries, can be helpful too. Studies have found blueberries can prevent and reduce urinary tract infection symptoms.
They work because they stop bacteria (like E.coli) from sticking to the urinary tract wall. This means bacteria can’t invade the tissues and cause infection.
8. Preserve Eye Health
Dogs are prone to many of the same age-related eye conditions we are. Blueberries may also help stop eye problems from developing.
One study looked at Nutrients For The Aging Eye. It found that many nutrients in blueberries could be helpful. Vitamin C is especially good for the eyes ... and blueberries offer a great source of vitamin C
9. Recover From Exercise
In one study, sled dogs ate blueberries to boost antioxidant levels ... so they could recover faster after competition. Blueberries helped reduce post-exercise oxidative stress.
But your dog doesn't need to be an endurance athlete to benefit from blueberries ... so give him some after he's been for a walk or run.
How To Add Them Into Your Dog's Diet
First of all, always use fresh, organic blueberries if you can.
Buy organic to reduce the chances of pesticides … which can lead to the oxidative stress you want to avoid. Also be sure the berries are free of mold, which is toxic to health.
Once you have some nice blueberries … you can add them right into your dog’s meals. Or you can give them on their own as a delicious treat.
If your dog's on a fresh, raw diet ... you can add blueberries with other fruits and veggies when you prepare his meals.
Even if you feed a processed diet, blueberries are a great nutrient-rich addition. But what about when blueberries aren’t in season?
You can use a berry supplement. Or buy frozen blueberries, to keep the benefits in his dish year-round.
In fact, if you have too many fresh blueberries, just freeze them. Freezing them may even increase the availability of antioxidants. Frozen blueberries can get a bit mushy when thawed … so your dog may prefer them straight from the freezer.
If your dog isn’t used to fiber-rich foods, start slow. This will help avoid an upset stomach or loose stool.
And if you're lucky enough to have a blueberry farm nearby ... pick as many as you can! The whole family can enjoy all the benefits of blueberries.