Many dog owners wonder if the foods safely enjoyed by humans can also be consumed by their fur-babies. But like most foods, it pays to be cautious with what you feed your pet — even if you want to feed those fruits and veggies, aka the healthiest foods on the planet.
In terms of fruits, berries are always debatable. The questions are plenty: Can dogs eat raspberries? Are cherries bad for dogs? What berries are harmful to them?
As much as you want your dogs to indulge in the best berries, it pays to be mindful to avoid pet hazards.
Learn which berries are safe and healthy for your dogs, as well as how you can serve these to them.
First Things First: the 90/10 Rule
Before you feed berries to your dogs, follow the 90/10 rule. Feed fruits as you would like dog treats or snacks. The treats you feed them should not make up more than 10 percent of their daily calorie needs. The other 90 should be set for their regular meals aka dog food that offers complete and balanced nutrition.
Berries and Dogs
In general, berries contain vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, as well as tend to be low in sugar. When you feed your dog the right berries at the right amount, they’ll enjoy a healthy snack. Berries are also comprised largely of water, which makes them a refreshing treat.
Can Dogs Eat Raspberries?
Although dogs don’t need to eat fruits to gain nutrients (which they can get from high-quality dog food), raspberries are healthy treats that offer many benefits. This fruit, which is low in calories and sugar, is high in vitamin C, which reduces inflammation and cognitive aging.
In particular, raspberries are good sources of:
- Minerals such as manganese, folic acid, copper, potassium, magnesium and iron.
- Powerful antioxidants that reduce the possibility of diabetes, arthritis, cancer and heart disease.
- Vitamin B-complex and K.
- Dietary fiber, which improves your dog’s digestive system. It also fights obesity by keeping your fur-babies fuller for a longer period.
Before you let your dogs indulge in raspberries, keep in mind that these berries also have the highest levels of xylitol, which a natural sweetener that is found in vegetables and fruits. While xylitol is safe for human consumption, too much of it can be toxic for dogs. Excessive consumption of xylitol can contribute to the development of hypoglycemia and liver disease, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.
This doesn’t mean you should keep your dogs from enjoying raspberries. Feed them this berry in moderation.
Can Dogs Eat Blackberries?
Blackberries are full of nutritional perks for both dogs and their “hoomans.”
- Low sugar content.
- Anthocyanins, an antioxidant found in blue, red or purple foods, fight free radicals, as well as nourish your dog with anti-inflammatory effects, improved brain function and reduced risks of heart disease.
- Fiber addresses gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and constipation.
- Vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, which help support the following:
- Activating enzymes
- Encouraging growth
- Building the immune system
- Increasing energy levels
- Metabolizing foods
- Synthesizing hormones
- Omega-3 fatty acids, which promote strong teeth, healthy skin and shiny coat.
If you want to serve blackberries to your dogs, serve them up to three berries and monitor for diarrhea. If your dog doesn’t get sick, add a couple to their food or directly feed them a few blackberries as an occasional treat. The number of berries depends on your dog’s size. For smaller dogs (e.g. Chihuahua), a berry or two should be OK. For bigger dogs (e.g. Labradors and Great Danes), offer them up to six blackberries.
Can Dogs Eat Strawberries?
Strawberries are healthy, low-calorie treats that are rich in fiber and vitamin C. They also have a teeth-whitening enzyme and high water content. Strawberries also contain natural compounds that act as antioxidants in the body.
When feeding your dogs strawberries, wash them thoroughly and trim off the stem to prevent choking hazards. Make strawberries easier to eat by cutting them into smaller bits or puree them. You can also mash them (an ideal feeding method for smaller dogs). If you have a bigger dog, cut the strawberries in half or serve them whole.
When strawberries are out of season, refrain from feeding them canned strawberries. Never feed your dogs with fruits that have been packed or sugared in syrup. Canned strawberries defeat the purpose of feeding your dogs a healthy treat. Also, these treats may have additives in them, which can be dangerous to your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Cranberries?
The answer is yes — and no.
Cranberries are safe to feed dogs in small quantities. It contains important vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin C – supports skin, bone, muscle and wound healing.
- Vitamin E – an important antioxidant that also supports the immune system.
- Vitamin K1 – essential for blood clotting.
- Fiber – ideal for immune support and gut health.
Similar to the other berries, moderation matters when feeding your dogs cranberries. Too many cranberries can cause diarrhea. Dried cranberries that come with dried fruits are risky, especially if raisins are part of the mix.
Cranberry sauce, in small quantities, is safe for dogs. Only serve them sauce purely made from cranberry and should be free from excess sugar or alcohol — both staples of cranberry sauce.
Can Dogs Eat Cherries?
No, and a bit of yes.
The flesh of the cherry is safe for consumption for dogs. The berry contains fiber, antioxidants and vitamins A and C. But the flesh can also cause an upset stomach.
The worse parts of the cherries are their stems, pits and leaves — all of them containing cyanide, which is toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities. A single stem or cherry pit may not cause cyanide poisoning, but why take the risk? Don’t ignore the red flags; avoid feeding them cherries.
Still, there are many types of cherries out there, which include maraschino, rainier, bing and black. Although maraschino cherries don’t have pits, they contain plenty of sugar, which is unhealthy for dogs. You can feed your dog a fresh cherry but you have to remove the stem, pit and leaves first. For an owner, that’s a lot of work, considering that your dog’s not going to benefit much from the cherry.
Can Dogs Eat Blueberries?
Blueberries are great low-calorie treats for dogs. They contain fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins C and K. These vitamins and minerals support the immune system and promote great health. Also, fiber and Vitamin C, which are phytochemicals, can help your pups fight cancer. On the other hand, antioxidants fight free radicals, aka the culprits behind molecular and cellular damage in humans and dogs.
You can feed your dogs both frozen and fresh blueberries. As treats, make sure your dogs eat them in moderation. Since blueberries are small, you don’t have to cut them into smaller pieces. But if your dog is small, best to cut them up to prevent choking.
What Berries Can Dogs Not Eat 100 PERCENT?
Although the berries commonly available in groceries and supermarkets are generally safe for dogs, stay away from wild berries. This includes decorative berries, such as holly berries and mistletoe, which can be concerning, especially during the holidays. If you decorate your home with these berries, keep them out of their reach. Place some barriers between your dogs and the flower arrangements.
Other wild berries to avoid are pokeberries, which include baneberries, juniper berries and grapes. While these berries are not fatally toxic, regular consumption of these berries can lead to digestive problems and other negative health outcomes.
Keep your dogs safe from toxic berries by paying close attention to them when on hikes or walks. Dogs sniff and eat almost everything. If you don’t pay attention to them, they may eat wild berries. If your home sits on a property where dogs can freely roam, clear the area of toxic berries.
Before you serve healthy berries to your dogs, wash and clean them first. Washing rinses away residual chemicals and dirt.
Take better care of your dog by feeding them properly. If your dog loves berries, serve them healthy berries as treats a few times a week. Apart from keeping them healthy, you also tickle their love for treats.