Did you say, “What are mulberries?” You can be forgiven if you’re not very familiar with this small fruit. Mulberries are very delicate and they aren’t sold in most grocery stores. They have stems that make them difficult and labor-intensive to pick. They’re also difficult to ship. For these reasons, many people have probably never encountered mulberries. However, if you have a mulberry tree, then you may know that mulberries are naturally sweet and very tasty. Can dogs eat mulberries? Yes, with a few precautions, of course.
Mulberries have been called a superfood by some nutritionists. Although they resemble blackberries they have far more protein than most berries. They contain 11 percent protein, 8 percent fats, and 81 percent carbohydrates. They only have 60 calories per cup.
Mulberries are low in sodium and very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. They are a good source of dietary fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, and potassium. They are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and iron. Mulberries are also a good source of pectin.
Mulberries also have good levels of calcium and antioxidants.
In dried form, which is a popular way to eat mulberries, they contain 12 percent protein, 3 percent fat, and 70 percent carbohydrates.
Dried mulberries, in particular, have very high levels of protein and iron for a fruit. The iron content in mulberries is good for the production of red blood cells. Red blood cells improve circulation and carry oxygen throughout the body.
Several studies have also shown that mulberries (in the form of mulberry fruit extract) protected against memory impairment and helped with brain repair.
Resveratrol, one of the main antioxidants in mulberries, has been shown to be beneficial in its effects on aging and longevity. The anthocyanins in mulberries also appear to help reduce fatigue by combating oxidative stress. This could suggest that mulberries are particularly good for dogs that engage in strenuous physical activities such as hunting dogs.
Mulberries may also help keep the blood vessels healthy. The high amounts of the polyphenol resveratrol in mulberries lead to greater production of nitric oxide which is necessary for healthy blood vessels. Maintaining these blood vessels in a healthy state makes it easier for the blood to flow well.
The anthocyanins in mulberries may also help prevent the formation of tumors. Gastrointestinal tract tumors are not especially common in dogs but they can appear in any dog that’s over six years old.
Mulberries have been part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years as a remedy against cancer.
Mulberry fruit consists of both soluble fiber (25 percent) and insoluble fiber (75 percent). Both kinds of fiber are beneficial for your dog’s digestion, helping to produce regular bowel movements.
Studies also suggest that mulberries can help improve your dog’s ability to control the glucose levels in his blood. This can help reduce problems with obesity. Mulberries also contain the compound 1-deoxynojirimycin (DNJ), which inhibits an enzyme in the gut that breaks down carbohydrates. This means that mulberries may be helpful against diabetes by slowing down the increase in blood sugar after eating.
The calcium, iron, vitamin K, magnesium and phosphorus in mulberries are also good for building bone. All animals, including dogs, need strong bones for physical activities. Mulberries can also help heal the damage caused with some bone degradation; and they may help prevent some bone disorders such as osteoporosis and arthritis.
There are some downsides to mulberries. While the ripened fruit of the mulberry tree is nutritious, eating the unripened fruit can lead to stomach upset (vomiting and diarrhea), stimulation of the nervous system, and hallucinations. All parts of the mulberry tree, including the unripe fruit, contain a milky sap (latex) that is slightly toxic. If you eat mulberries, make sure they are ripe. If you give them to your dog, make sure you only give him ripened mulberries.
Mulberries are also high in sugar compared to other kinds of berries. Although they look similar to blackberries, for example, mulberries contain twice as much sugar as blackberries.
Can I Give My Dog Mulberries?
Yes, mulberries are safe for dogs to eat as long as they are ripe. Unripened mulberries are not safe for dogs or humans because they contain a mild toxin that can lead to an upset stomach, dizziness, and other (temporary) nervous system problems.
Eating a small amount of ripe mulberries won’t harm most dogs. It is possible for a rare dog to be sensitive to mulberries and have an allergic reaction, but this is not common. If your dog has an allergic reaction, contact your veterinarian immediately.
If your dog eats unripened mulberries and you see signs of an upset stomach, dizziness, or other problems, contact your veterinarian.
How Many Mulberries Can You Give Your Dog?
Mulberries are rather small. It takes 10 mulberry fruits to make 15 grams. That’s just 6 calories. Depending on the size of your dog, you could let him eat several mulberries.
As always, it’s best to start by letting your dog only eat one or two small bites to make sure he doesn’t have an adverse reaction. You can let him eat a little more the next time.
Keep in mind that mulberries are high in sugar and fiber. If you give your dog too many mulberries, he could have diarrhea, even when the mulberries are ripe.
If you happen to have a mulberry tree in your yard or your dog has easy access to mulberries, we recommend that you try to keep a close eye on how many mulberries your dog is eating. Many dogs love mulberries and they may not distinguish between ripe and unripe fruit. Some dogs will gorge themselves on mulberries. Mulberries that fall to the ground will also ferment and if your dog eats them, he can have some stomach problems. In fact, dogs can get dizzy or drunk from eating fermented mulberries that have been lying on the ground for too long.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Mulberries?
If you are controlling how often and how many mulberries your dog eats, it would be safe to give your dog a small amount of mulberries as a treat several times per week.
Mulberries can be a superfood for your dog but they require some precautions. Don’t let your dog gorge on them. Don’t let your dog eat unripe mulberries or other parts of the mulberry tree. And, don’t let your dog eat mulberries that have fallen to the ground and fermented. Your dog can enjoy some health benefits from eating a small amount of ripe mulberries but you need to supervise his consumption.