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Dogs have taste buds that can detect the sweetness, sourness, and bitterness of food. However, since the dog's wolf ancestors ate mostly wild meat with high salt content, taste receptors for saltiness never developed as well as other canine taste buds.

Dog owners who have ever given their dog a sweet-tasting snack know how much their dog loves those snacks. But should a dog be given sweet fruit like blueberries? Although blueberries are considered a healthy "superfood" for humans, is it safe to give a dog blueberries?

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Yes, Dogs Can Eat Blueberries

Blueberries contain antioxidants, fiber, and other phytonutrients beneficial to a dog's general health. They do not contain substances toxic to dogs found in chocolate or raisins. So, yes, it is safe to give a dog blueberries--but only in moderation. Limit the number of blueberries a dog eats to a small handful every few days as a treat. The problem with allowing a dog to eat as many blueberries as they want involves their gastrointestinal system. Diarrhea, an upset stomach, and vomiting are symptoms that a dog may have eaten too many blueberries.

Healthy Dogs are Happy Dogs! Capuski / Getty Images
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Health Benefits of Blueberries for Dogs

Antioxidants are powerful molecules that counteract the oxidation of soft tissues. Oxidation is a serious type of degradation to tissues resulting from aging, stress, diet, and pollutants. Antioxidants help reduce and delay oxidation caused by free radicals. Blueberries and other berry fruits are rich in antioxidants and may prevent the development of canine diseases such as cancer, stroke, and immune system disorders.

Blueberries may also enhance a dog's cognition and general brain health. Antioxidants help slow the degenerative effects that aging has on a dog's brain and could reduce the risk of canine dementia in dog breeds prone to dementia, such as German Shepherds, Labradors, and other larger dog breeds.

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How Many Blueberries Should Dogs Eat?

Begin acclimating a dog's digestive system to blueberries by giving them three or four blueberries in the morning. Monitor the dog's bowel movements later in the day to see if the blueberries have given the dog watery stools or diarrhea. If so, reduce the number of blueberries to two until the dog no longer has loose stools. However, some dogs may never get used to blueberries. If gastrointestinal problems persist after two or three days, stop giving the dog blueberries and make sure the dog's stool returns to normal.

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Can Dogs Eat Other Berries Besides Blueberries?

Yes! Strawberries and blackberries are also safe for dogs to eat. Like most berries, strawberries and blackberries contain the same rich amounts of antioxidants and phytonutrients beneficial to a dog's physical and cognitive health.

Strawberries even have a bonus benefit. They contain enzymes that help keep a dog's teeth white. Freeze a bag of strawberries and give them as a nutritious, crunchy snack to your dog in between meals. But remember to start off a dog with only one or two strawberries to allow his digestive system to get used to the fiber in berries.

Strawberries Make Great Treats Sanja Cokolic / Getty Images
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Peanut Butter and Blueberries Dog Treat Recipe

Spice up a dog's diet with this healthy blueberry snack: Ingredients

  • Two eggs
  • 6 cups quick or regular rolled oats
  • Six tablespoons of crunchy or creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of sugar-free applesause1 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients until the mixture is doughy. Roll dough into bite-sized logs, place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes. When logs start turning brown, remove the treats. This dog snack can be stored for several months in an airtight container.

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Apple-Blueberry Dog Biscuit Recipe

Ingredients needed to make these crunchy dog biscuits include:

  • 1/4 cup of semi-dried blueberries
  • Three tablespoons of water
  • Two eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, chunky applesauce
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats ground into flour

Combine all ingredients until doughy. Make dough balls from the dough and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten dough balls slightly using a spatula. Bake for about 20 minutes at 300 degrees or until biscuits are golden brown.

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Berries Dogs Should Not Eat

Never give a dog these berries to eat: Holly berries--contain methylxanthines, saponins, and cyanogens that can make a dog vomit profusely, suffer extreme diarrhea and possible dehydration. Juniper berries--contain ethereal oil and other compounds toxic to dogs. Adverse effects of juniper berries include kidney failure, seizures, and hypoglycemia. Baneberries--dogs can suffer serious neurovascular, skin and kidney or bladder symptoms if they eat baneberries. This berry contains ranunculin and glucoside, two compounds highly toxic to dogs. Poke Berries--although some songbirds and animals can eat poke berries without becoming ill, dogs that ingest poke berries may develop intestine and stomach inflammation, diarrhea and low blood pressure. Mistletoe berries--alkaloids, polysaccharides, and lectins found in mistletoe berries could adversely affect a dog's gastrointestinal system, cause diarrhea and vomiting and induce seizures due to sudden drops in heart rate and blood pressure.

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Should Sick Dogs Eat Blueberries?

Depending on the type of ailment a dog is recovering from, owners should avoid giving their dog treats of any type until a veterinarian says the dog is fully recovered from an illness.

Although blueberries provide numerous health benefits for dogs, they contain many phytonutrients that could reduce the ability of medications to treat a specific illness. Additionally, the extra fiber provided by blueberries may worsen intestinal disorders causing loose stools and diarrhea.

Feed dogs that are recuperating from an illness only what the veterinarian recommends.

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Can Dogs with Missing Teeth Eat Blueberries?

Avoid giving whole blueberries to dogs with missing teeth or to dogs that cannot chew properly. The smallness of blueberries presents a choking hazard to dogs that are unable to chew their food properly.

Dog owners can still give dogs that can't chew normally blueberries if they make an easy-to-swallow paste out of mashed blueberries. Dogs can then lick the blueberry paste out of a bowl or off their owner's finger.

Older Dogs and Blueberries PK-Photos / Getty Images
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Blueberries and Weight Control for Dogs

Instead of table scraps and beef jerky, give an overweight dog blueberries or dog snacks made with blueberries. They are low in calories and contain only natural sugar. In addition, blueberries help lower cholesterol in dog breeds prone to heart disease, such as small, indoor dogs that may not get enough exercise.

Exercise Your Dog Daily RyanJLane / Getty Images

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