Can Dogs Eat Blackberries?
Owning a dog means having a pet that is entirely dependent on you for its health, happiness, and well-being. This of course extends to their diet, which will entirely be dictated by you. That’s a lot of responsibility, so how can you make sure you’re doing right by your dog and that they’re able to enjoy a healthy and balanced diet?
One option is to try giving your dog just a little human food. It is important that you don’t overdo this, but in the right quantities and when you choose carefully, letting your dog share some dinner with you can be a great way to ensure they are getting a balance of nutrients and the kind of variety that is needed in any diet.
In this post, we will look specifically at one type of food you can share with your pup: blackberries.
That is right: to answer the titular question, yes dogs can eat blackberries. And actually there are a number of good reasons why they should!
But there are also some caveats and it’s very important that you are careful when sharing blackberries with your dog. In this post, we’re going to explore in depth just how to feed your dog blackberries, how many they can eat, and what the risks and benefits are.
RISKS AND WARNINGS
Before we dive any deeper, the first thing to consider is just how you are going to feed your dog blackberries. We need to consider the potential risks so that you can be sure to avoid them becoming a problem.
To that end, it is generally safe to feed a dog blackberries but it’s also important that you avoid giving them too many.
The reason that too many blackberries is bad news for dogs is simply that they are absolutely packed with sugar. If you feed your dog a lot of blackberries, they will be consuming large amounts of sugar. In doing so, they might cause themselves serious harm.
Sugar in itself is not bad for dogs, just as it isn’t bad for humans. The problem develops for both species when too much sugar is consumed. When eaten in very large quantities, sugar can cause nerve damage and inflammation. This can make it harder for blood to travel through the veins and it can lead to tingling in the extremities or even loss of movement.
It’s unusual that it would get this bad, but it gives you just some idea as to how damaging sugar can be. In fact, when you bite something very sweet and it hurts your teeth, that’s because the sugar is damaging the nerves!
A dog is significantly smaller than a human. Not only that, but dog diets don’t naturally include anywhere near the amount of sugar as the human diet does. In the wild, dogs (wolves) would have subsisted primarily on meats and other animals.
Thus, what might be only a small amount of sugar for a human is comparatively a very large amount of sugar for a dog and can therefore be very damaging.
It’s unlikely that blackberries would harm your dog, but if they eat a huge amount it can certainly cause damage.
Not only that, but if your dog keeps eating large amounts of blackberries, then this can lead to diabetes. When your dog eats blackberries or any other source of sugar, it will cause a spike in the glucose content of the blood. This spike is then followed immediately by a similar spike in insulin – the hormone that triggers the body to absorb and utilize sugar. That will then either be stored as fat, or power movements so that you can run and jump.
But if you keep doing this over time, eventually the body stops responding to those large influxes of sugar. It has become ‘desensitized’ and suddenly the body loses the ability to utilize insulin correctly. This then means that the body can’t use sugar, causing it to build up and potentially cause great harm.
This can also happen to dogs, which is why diabetes is a fairly common issue for the pets.
And of course on top of all that, large amounts of sugar can cause weight gain over time.
How to Feed Your Dog Blackberries
For all these reasons, the safest way to share blackberries with your dog is to give them just a few on occasion. Sprinkle some into their dinner as a treat but avoid doing this more than once or twice a week.
You also need to keep in mind what else you might have fed them that week. If you’ve given your dog a lot of other fruits that week, then lay off the blackberries. It doesn’t matter where it comes from: sugar is sugar!
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BLACKBERRIES FOR DOGS
But while this might sound a little negative, don’t let it put you off! In fact, blackberries can be very good for dogs and have a large number of excellent benefits.
In particular, blackberries are one of the very best sources of antioxidants, being able to block the action of free radicals.
A free radical is a molecule within the body that reacts with cells on contact. When these molecules collide with cell walls, it can cause a reaction that damages the cell. This is a microscopic amount of damage, but when it is allowed to build up over time, it can eventually lead to more serious problems.
