Updated - Aug 18th, 2021
Summer is berry season in the United States, when blackberries and raspberries are plentiful. We use them to make jams, cobblers, pies, smoothies, and salads. But have you ever wondered if your dog can eat blackberries?
The short answer is yes. Blackberries offer a wonderful bounty of health benefits for your dog. They’re also one of the few fruits with a sugar content low enough to make them a healthy snack choice.
Let’s see why this berry should be on your dog’s menu.
There are two types of blackberries, the American blackberry and the European blackberry. Both are part of the Rubus species of berries – like the raspberry – and related to rose plants.
Blackberries are often mistaken for black raspberries, but there’s a simple way to tell them apart. The center or core of the black raspberry will stay on the bush when it’s picked. However, the entire blackberry (including the core) comes off the bush when it’s picked. (But don’t worry if you mix them up – both raspberries and blackberries are healthy for dogs.)
Hybrid versions of the blackberry are also safe for your dog to eat. The most common hybrid is the loganberry.
Health Benefits of Blackberries
The little blackberry packs a nutritional punch that few other fruits can claim. Nutritionists consider it a superfood because of the antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and Omega 3s it contains. Let’s see how and why these are so important for your dog’s body.
Vitamin C and Vitamin A: These vitamins support healthy vision and activate enzymes that break down carbohydrates. They also reduce inflammation and have anti-microbial properties.
Vitamin K: This essential vitamin plays an important role in the blood’s ability to clot, preventing excessive bleeding.
Trace minerals: Blackberries have trace amounts of the minerals potassium, calcium, zinc, copper, and manganese. These minerals help keep bodily systems functioning and support the growth of muscles, cells, ligaments, bones, and teeth.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: ALA fatty acids are plant-based fatty acids that keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and improve their heart health and cognitive function.
Antioxidants: Blackberries contain anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants found in blue, purple, and red foods. They fight the free radicals that cause oxidative damage to cells, contain anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, and support cognitive function as your dog ages. They also play a key role in supporting your dog’s immune system.
In 2009, researchers studied the cognitive functions of rats that were fed blackberries. They found the rats that consumed the blackberries had improved cognitive and motor skills compared to rats who were not fed blackberries.
Fiber: Blackberries are high in insoluble fiber, which is indigestible and moves food through the digestive system. It creates bulk in your dog’s poop, easing constipation, and keeps the digestive tract and immune system healthy.
Carbohydrates: Sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose make up the simple carbs in blackberries, but fiber makes up half of their total carbs, making the blackberry low in sugar compared to other fruits.
Low Calories: One cup of blackberries contains only 62 calories, which means they’re acceptable treats for overweight and diabetic dogs.
Risks of Blackberries
There are few risks in feeding your dog fresh blackberries. But if you add ingredients that are acceptable for humans, your dog’s digestive system may not agree.
Beyond this, your dog can eat too many blackberries if they’re left to explore areas where wild berries grow with no supervision. Whenever there are wild blackberry bushes around, you should monitor your dog’s consumption to keep them from having digestive problems.
You should also take care to keep our dog away from poisonous wild berries. Holly berries, juniper berries, and mistletoe berries are wild berries with toxins that are harmful to your dog. Never offer your dog berries from these plants.
Keep in mind that when you give your dog a high-fiber food like blackberries, there’s always a chance it upsets their stomach. Too much fiber in a dog’s diet can lead to gas, indigestion, vomiting, or diarrhea. Make sure to offer your dog only a few treats at a time.
All fruits and vegetables pose a choking hazard if your dog gulps them down. This is especially true for smaller dogs. If your dog is a gulper, cut berries in half to reduce the risk.
In terms of ingredients, the one actual risk with blackberries is the trace amounts of xylitol they contain. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in many diet products. It’s toxic to dogs and can lead to kidney failure. In reality, your dog would need to eat a sizable amount of blackberries to develop any symptoms of Xylitol poisoning. For this reason, it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before offering your dog any new treats.
In general, when it comes to treats, you should use the 90/10 rule approved by veterinarians. 90% of the calories in your dog’s daily diet should come from complete, balanced dog food, while 10% should come from treats. Feeding your dog too many treats – especially high-calorie commercial treats – can lead to obesity.
There are plenty of healthy fruits and veggies that can boost your dog’s overall health and keep them at a healthy weight. Click here for some great ideas for healthy dog treat options.
The healthiest way to offer your dog blackberries is to serve them fresh, with no added ingredients. Human foods containing blackberries – like pies or cobblers – usually contain sugar or seasonings that may cause indigestion.
Make a refreshing fruit salad by mixing small quantities of watermelon, cantaloupe, and blackberries with plain Greek yogurt. This salad will boost your dog’s immune system and help them stay hydrated on a hot summer day.
Here are some more tasty dog treat recipes:
Can Your Dog Eat Blackberries?
Yes. The blackberry is a superfood that offers powerful nutritional benefits for your dog. As with any treat, you should only offer them in small amounts to avoid upsetting their stomach. And always consult with your veterinarian before offering them any new food.
Dogs love berries, and blackberries are no exception. If you’re preparing blackberries for your summer dishes or drinks, share a plain, fresh berry or two with your furry friend. You’ll be giving them a generous antioxidant boost and essential nutrients that will benefit their overall health.