Typical dog food, especially in kibble form, used to pretty much have two main kinds of ingredients: protein and starch. The protein might have come from various kinds of animal byproducts – chicken and beef being the most common – and the starch usually came from wheat, corn, or rice. A lot of dog foods still have this basic formula.
However, as our dogs have come to be seen as family members rather than as mere pets, health-conscious pet parents (and the food manufacturers that service them) have begun to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their dog’s diet.
Can I give my dog blueberries?
While there are a few fruits and vegetables that can actually harm dogs, such as grapes and onions, there are many that are both healthy and tasty to most canines. One of the most popular fruits fed to furry family members these days is blueberries. Blueberries are healthy for dogs for the same reasons blueberries are healthy for humans. They are high in antioxidants, fiber, Vitamin C, and phytochemicals, all of which are beneficial nutrients for dogs.
Keep in mind that too many blueberries can give your dog an upset stomach and maybe cause a bout of diarrhea. Start slow, offering just a handful. If you want to incorporate this nutritional treat into your dog's daily repertoire, ask your vet how many blueberries your dog can eat based on their size and weight.
What are ways to feed my dog blueberries?
Try giving a handful of this nutrient-packed fruit to your dog to see if they like them. Allergies to blueberries are exceedingly rare, so you’re really just finding out if blueberries tickle your dog’s fancy. After all, dogs are, to a certain extent, the same as people. They have their own tastes and preferences. Watch your pup to see how they react. It’s obvious they don't like the taste or texture if they sniff the berries and then walk off, or put them in their mouth but spit them right back out. If your curious canine takes the blueberries but doesn’t seem to chew or swallow, watch to see if they take them somewhere to spit out. Like a lot of dogs, they'll most likely eat this low-calorie treat and beg for more!
Give blueberries as special treats. If your dog likes blueberries, you can use them as reward treats during training or as a great low-calorie substitute for some of the higher calorie processed treats. Since they’re small, you don’t have to chop them up and it’s easy to carry them in a small bag or plastic container on a hike. Many canines go for blueberries on a hot day, too. A handful, given a few at a time, makes a cool and crunchy snack.
Incorporate fresh blueberries into your dog’s meals. You can mix a small portion in with dry or wet food to add flavor and nutrients, and as a low-calorie filler. However, you need to be careful not to overdo it. Like most juicy fruits that are high in fiber, too many blueberries can cause your dog to have diarrhea. As well, you don't want to add too much sugar to their diet.
A great way to get the nutritional value of the blueberries without the mess of dark blue stains on your fingers and floor is to buy some of the higher-end manufactured dog foods that incorporate blueberries as an ingredient. You can find these at some grocery stores, at pretty much every large pet store, and oftentimes at your vet. These foods usually pair blueberries (sometimes along with strawberries and cranberries) with chicken, quite often in grain-free or low grain foods for dogs with grain allergies or weight problems.
Blueberries provide benefits
Some folks may be a bit skeptical about including fruits and vegetables into a dog’s diet. After all, dogs are carnivores, right? Well, yes, but even wolves living in the wild often eat blueberries and other small fruits in addition to meat. While some dog food fads may not be a good idea or worth the trouble, when given to dogs that like them and in appropriate amounts, blueberries can be a real health boost for your dog.
Blueberries contain nutrients that are known to fight cell damage, to fight cancer, to help preserve brain health, and to contribute to healthy digestion, and to top it off they’re very low in calories. So next time you’re popping blueberries in your mouth, call over your furry friend and pop one in their mouth too. You may discover their new favorite snack!