Are you snacking on a small bowl of mulberries, thinking, ‘I should share this tasty berry with my furry friend too?‘
Mulberries are one of the common berries you will find around. The trees are typically from Asia and North America. You will often find them growing around sidewalks, backyards, and gardens. You may find one when you are out on a walk with the dog.
So, can you share these sweet-tasting berries with your dog? Can dogs eat mulberries? Is it safe for them? The straightforward answer is yes; dogs can have ripe mulberries.
Let us look at mulberries in detail, their benefits, potential risks, and the best way to include them in your pet’s diet.
What Are Mulberries?
Let us start by clearing the myth that mulberries grow in bushes. No, they do not; they grow on the mulberry tree. These trees are native to Asia but are widely found in other countries like the US, Australia, Mexico, and Argentina, among others.
These berries have a delicate structure. As a result, they can easily get squished during transport. Thus, mulberries are often dried or made into syrups, jams, wine, or other canned food to be enjoyed.
These trees can grow pretty fast. The three most popular colors of mulberries you will find are:
Morus alba or white mulberry is typically from Northern China. These berries are grown as food for silkworms in the commercial silk industry.
Morus rubra or red mulberry is a sweet-tasting berry that grows during the early spring period. Dogs can eat these berries, but you should be careful as they can stain the dog’s coat.
Lastly, we have the Morus nigra or black mulberry that can be found in abundance during the late summer period. These berries have a sweet and tart taste to them.
Read More: When Can Puppies Eat Dry Food Without Water
What is the Nutritional Content of Mulberries?
Mulberries are a fruit that is rich in carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other plant compounds that offer a host of health benefits.
Let us take the example of 1 cup containing about 140 g of mulberries. According to the USDA, this 1 cup of serving consists of 88% water and provides only 60 calories.
Here is a breakdown of some of the important nutrients found in 1 cup of mulberries:
- Protein: 2.02 g
- Carbs: 13.7 g
- Fiber: 2.38 g
- Sugar: 11.3 g
- Fat: 0.5 g
Some of the vitamins and minerals that you can find in the same serving are:
- Calcium: 54.6 mg
- Iron: 2.59 mg
- Potassium: 272 mg
- Phosphorus: 53.2 mg
- Vitamin C: 51 mg
- Vitamin K: 10.9 µg
- Vitamin E: 1.22 mg
We are not done yet; the same cup includes plant compounds like anthocyanins, cyanidin, chlorogenic acid, rutin, and myricetin, among others. These compounds can help protect your furry friend’s heart and act as a shield against some types of cancers.
So, can your dog have this delicious and super-healthy berry?
Can Dogs Eat Mulberries?
Yes, your furry friend can enjoy ripe mulberries in small quantities.
Mulberries are not harmful to dogs. These berries will be ideal if you want to add a tasty and healthy treat to their diet.
As we have seen above, the berries are abundant in nutrients. But they should still be given to the pet as a treat. The berries are not toxic, but multiple servings are not recommended. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, consuming ripe mulberries in large quantities can cause an upset tummy, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Let the dog taste the fruit. The darker mulberries have a tinge of sourness to them, so not all dogs may like eating them. If it does not like the taste, do not force-feed it. There are other fruits you can try.
How About Dried Mulberries?
As mentioned above, mulberries are one of the delicate berry types. These berries are dried to improve their shelf life. A single cup serving of these berries will have 70% carbs, 12% protein, and 14% of fiber.
The fresh berries have 88% water content, but in the absence of water, the dried berries have an increased amount of concentrated sugar and calories.
Technically, dried mulberries are not harmful or toxic for your dog. If those are the type of berries you can easily source, then you can feed the same to your dog. But, you will have to stick to a small serving size compared to fresh mulberries.
Decide on the quantity, depending on your dog and the calories it consumes in a day. Apply the 90% food, 10% treat rule.
If you feed the dog high quantities of dried mulberry, you unnecessarily increase the risk of the pet gaining weight, developing diabetes, or having heart issues.
Can Dogs Safely Eat Mulberries?
