Originally grown in Tibet, goji berries, a.k.a. wolfberries are a truly peculiar fruit – they look like tomatoes but taste like cherries. This combination may seem odd, but goji berries are listed among the top 7 super-foods for humans in terms of health benefits.
But is this super-food, super safe for man’s best friend, or simply put, can dogs eat goji berries? The short and rather sweet answer to this question is, yes, dogs can eat goji berries. According to the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), goji berries are labeled as “good for dogs” as they provide several beneficial nutrients to support your dog’s health. Such as protein, antioxidants, and several vitamins and minerals.
However, goji berries belong to the fruit class, and you should not overfeed dogs with sugary treats. Therefore, it is better to err on the side of caution and assume that goji berries are safe for dogs when used moderately and occasionally.
In this article, we will review the health benefits and risks of goji berries for dogs. We will also instruct you on safely adding this fruit to your dog’s menu and exploiting its usefulness while avoiding potential concerns.
HEALTH BENEFITS: ARE GOJI BERRIES GOOD FOR DOGS?
Goji berries bring three things to the table (or the dog’s food bowl) – distinct color, sour taste, and tons of health benefits. Here are some of the pros of feeding your dog goji berries.
Complete protein source
Goji berries are one of the few fruits containing all eight amino acids classified as essential. As a complete protein source for dogs, goji berries contain 19 different amino acids.
An antioxidant boost
Goji berries are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants play many important roles, but their main purpose is battling free radicals, which cause oxidative stress and trigger cancerous changes in the body. This also applies to dogs.
Promote eye health
Goji berries are rich in vitamin A and zeaxanthin. Vitamin A boosts eye health and promotes impeccable vision in dogs. Zeaxanthin is a specific antioxidant that protects the lens and retina from damage.
Goji berries are particularly rich in a compound called beta-sitosterol. Beta-sitosterol is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, meaning it holds the ability to reduce inflammatory processes. This feature makes goji berries particularly helpful to dogs with inflamed joints.
No rickets issues
Goji berries can help with one more orthopedic condition, but this time in young puppies. Rickets is a bone problem that stems from a lack of calcium and results in malformed bones and stunt growth. Goji berries can prevent rickets because they contain fair amounts of calcium.
Excellent training treats
Because of their size and low caloric value, goji berries make excellent training treats. Instead of using commercially available treats, you can use healthier alternative options. Just keep in mind that dried goji berries are more sugary than fresh because when the fruit is dried and the sour juice evaporates, the sugar remains. So make sure you give your dog non-dried goji berries.
GOJI BERRIES NUTRITION FACTS
Five tablespoons of goji berries (28 grams) contain around 98 calories. Here is a short overview of the other nutrients found in one 28 grams of goji berries.
|Nutrient||Amount (per 28 grams)|
With so many health benefits and nutrients one would ask why not feed my dog goji berries every day? Well, here are some potential risks associated with overfeeding goji berries.
Allergic reactions to goji berries are extra rare. However, some dogs sensitive to other fruits can develop an allergic reaction when fed goji berries.
A dog with an allergic reaction will clinically exhibit signs and symptoms like itching, hives, tummy upset, facial swelling, or in severe cases – impaired breathing.
Goji berries have been known to interact with certain prescription drugs. In those terms, goji berries must not be offered to dogs receiving blood thinners, diabetes medications, and pills for high blood pressure.
Goji berries contain small amounts of the compound betaine, which can cause fetal health damage. This effect is well-noted in pregnant women, but there is no conclusive evidence for pregnant bitches. However, it is better to be safe and refrain from offering goji berries to pregnant dogs.
Basically, any fruit can cause digestive issues in dogs if eaten in excess amounts. Tummy troubles caused by goji berries include vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and lethargy.
Too much sugar
Goji berries are a sugary fruit which makes them a poor treat choice for diabetic dogs and obese dogs or dogs trying to lose weight. Plus, as already mentioned, goji berries are not allowed for diabetic dogs because they interact with the sugar-lowering medications.
