You love your pooch. You share your love and time with him. You may wonder if you can give him an occasional treat, like some of the blueberries you’re noshing on for a healthy snack. The short answer is…
Yes, but with a few precautions. Let’s begin with some background information about the things that affect what we and our pets eat.
Genetics, Canines, and Humans
When questioning whether you can give different people foods to your dog, it’s essential to remember that all animals are different in our genetic makeup. You can think of genes as ingredients. Varying mixtures result in organisms, whether plant, person, bacteria, or canine.
It turns out that chimpanzees and humans share 98.8 percent of their DNA. With dogs, it is 84 percent.
That difference in percentages is what makes something okay to eat or toxic to ingest. A lot depends on the amount or dose as Swiss-German physician Paracelsus, the father of toxicology, would say. With this info, let’s look at that blueberry question in detail.
Nutritional Benefits of Blueberries
Our different genetics determines whether there is any value to giving your dog blueberries. The nutritional needs of dogs and humans differ if just because of our eating patterns. People are omnivores who eat both plants and meats. For canines, it depends on the species. Many experts believe that the domestic dog is indeed a carnivore.
From a nutritional perspective, it means that some animals have evolved biological mechanisms for getting some of the vitamins and minerals they need. People, for example, cannot make vitamin C in their bodies. Therefore, we have to get it from our diet.
We’ll use both the National Research Council (NRC) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional requirements as a guide for determining the efficacy of feeding your pooch blueberries.
As it turns out, many of the nutrients that these fruits contain are also present in the list of what dogs must have, such as magnesium, potassium, and riboflavin. The amounts vary. Some have negligible health value for canines. Others have some. Blueberries also contain things that your pup won’t need in great quantities.
The bottom line is that there are some useful nutrients that your pet can use.
Antioxidants and Your Dog
One of the prevalent health messages you may hear specifically regarding blueberries is their antioxidant content. The benefits they offer are protective. Some research suggests that it can ease the harmful effects of brain aging in dogs. Dementia, unfortunately, occurs in canines too as they get older. A diet that includes antioxidants, therefore, may help preserve your pet’s quality of life.
Before you replace his kibble with blueberries, there is another twist to this story. Too much of a good thing—antioxidants, in this case—don’t deliver more benefits. They can even backfire because the free radicals that antioxidants manage serve positive health effects as well. It’s all about balance. That concept is crucial for another reason.
Blood Sugar Maintenance
The question of stability also comes into play with your pooch’s blood sugar or glucose levels. Some pets have trouble maintaining the proper balance, and a condition called diabetes mellitus. The problem with blueberries is that they contain easily digestible sugars that can cause levels to spike. That is potentially harmful or even life-threatening with some dogs.
The chances are that if you have a diabetic pooch, you’re monitoring his diet carefully, anyway, and are controlling his blood sugar levels with a canine version of insulin. To be fair, you’re probably not going to give your pup a bowl of berries in one sitting. It might make this question a moot point. However, we’d strongly urge you to contact your veterinarian before giving you pet any blueberries.
How to Feed Your Dog Blueberries
If your vet gives you the green light, you can try giving your pooch a few to see if he likes them. The chances are that he may already be enjoying them in his dog food. Many commercial diets and treats contain a variety of fruits and vegetables to make sure they are meeting the nutritional needs of your pet. You may even find blueberry-flavored ones.
You can feed your dog blueberries, either fresh or frozen. We’d recommend the latter if just to make them easier and less messy to handle. Speaking of that point, we suggest giving them to him outside instead of in the house. You can use them as a training aid in place of other treats. Remember to limit foods outside of his regular diet to no more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily intake.
This point centers on the question of nutritional balance.
Final Thoughts About Giving Your Dog Blueberries
Berries might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to a healthy dog treat. It turns out that you can give him blueberries occasionally to mix things up with something different. When they’re in season, berries are inexpensive. If you’re lucky, maybe your pup will share his new treat with you so that you both can enjoy the health benefits of fresh fruit in your diet.
Featured Image Credit: Congerdesign, Pixabay