Your dog can safely consume ripe mulberries. Dried mulberries are also safe to eat, but you must pay special attention to their quantity. When given as a treat, once or twice a week, the fruit is safe for the dog to consume. Any more, and you run the risk of upsetting your dog’s stomach.
What you should avoid is unripe mulberries. This type of mulberry is known to cause hallucinations in dogs and humans. It can also make the dog physically sick. Look out for symptoms like:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
All types of mulberries in their unripe state have hallucinogenic properties. However, it is the ripening process that alters the chemical structure of the fruit, preventing hallucinations.
So, yes, mulberries are safe for dogs, but it would be best if you stick to the fresh kind.
How Do Mulberries Affect a Dog’s Health?
If you are on the fence about mulberries being a part of your dog’s diet, here are the many benefits of eating these berries which can help you decide.
1. Improve Digestion
When consumed in small quantities, mulberries can boost your pet’s digestive system. This is because the berries contain a healthy amount of soluble and insoluble fibers.
Both these types of fibers are necessary to keep things moving. For example, soluble fiber can improve digestion, while the insoluble fiber will soften the poop, making it easier to move through the GI tract.
Good digestion is important as it improves the body’s capability to break down food and absorb nutrients better.
Be careful, though; too much fiber can result in healthy poop turning to diarrhea. Your dog may poop multiple times and, on some occasions, lose control of its bowel movement.
2. Good for Strong and Healthy Bones
A single cup of mulberries contains 54.6 mg of calcium, 10.9 µg of Vitamin K, 25.2 mg of magnesium, 53.2 mg of phosphorous, and 2.59 mg of iron.
All these nutrients play an essential role in bone health. It can help build strong bones, accelerate the healing process and maintain the existing bone tissues in the dog’s body.
As the dog ages, it can start losing bone minerals. For example, calcium and phosphorous can leave the bones to fulfill the requirement elsewhere in the dog’s body. This condition is known as osteoporosis.
Younger dogs can develop metabolic bone disorders like osteochondrosis and hypertrophic osteodystrophy. The exact cause for these disorders is unclear, but it is suspected that nutrition plays a role.
Mulberries alone cannot fulfill the dog’s nutrient requirement and prevent these bone conditions, but it surely is a good start.
3. Aids in Blood Circulation
In fruits, mulberries have one of the highest iron content per serving. This, in turn, aids the production of red blood cells. The primary function of these cells is to carry oxygen throughout the body.
Oxygen is necessary as the cells in the dog’s body use it to generate energy. The carbon dioxide, which is a by product of this process, is then transported by the red blood cells back to the lungs to be exhaled.
A low red blood cell count can make your dog can feel tired and weak. A healthy dose of iron ensures your dog’s oxygen levels remain optimal and it is energized throughout the day.
4. Strengthens Immune System
As we have seen above, mulberry is packed with several healthy nutrients. These nutrients can strengthen the immune system and help fight bacteria and viruses.
For example, vitamin C can improve the dog’s skin health, reduce inflammation and boost cognitive functions. Potassium is an electrolyte that keeps the dog’s heart, nerves, and muscles functioning. It can also keep the blood pressure in check.
Vitamin A is a nutrient that promotes bone health, cellular differentiation, and the body’s immune response. The alkaloids in macrophages are activated by these berries, which further strengthen immunity.
5. A Powerhouse of Antioxidants
Antioxidants play an essential role in maintaining the overall health of all living beings. Highly reactive oxygen molecules in your dog’s body can harm its organs, cells, and even its DNA. These molecules are known as free radicals.
Antioxidants help the body by fighting these harmful molecules and preventing oxidative damage. Free radicals are one of the causes of premature aging and progressive diseases in dogs.
Mulberries contain resveratrol that can slow down the aging process in your pet. It also contains anthocyanins that prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol and protect the heart against diseases.
Another powerful oxidant is chlorogenic acid, which can help lower blood sugar levels, and cholesterol and boosts fat metabolism.
6. Boost Brain Power
The nutrients present in mulberries can enhance the healing process of brain cells. It also helps improve cognitive functions in dogs. This, in turn, improves the pet’s learning abilities. A dog with a healthy brain will be quick to pick up training and retain that information.
