Updated - Aug 26th, 2021
Raspberries are delicious and plentiful in the summer. Have you ever wondered if this fruit, which is so beneficial for humans, is also good for your dog?
The answer is yes. Raspberries contain many vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fiber and antioxidants. These can all boost your dog’s immune system and improve their overall health. But, as with all human foods we love to offer to our canines, we need to take some precautions before we give them to our dogs.
Let’s take a closer look at the raspberry to learn more about the health benefits and risks associated with this flavorful red berry.
Meet the raspberry
Raspberries are part of the same botanical family as roses and come in a multitude of colors. You can find them in black, golden, purple and yellow. The most common is the red raspberry, called rubus idaeus. These berries are harvested in the summer and fall, with most raspberries in the US grown in California, Oregon, and Washington.
One cup of raspberries has:
6 grams of sugar
8 grams of fiber
They’re considered low on the glycemic index, which makes them ideal as occasional treats for dogs with diabetes or obesity.
Let’s look at the nutrients a raspberry offers and how they improve your dog’s health.
Health benefits of raspberries
You wouldn’t think such a small berry would provide nutrients that are important for your dog. But fruit and vegetable treats can offer additional nutrients that benefit their health on top of your dog’s balanced dog food.
Here’s the rundown on the raspberry.
Antioxidants: The biggest health boost in a raspberry comes from its antioxidants. Studies show that raspberries have higher antioxidants than most fruits. This is because they contain high levels of flavonoids, ellagic acid, vitamin C, and quercetin.
Antioxidants help your dog’s body fight off free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells. They reduce inflammation, prevent or slow down the growth of some cancers, and boost your dog’s immune system.
Senior dogs should have plenty of antioxidants in their diets. Antioxidants reduce inflammation in their sore joints, slow the growth of arthritis, and can stem the effects of aging on their brains, protecting them against cognitive aging, or doggy dementia.
Dietary fiber: Studies have shown that a diet rich in fiber can optimize your digestive system. Your dog – and you – can’t digest the insoluble fiber in raspberries. This remains intact, pulling all the other waste through the digestive tract with it and adding bulk to your dog’s stool. This helps treat diarrhea or constipation.
Fiber also helps overweight dogs lose weight. It keeps them satisfied for longer after meals, which makes them less likely to beg for treats.
Vitamin K: This fat-soluble vitamin contains prothrombin, a protein essential for blood clotting and bone metabolism. Vitamin K also helps regulate blood calcium levels in your dog, helping to ward off heart disease.
B-complex vitamins: These vitamins regulate your dog’s metabolism and nervous system. They also improve coat health and heart function.
Trace minerals: Raspberries hold trace amounts of manganese, magnesium, copper, potassium, and iron. These minerals support your dog’s skeletal structure, fluid balance, cell function, nervous system, and muscle contraction.
So raspberries are a healthy snack for your dog, right? Not so fast. Even though there aren’t many problems with this fruit, there are some.
Let’s look at those now.
The not-so-great side of raspberries
The name “xylitol” strikes terror in the hearts of dog parents everywhere. It’s a common sweetener used in sugar-free human foods that is toxic to dogs. We find it in peanut butter, gums, and many other diet products.
Raspberries have natural xylitol. Xylitol occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Not only that: a 22-lb dog would need to eat 32 cups of raspberries to ingest a fatal amount. Xylitol becomes dangerous when it appears in the concentrated levels found processed diet foods.
If your dog ate a couple of cups of raspberries, you wouldn’t see any side effects other than some diarrhea or vomiting, or a stomach upset. If your dog ingests xylitol in human diet food, it could lead to hypoglycemia and liver disease and – if left unchecked – death.
In other words, your dog would have to eat large quantities of this sweet treat to have any problems with xylitol. However, small dog breeds, and especially puppies, can be more susceptible to reactions from it, so it’s something to be aware of.
Fiber: Fiber is an excellent thing to have in your dog’s diet. It adds bulk to their stools and moves food through the digestive tract to keep their body healthy. But too much fiber can cause gas, bloating, stomach upset, or vomiting. Raspberries have a fair amount of fiber, so it’s best to offer this berry in moderation.
Sugar: Even though the raspberry has less sugar than a lot of other fruits, it still has a small amount. And a dog’s digestive system can’t handle large amounts of sugar. The ancestors of domesticated dogs ate berries, but not the hybrid berries we eat today, which are sweeter and have more sugar than their ancestors.
Small dog breeds and puppies are more susceptible to sugar reactions. When you offer your dog raspberries, make sure it’s a moderate amount. Too much can affect their digestion, giving them gas, stomach discomfort, and diarrhea.
Beyond this, all fruits and vegetables pose choking hazards, especially for smaller dogs. Breaking them into pieces or smashing them reduces this risk.
As you can see, there’s not a lot to be cautious about with raspberries – but there are a lot of health benefits your dog can enjoy. Feed your dog raspberries occasionally and in small amounts to ensure your dog doesn’t react negatively.
Now for the fun stuff!
Smoothies: Berries and other healthy fruits always make tasty smoothies for dogs when blended with plain Greek yogurt. (You can also freeze this mixture for a puppy cube or pup-sundae.) Throw in blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, or cantaloupe for an anti-inflammatory cocktail!
The dinner bowl: Throwing a couple of raspberries into your dog’s dog food bowl at dinnertime is an excellent way of getting those additional antioxidants into their system.
Fresh or frozen: Your dog may enjoy raspberries fresh, straight off the bush, or frozen for a cooling treat on a scorching summer day.
Canned: Canned raspberries – or any berries with added sugar, seasoning, and fats – aren’t healthy for your dog. They can upset their stomach or worse. And if you want to feed your dog some raspberries from your salad, make sure they don’t contain any salad dressing that can harm your dog.
The Internet has an abundance of dog treat recipes that include raspberries. Here are a few to try:
Can your dog eat raspberries?
In short, yes. Raspberries are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, along with a healthy dose of fiber. These all help boost your dog’s overall health, fight free radicals, reduce cancer risk, and support heart function, cell production, and digestion.
Raspberries make a tasty, fiber-rich treat for your dog. However, they’re only beneficial if given as an occasional treat and not as part of your dog’s daily balanced diet.
Remember the 90/10 rule of daily calories for dogs: 90% of their daily calories should come from healthy, balanced dog food. Healthy fruits and vegetables make the best choices for treats and snacks, especially if your dog is diabetic or overweight. These can take up the remaining 10% of your dog’s daily calories. If you aren’t sure of how many calories your dog should get in a day, consult your veterinarian.
For more information about which fruits and veggies can contribute to your dog’s health, check out this page.