Blackberries, known to some as brambles, are one of the most abundant summer fruits, and also one of the tastiest. Blackberries can easily be purchased from the supermarket. They can also be readily found growing wild in hedgerows and so are sometimes called hedgerow berries.
Foraging for these sweet little black fruits is something many people enjoy doing while out on a dog walk. But, what if your dog decides to copy you and sneak a few for himself?
Luckily, blackberries are usually a safe option should your pup decide to take a snack. However, there are a few things you might want to be aware of if Fido is as partial to blackberries as you are!
Is It Safe to Feed Dogs Blackberries?
Blackberries are not toxic to dogs. And, many dogs often enjoy the occasional blackberry as a sweet treat. This superfruit has all sorts of health benefits for us humans. But is the same true for our canine companions?
Well, the good news is yes, there are lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in blackberries that provide the same health benefits for dogs as they do for humans.
Similar to strawberries, blackberries contain lots of vitamins, including vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. These vitamins play important roles within the body. They help maintain a healthy immune system, reduce inflammation, and increase energy levels.
Blackberries are rich in anthocyanins. This is an antioxidant responsible for the pigment in purple, red, and blue fruits. Antioxidants fight free radicals that damage cells, thus providing many health benefits. These benefits include anti-inflammatory effects, improving brain function, and reducing the chance of developing heart disease or certain types of cancer.
High Fiber Content
Blackberries are high in fiber, which helps to maintain a healthy digestive system. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels. The omega-3 fatty acids found in blackberries are beneficial for your pet’s skin and coat health.
Blackberries have lower sugar content compared to other fruits. This means they could be a better choice of treat compared to other options. The high water content in blackberries provides some hydration.
While they don’t hydrate as well as a fruit like watermelon (which is almost all water), they can still be particularly hydrating and effective during the summer months. This is when the fruits are at their most abundant. You could try freezing them in ice cube trays as a refreshing treat during hotter weather.
Low in Fat
Blackberries are low in fat. This means they can be a low-calorie treat option to feed your pup. Obesity is a big problem within the pet dog population and can have serious consequences for your dog’s general health. If your dog is overweight, or you are just trying to ensure he does not become so, then feeding the occasional blackberry as a treat can be a great option.
What About Other Parts of the Plant?
Blackberry leaves are not toxic for dogs so don’t worry too much if your pet accidentally eats some while he is foraging for the berries. Remember though, a dog’s digestive system is not designed for eating a lot of plants, so he might end up with diarrhea or have difficulty passing feces if he chooses to eat a lot of blackberry leaves.
The stems of blackberry plants are covered in thick sharp thorns that will deter dogs from intentionally trying to eat them. However, there is a chance Fido could get accidentally prickled while picking off the fruit!
How Many Blackberries Can I Give My Dog?
This depends on his size! Generally, two blackberries a day would be plenty for a small dog, a medium dog could have four or five a day, and a large dog could have six to eight.
Bear in mind that some dogs will be more sensitive than others, and too many blackberries could cause an upset tummy and result in vomiting and/or diarrhea. Treats generally shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily food allowance.
Are Blackberries Bad For Dogs?
Although blackberries are not toxic to dogs and are generally safe, there are a few things you should be aware of before you share them with your dog. While most of these rules will apply to most dogs, there are always exceptions and the odd pup that suffers an allergic reaction.
The fiber found in blackberries may help regulate your dog’s digestive system. But, too much of it could result in an upset tummy. This usually means an unwelcome experience with diarrhea. Never feed your pup a lot of blackberries.
If you know your canine companion is particularly sensitive to new foods, then you may want to avoid giving him any blackberries at all. There are plenty of other options that will bind in their stomach, that you can feed them, like bananas.
Bear in mind that blackberries contain a lot of sugar, and too much sugar is bad for your dog’s health in the same way it is for you! If Fido has excess sugar in his diet, then he is likely to gain weight and could even develop diabetes. So again, moderation is key!
If your dog already has diabetes, then avoid giving him blackberries altogether. There are plenty of other treats out there that are more suitable to talk to your veterinarian to find the safest options for your pet.
Blackberries do contain a very small amount of xylitol. This is a type of sweetener, which in high doses is extremely toxic to dogs. Xylitol poisoning results in liver damage and a sudden drop in blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) that can be life-threatening.
Thankfully, blackberries contain such a tiny amount of xylitol that your pup would need to consume an enormous quantity of berries to be poisoned. Still, it’s another good reason to limit the number of blackberries your furry friend will eat.
Any new food you feed your pup has the potential to cause an allergic reaction. If your dog has never had blackberries before, it is best to begin by feeding him a very small piece of blackberry to see how he reacts. Monitor him closely for any unwanted reactions.
Signs of an allergic reaction include skin hives, swelling of the lips or mouth, salivation, or even breathing difficulties. Although it would be very rare, a serious allergic reaction could even result in anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. It is important to contact your veterinarian straight away if you notice any of these or other concerning symptoms.
Pesticides and Herbicides
Any fruit that you haven’t grown yourself has the potential to have been treated with chemicals such as pesticides or herbicides, which could in theory pose a danger. This is particularly true of hedgerows along the edges of farms or private properties.
If these chemicals have been used in the correct concentrations, they are unlikely to cause toxicity in your pet, but it is better to avoid the risk altogether and wash any blackberries you have collected before feeding them to your pup.
Mold and Mycotoxins
Never be tempted to feed your pup rotting fruit that you wouldn’t eat yourself. Moldy food contains potentially harmful mycotoxins, which can cause serious symptoms. These may include drooling, vomiting, tremors, wobbliness, and sometimes even seizures. If it isn’t treated, mycotoxin poisoning can be lethal. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you are concerned that any moldy food was consumed.
Frequently Asked Questions
In short, blackberries are non-toxic to dogs and safe to feed as the occasional sweet treat. Be sure not to feed too many as this could result in a tummy upset. If this is the first time your pup has eaten blackberries then begin by feeding him just a small piece at first.
This will allow you to comfortably check he doesn’t have any unwanted reactions. If he seems ok, then your dog will probably enjoy the odd blackberry every now and then just as much as you do!