Your dogs will be able to retain memories for longer and be able to enjoy a quality life even as it ages.
7. Helps Protect Against Some Types of Cancer
The antioxidants present in mulberries can prevent certain types of cancer and tumors. For example, the antioxidant anthocyanins can prevent gastrointestinal tumors.
Rutin is another antioxidant that protects against chronic conditions like cancer and diabetes. The antioxidant myricetin offers similar benefits.
The deeper and riper the mulberries are, their antioxidant capacity will be higher.
8. Improve Cardiovascular Health
Higher cholesterol levels can lead to heart diseases. Mulberries can help reduce fat and lower blood cholesterol. They might also help maintain a balance between good and bad cholesterol.
Some essential nutrients for heart health are magnesium, polyphenols, resveratrol, and folate. For example, resveratrol fights against strokes. Folate reduces the risks of attacks, strokes, and other heart ailments. All these nutrients can be found in mulberries.
Are Dogs at Risk When Eating Mulberries?
It would be best to be careful when sharing human food with your canine pet. For example, mulberries are sure healthy and provide many benefits, but they should be included in the dog’s diet gradually.
Feed it in a small amount and monitor its behavior and health. If your dog turns out to be allergic, it can show symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.
If your dog enjoys eating mulberries and chugs down a bowl full, it can end up with an upset stomach. So instead, mulberries should be fed as a treat.
As mentioned above, eating unripe mulberries can lead to hallucinations. So, such berries are best kept away from the pet. If you have a tree growing in your backyard, pay attention so your dog does not go out and sneak a treat for itself.
The darker-colored mulberries can stain the dog’s fur. Brushing through a mixture of baking soda and water should help remove the stain.
How Can You Safely Include Mulberries in Your Dog’s Diet?
Sticking to fresh white, red, or black mulberries is the best way to include this fruit in your dog’s diet.
Make sure you pick ripe mulberries. Wash them to ensure there is no dirt or pollutant on the surface. Then, feed the dog a small amount. See how it reacts to the taste and if it can keep the fruit down in its stomach.
If the dog shows any adverse reaction, do not hesitate to contact the vet for a further course of action.
If possible, avoid dried mulberries. They are not toxic to dogs, but they have high sugar content.
What you should definitely stay away from are mulberry-flavored treats and baked goods. These food items can contain sugar, flour, artificial sweeteners, flavors, and preservatives. These additional ingredients can cause negative reactions in your dogs and possibly be toxic.
What Other Berries Can Dogs Eat Safely?
Blueberries are one of the superfoods that can be eaten by humans and dogs alike. These berries can prevent cell damage in your canine friend. According to AKC, blueberries should be fed instead of store-bought treats.
You can include raspberries in your dog’s diet. They make a good treat for aging dogs as they are anti-inflammatory and can reduce joint aches.
Strawberries can help whiten your pet’s teeth. They are also rich in fiber and vitamin C. In addition, they are a low-calorie treat that is full of antioxidants.
Cranberries are another treat that you can share with your dog. These berries have more of a tart taste to them than sweet. You can feed both fresh and dried berries.
Remember the simple rule with berries: moderation is key as they contain sugar. Consuming too many berries in one go can cause an upset stomach.
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Can dogs eat mulberries? Yes, ripe mulberries are a treat that your dog can enjoy safely in moderation.
The fresh berries have almost 88% water content. Thus, they are low in calories. The berries contain healthy nutrients like fiber, carbs, calcium, protein, iron, and several other vitamins and minerals.
Mulberries can improve digestion, blood circulation, and heart health, help grow strong bones, boost brain power and immune system, slow down aging and help fight against certain types of cancer.
Please stay away from unripe mulberries as they have hallucinogenic properties.
If the dog shows any symptoms such as upset tummy or vomiting, please contact the vet to determine if it needs medical attention.
Meet Madison Phillips, your compassionate guide to pet well-being. With experience from VCA Animal Hospitals and Laxton Vet Clinics Bellaire Inc. Madison honed her skills and embraced the balance of medical expertise and compassion, through her articles, she simplifies pet care, whether you’re a newbie or an experienced pet parent.