Specifically, free radicals can eventually make it all the way through the cells into the center (the nucleus) where the DNA is housed. When this DNA is damaged, it will then be copied each time the cell splits. DNA is what provides cells with their “blueprints” and is what the body uses to make new cells. In other words, if this is damaged, then the ability to create cells is likewise damaged.
Thus the damage can repeat and spread through the body as the cells replicate, and eventually this can lead to large amounts of faulty material. This is what causes cancer.
In short, free radicals can cause cancer and antioxidants like blackberries can help to prevent this. Seeing as the average dog’s diet might not contain enough antioxidants due to their smaller intake of fruits and vegetables, adding some blackberries can be a great choice.
Other Benefits of Blackberries
But there are actually countless other benefits of blackberries.
For instance, blackberries are also high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is an incredibly beneficial vitamin that helps to strengthen the immune system. This way, it is able to combat colds and flus, and it is able to encourage the healing of wounds.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant itself. Not only this, but it is also a precursor to the “happy chemical,” serotonin. That means that the body uses vitamin C in other to synthesize serotonin. Get more vitamin C and get more feel-good chemicals. This means that blackberries can help to improve your dog’s mood!
This is something we often don’t think about: how our dogs’ diets can actually impact upon their mood. If your dog is getting a diet that is low in antioxidants and other key nutrients, then they may feel tired, slow, sluggish, and even depressive. If you want your dog to be as happy as possible, then it is crucial that you feed them well.
Serotonin also converts in to melatonin, the sleep hormone, making it effective for boosting sleep.
There are more useful nutrients in blackberries too. For instance, they contain manganese. This mineral is useful for the synthesis of collagen and so can help to prevent bone problems issues with connective tissue.
Vitamin K helps to encourage clotting within the blood. And it might even be possible that the antioxidant content in blackberries helps to improve brain function. Blackberries might actually make your dog smarter! This can in turn lead to them being happier as they become better at entertaining themselves.
Another useful benefit of blackberries comes from the fiber content. Fiber helps to improve digestion and bowel movements among other things. Keep in mind that too much fiber is actually a bad thing and can have the opposite effect: causing constipation and diarrhea. This is another reason to keep your dog’s consumption of blackberries to a limited amount.
But this is where the real power of blackberries comes in. If you give your dog a small amount of black berries, then they will get to benefit from a huge number of nutrients in fairly large quantities, but the amount of sugar, calories and fiber will be kept to a minimum but the blackberries themselves are very small. The ratio here of good stuff to risky stuff is optimal for complementing your doggy’s healthy diet – as long as you use them sparingly.
SOME ADVICE ON DOG DIETS
As you can see, feeding your dog blackberries can help to improve their immune system, their bone density, their resistance to illness… even their mood! It can extend their lifespan and perhaps more importantly, improve their quality of life in the meantime.
This is why it’s so important that you take the time to carefully consider what is in your dog’s diet. Don’t just give them whichever branded dog food you can find in the store, as this will significantly impair their health and happiness.
The big mistake that a lot of people make is to assume that their dogs will get everything they need form a single store bought dog food product. This is a big mistake, seeing as no single product can possibly provide the wide range of different nutrients your dog needs.
Imagine if you only ever ate one or two meals – over and over again! Not only would it get boring fast, but you’d pretty soon get your fill of those nutrients and over time you’d begin to experience deficits due to the nutrients that were missing. Maybe you’d miss out on omega 3 fatty acid, maybe you wouldn’t be getting enough vitamin A, maybe you’d lack vitamin K. Whatever it was, your body would show the signs as your skin looked less healthy, as you started to become ill more often, or as you started to experience brain fog and bad mood.
This is why it’s so important that humans eat a variety of natural foods: different fruits and vegetables, different types of meat, organ meat, grains… everything!
And the same is true for dogs. Even if you choose the best dog foods on the market, you should still mix it up by giving them a variety of different products: different brands, different flavors, and different quantities.
Likewise, you should try to give your dog a variety of different human foods on top of that. This is why occasionally sharing some chicken from your plate, or in this case a couple of blackberries, can be such a good idea. Just do your research and know that you can always have too much of a good thing!