Blueberries are one of nature’s great healthy treats. Confidently compact into small bundles bursting with flavor vitamins and minerals, we all know that blueberries are a sensible part of a healthy diet for humans.
But just because something is good for humans doesn’t mean it always is for your Labradors. There’s no doubt that most Labradors would drool over the opportunity to munch down on fresh blueberries and all their juicy contents, but are they ultimately good for their health.
In this article I’ll tell you what I know about the relationship between Labrador Retrievers and blueberries, can they eat them, are there health benefits and how many we should be feeding them.
Labradors can eat blueberries. Blueberries contain lots of vitamins and nutrients which can be very beneficial to a Labrador’s health. There is however a limit to how many blueberries a Labrador should eat and too many can cause more health problems than benefits.
Health benefits of blueberries for Labradors
Low in calories
Blueberries are very low in calories. This is especially beneficial if you’re giving them as a treat, Labrador’s should get all the calories they need from a good quality dog food which has already been designed to offer a balanced diet.
Giving a high-calorie treat, therefore, runs the risk of leading to weight gain for your Labrador. Blueberries are a great alternative to help keep your Labrador nice and lean whilst still treating them now and again.
Source of vitamin C
This is a great antioxidant found in blueberries. It has lots of benefits for your Labrador, including aiding in neutralizing ‘free radicals’, an atom which can cause damage to cells. Vitamin C also helps to reduce inflammation and supports good cognitive function.
Source of fiber
Fiber is plentiful in blueberries and it’s a great nutrient that can help the digestive system of your Labrador function effectively.
Fiber will help the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in your Labrador’s gut and helps the colon to recover from injury.
Source of phytochemicals
Phytochemicals are chemicals of plant origin, phyto is the literal Greek translation of ‘plant’.
Phytochemicals act as antioxidants and evidence have linked the consumption of phytochemical-rich food to a decreased risk of many diseases.
Small size helps regulate your Labrador’s consumption
As well as their great natural components, blueberries are also the perfect size and design to use as a treat for your Labrador.
They are nice and small so you can really restrict the quantity your Labrador receives easily.
Naturally, smaller or younger Labrador’s will need to eat fewer blueberries and their natural small sizes and strong skin makes them ideal for carrying around in your pocket as a quick reward.
It’s a bit trickier carrying around banana chunks in your pocket!
Health risks of blueberries for Labradors
For all the benefits of blueberries, we all know that you can have too much of a good thing.
For Labrador’s, that is especially true. You should always use blueberries in moderation as over-consumption can lead to more health side effects than benefits.
A big danger of blueberries is the sugar content. Like most fruits, blueberries are high in sugar.
That’s part of the reason why they’re so sweet and delicious but the excess sugar can lead to complications for your Labrador’s health.
Just to show how sugary blueberries are, 100 grams of blueberries contains 10grams of sugar, whilst 100 grams of a Cola drink contains 9 grams of sugar.
I’m not saying blueberries are worse from your Labrador than Cola, they’re not because they have so many health benefits.
But you can very quickly pass a Labrador’s recommended sugar intake with treats like blueberries, leading to increased risk of weight gain, high blood pressure and possible heart disease.
Instead of helping the digestive system of your Labrador, an excess amount of fiber will actually cause digestive issues.
This could be in the form of constipation or diarrhea. As well as being uncomfortable for the Labrador (and messy for you), this can lead to further complications as your Labrador may have problems absorbing the necessary nutrients and minerals from their food.
How many blueberries can a Labrador safely eat
Blueberries are a great treat for you Labrador because they do contain a whole host of beneficial vitamins and nutrients.
They are however very sugary and high in fiber. Both of which will be harmful to your Labrador if they are given an excess of this fruit.
You should be quite restrictive on the number of blueberries you feed your Labrador. I happen to disagree with the common 10% rule for teats in this case, which I’ve explained in more detail below.
Luckily, blueberries are naturally packaged up in a way that you can still give your Labrador a blueberry treat in nice small qualities.
If you feed your Labrador 5 to 10 blueberries every few days then he should gain some of their health benefits without the risk of the side effects.
Beware of the 10% rule advice
You will often find advice that your Labrador should only receive treats equal to 10% of their daily calorie intake.
I don’t agree with this in all cases. Blueberries, for example, are very high in sugar and very low in calories.
So going strictly by the 10% rule a Labrador could eat a whole pack of blueberries every day and still be within the 10% calorie intake.
This clearly would not be healthy for the Labrador and their blood sugar levels would rocket.
The 10% rule works for foods like fish, which have little in them that can harm a Labrador’s health. But for sugary or salty treats you should stay well below 10%.
How should I feed my Labrador Retriever blueberries
Blueberries are best given to your Labrador as they come, whole.
You can mix them in with their food if you wish but remember that they shouldn’t have too many, also, smashing them by mixing them in food will start to break them down, reducing the energy needed by the Labrador’s digestive system to break them down and actually increasing the amount of sugar absorbed.
You can also feed your Labrador frozen blueberries.
Freeze your blueberries to make them last longer
This is a great option if you want your blueberries to last. They can be stored in the freezer for months and then given as a treat to your Labrador from time to time. They also have a nice cooling effect for your pooch on hot summer days.
Freezing fruit will start to break the cells down, making the release of sugars into your Labrador’s digestive system easier.
It won’t be much of a problem but just keep this in mind and feed your Labrador a few less frozen blueberries than you might fresh ones.
If your Labrador is young or a puppy, I would advise just giving them fresh blueberries as the hard frozen blueberries may be a choking hazard.
Always be cautious with new foods
As always, when feeding your Labrador any new food you should always monitor them closely for the next day or so. Pay attention to any irregular bowel movements, vomiting or discomfort.
Some Labradors will be intolerant to foods that are perfectly safe for other Labradors, my own Labrador Retriever (Geroge) had severe allergies to lots of foods.
OlderLabradors can often have issues with new foods as well, especially those high in fiber. If you have any concerns about your Labrador, stop feeding them blueberries at all and consult with your vet.