Humans have been eating blackberries for thousands of years. We know this because they were found in remains from a bog body in Denmark that was dated about about 2500 years ago. They grow wild in Europe and many parts of North America. There are countless varieties of blackberries, along with the wild ones. You can eat them in jams, jellies, pies, make wine from them, or simply eat them as fresh berries. But what about your dog? Can dogs eat blackberries? You’ll be happy to learn that blackberries are safe for dogs to eat, in moderation.
Blackberries are considered to be one of the healthiest berries you can share with your dog though they aren’t actually berries. Botanically speaking, blackberries are an aggregate fruit made up of small drupelets. Most people simply refer to them as berries. There are nearly 400 different species of blackberries. They are closely related to the raspberry.
Fresh blackberries contain 11 percent protein, 10 percent fats, and 79 percent carbohydrates. They are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
Blackberries are a good source of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), folate, magnesium, potassium, and copper. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese.
Blackberries do contain sugars though not as much sugar as some other fruits and berries.
One cup of fresh blackberries contains about 62 calories, one gram of fat, and 14 carbohydrates. They are low on the glycemic index at 25 so they are unlikely to spike blood sugar levels. Their glycemic load is 4, which is very low.
A number of health benefits are claimed for blackberries because of the nutrients they contain.
Blackberries contain lots of vitamin C. Just one cup of fresh blackberries contains 30.2 milligram of vitamin C – half the daily recommended value (DV). Vitamin C is necessary for collagen formation in the bones, blood vessels, and in connective tissue. It’s also vital for other functions such as:
- Fighting free radicals from toxins in the body
- Fighting off common colds
- Healing wounds
- Helping the body absorb iron
- Skin regeneration
Some studies even suggest that vitamin C may help reduce the presence of substances that can cause cancer in the body. It can act as an antioxidant to reduce oxidative stress that can lead to cancer.
The high fiber in blackberries may help prevent some digestive problems such as bloating, constipation, and stomach pain. Eating more fiber in the diet may also help reduce the risk of heart disease. Eating more fiber, such as the fiber in blackberries may also help in other ways such as:
- Encourage healthy gut bacteria
- Helping to control blood sugar levels
- Making you feel full after you eat which can help with weight loss
- Promoting regular bowel movements
- Reducing cholesterol
One cup of fresh blackberries contains nearly 8 grams of fiber.
The vitamin K in blackberries helps your blood clot. It also helps bone metabolism. One cup of fresh blackberries provides almost 29 micrograms of the daily recommended value of vitamin K.
The manganese in blackberries is vital to healthy bone development and a strong immune system. It also helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, cholesterol, and amino acids. And, manganese is important in the formation of collagen. It may also play a role in preventing osteoporosis, keep blood sugar levels steady, and reduce problems with epileptic seizures. One cup of fresh blackberries contains almost half the daily recommended value of manganese. Too much manganese can be toxic but it’s difficult to consume too much manganese unless you have a condition such as anemia or chronic liver disease which stops you from eliminating excess manganese from the body.
Some research has suggested that blackberries and other berry fruits may improve brain health and prevent memory loss due to aging. The antioxidants in berry fruits appear to help fight free radicals and alter the communication of brain neurons. This may reduce brain inflammation which can lead to some of the cognitive and motor issues that can be common with aging.
Blackberries have even been associated with good dental health. Blackberry extract has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties against some kinds of bacteria that can cause oral disease. It’s been suggested that blackberry extract may prevent and control gum disease and cavities, though more research is necessary.
Blackberry seeds, which are not always appreciated when you are eating blackberries, are relatively rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They also contain protein, dietary fiber, carotenoids, and other phytochemicals. Some of the phytochemicals in blackberries include polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins, salicylic acid, and ellagic acid.
It’s too early to say if all of these health claims are true. Some of them, such as whether blackberries can help fight cancer and reduce the risk of heart disease, need to be researched more. It’s also hard to say if all of these benefits transfer from humans to dogs but it’s likely that many of them do.
Can Dogs Have Blackberries?
Yes, there is nothing toxic about blackberries and they are safe for your dog to eat in moderation. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are also safe for dogs to eat, in moderation.
The only thing to be concerned about if you have blackberries growing in your yard or in nearby woods are the blackberry canes or brambles. There are thornless varieties of blackberries but blackberries that grow wild are usually full of thorns or (more correctly) prickles. Blackberry canes can grow long and they are stout. They can easily tear through fabric or skin if you or your dog happen to get caught in them. If they grow wild for a few years they can become a thorny jungle. Try to keep your dog out of them.
How Many Blackberries Can You Give Your Dog?
As with other fruit, it’s best to start with just a small sample to see if your dog likes blackberries. Contrary to some descriptions online, blackberries are not terribly sweet. (My father loved to pick blackberries and make blackberry cobbler. He would always have to add lots of sugar to it to make it sweet enough for us to eat it.) They are sweet-tart in taste, depending on the variety. Your dog may or may not like them.
If your dog likes blackberries you can give him a handful, provided he doesn’t have any digestive problems after eating them the first time.
Try sprinkling some blackberries in with your dog’s meal. Or you can use yogurt and a little honey to make it into a smoothie for your dog.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Blackberries?
If your dog likes blackberries there’s no reason why you can’t share some with him several times per week. Just remember to give him a moderate amount. Too much of anything, including fruits and berries, can upset your dog’s stomach.
Blackberries are very healthy for you and for your dog. They are full of nutrients and safe to share with your dog in moderate amounts. Blackberry bushes are another matter. If you have them growing near you, try to keep your dog away from them, especially if they have long canes with prickles. If you want to grow your own blackberries, consider a variety that doesn’t have prickles. Or, be vigilant about keeping the bush pruned back so the canes don’t pose a risk to your dog.