Most of us like to share a little food with our dogs. If we don’t share, we usually get that sad look that leads to massive guilt. Dogs are experts at giving that look. But there are some occasions when we really cannot let dogs have certain foods. Some foods can be toxic, for example. Even some types of wild berries can be harmful to your dog. You should learn what types of wild berries you shouldn’t give your dog. Some of them are not safe for you to eat either.
Wild berries – Yes or No?
Many berries and fruits contain nutrients that are good for you and your dog. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, black currants, red currants, and some other berries are nutritious and tasty. They contain vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants, that are very healthy. They can be sweet or slightly sour, depending on the berry, but many dogs love these berries. They are safe to share with your dog.
However, there are a number of wild berries that can be very dangerous for your dog. They can be just as brightly-colored and pretty as the berries that are safe. After all, colorful berries attract birds so their seeds will be spread. You should try to know what they look like so you won’t pick them by mistake.
Wild Berries to Avoid
Here are some of the most toxic wild berries you and your dog should avoid.
Hollies are glossy green trees or shrubs with prickly leaves. The berries are only red for part of the year. They ripen during the winter. Greenery from hollies is often used during Christmas so it’s possible these berries could be in your home. The berries contain substances which can sicken your dog while the spiny leaves could injure your dog internally.
Mistletoe is another common Christmas decoration which could bring it into contact with your dog. The berries are toxic. Eating them is harmful to dogs (and people). The alkaloids and other chemicals in the berries can result in gastric irritation that leads to drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Walking drunk and seizures are also possible, along with sudden abnormal heart rate and low blood pressure.
Juniper berries are safely used for many things such as making gin. Historically, juniper berries have been used as a medication and in cooking. However, the berries do contain poisonous compounds. If your dog eats too many juniper berries they can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), kidney problems, or seizures.
Baneberries are highly toxic, though they are very pretty berries. They are glossy white or red. The leaves have toothed edges. Baneberries are bitter and highly acidic so if they are eaten they can irritate the mouth and throat. Just six baneberries can be fatal to a dog or a human. Baneberry poisoning can show up as blisters or skin irritation; blood in your dog’s urine; neurovascular or cardiovascular symptoms (rare).
Poke berries grow on the pokeweed plant which is widespread in many parts of the United States. The berries are purple or black and it has flowers that are green to white. Many bird species eat poke berries because the toxins don’t affect them. Eating poke berries can be fatal to a dog. Symptoms of poke berry poisoning include low blood pressure, inflammation of the stomach and intestines, diarrhea and bloody stool.
According to the insurer Trupanion, other toxic wild berries that your dog should avoid include gooseberries, salmonberries, and dogwood berries.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Wild Berries?
You should always use caution about letting your dog eat wild berries, even if you are certain you can identify the berries. For example, if you see juniper berries and blueberries mixed together, can you definitely tell them apart?
If you are walking with your dog, it’s a good idea to keep him under control if you are in a place where he might come in contact with wild berries such as poke berries. Some dogs are not tempted by berries but other dogs can’t resist putting new things in their mouth.
If you grow berries in your yard or on a patio, even if they are safe berries such as strawberries or blueberries, it’s a good idea to try to monitor how many berries your dog is stealing. A few of these safe berries won’t harm your dog but if he is eating too many, they could lead to an upset stomach or other difficulties. Make sure your dog only consumers these safe berries in moderation.
It’s generally best to try to prevent your dog from eating wild berries. Some wild berries can be toxic or even fatal to dogs. Even if you think you can recognize the difference between safe berries and possibly toxic berries, it’s not always so easy. You should keep in mind that berries look different at different times of the year. They can be more or less toxic at different points in their growth cycle. If your dog ate a wild berry two months ago and had no ill effects, the results could be completely different the next time he eats one if the berry is riper and has more toxins.
If you suspect that your dog has eaten wild or unknown berries and appears to be exhibiting suspicious symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.