FEEDING GUIDELINES: GOJI BERRIES FOR DOGS
With the health pros and cons covered, it is time to explain the feeding guidelines that make the difference between feeding goji berries to your dog beneficial or risky.
How much goji berries can I give my dog?
The exact number of goji berries in one serving can vary depending on the dog’s size, but as a general rule of thumb, a dog should not eat more than eight pieces. This portion size applies to dogs that have already eaten goji berries and do not have problems digesting them.
On the other hand, if offering your dog goji berries for the first time, do not give the full portion. Instead, it is advisable to give your dog one or two goji berries and monitor its reaction for the next 24 hours. If there are no signs of allergies or stomach upsets, you can offer more berries after a few days.
Puppies can also eat goji berries. However, considering they have more sensitive tummies, you must increase the portion even more slowly and gradually.
How often can I give my dog goji berries?
Goji berries are tasty and healthy, but they are not a staple food for dogs. Goji berries are labeled as treats, and dog treats can account for up to 10%of the dog’s daily caloric intake.
Anyway, you do not want goji berries to be the only treat for your dog. Therefore, instead of overfeeding your dog on goji berries every day, keep them as special treats and offer them no more than three times per two weeks.
Where can I buy goji berries for my dog?
Goji berries are available in three different forms – fresh, dried, and powdered. You can find all forms in most supermarkets or local farmer’s markets.
When buying goji berries for your dog, stick to the same quality standards as when shopping for yourself. In addition, the goji berries should look healthy and be free from any signs of spoiling or molding.
Goji berry dog treats
You can use all three goji berries to make dog-friendly treats. However, fresh goji berries are particularly sour, so it is advisable to mix them with something sweet like xylitol-free peanut butter.
Dried goji berries are sweeter and can be combined with yogurt or oat milk and put into the freezer to make frozen desserts.
Powdered goji berries can be used for treats or sprinkled on top of the dog’s regular food.
Can dogs eat other goji berry products?
Since goji berries became a super-food, they are added to plenty of products. However, just because goji berries are healthy for dogs does not mean that dogs can eat all goji berry products.
Goji berry juices, frozen yogurts, and smoothies
Generally speaking, unless homemade using dog-friendly ingredients solely, these products need to be avoided. This is because juices are packed with sugars, while yogurts and smoothies contain lactose, and most dogs have trouble digesting this sugar.
Goji berry jams and marmalades
Jams and marmalades, similarly to juices, are enriched with tons of sugars. Some manufacturers may even add xylitol instead of regular sugar, and xylitol is particularly toxic to dogs.
Goji berry muffins, pies, and baked goods
Baked goods are a no-go for dogs because they contain a variety of potentially troublesome ingredients – from added sugars through baking soda to other not-dog-friendly fruits.
TO SUM UP: CAN DOGS EAT GOJI BERRIES?
The good news is dogs can eat goji berries. They can enjoy the unusual taste and use the benefits this super-food fruit offers. The only trick is to use them moderately and occasionally.
Dogs are omnivores and can eat certain types of fruits and veggies. However, meat is still their staple food and primary source of proteins and nutrients. When used adequately, goji berries can make excellent additions to the dog’s menu.
What berries are poisonous to dogs?
The list of poisonous berries to dogs includes acai berries, baneberries, dogwood berries, gooseberries, holly berries, juniper berries, mistletoe berries, and pokeberries and salmonberries.
What berries are safe for dogs?
The list of safe berries for dogs includes blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, raspberries, and strawberries.
What fruits can dogs eat?
Dogs can enjoy the taste of various fruits, including Bananas, apples, pears, watermelons, apricots, peaches, kiwis, mangos.
What fruits are toxic to dogs?
Sadly, not all fruits are dog-friendly. The list of toxic fruits includes avocados, grapes, cherries, and citrus fruits.