Can Dogs Eat Mulberries Safely? 

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Like our children, we want to protect our dogs from harm. Even if our concerns involve insignificant berries dropping from a tree in the backyard. Better safe than sorry, right? If you are unsure about the effect anything unusual your furry friend ate could have on its health, call your vet to ask “Can dogs eat mulberries safely?” Even a new brand of dog food could cause adverse reactions.

If the berries dropped from a mulberry tree, or if you bought from the store, we can set your mind at ease. According to the ASPCA, ripe mulberries are not toxic to dogs. In this article, we’ll look at the origins and different types of berries you and your doggy dude might encounter. We will also explore the health benefits ripe mulberries offer, and when the berries are safe for dogs to eat.

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What is the History of the Mulberry Tree?

Historically, Chinese silk farms cultivated mulberry trees for their leaves to feed silkworms. Due to their nutritive value, people worldwide eat the fruit of the mulberry tree. Mulberries, fresh, processed products like fruit salads, juices, and dried fruits are all delicious. Interestingly, the fruits are not really berries because they have no stones. However, like raspberries, they are called berries. The production and consumption of mulberry fruits are rapidly increasing, largely due to their aromatic taste and nutritional value.

What are the Different Varieties of Mulberry Fruits?

Morus is a genus of trees or shrubs in the nettle family—the mulberries, There are 24 species of Morus and about 100 known cultivars. The best-known varieties include the following, and the reference to colors in their names often has nothing to do with the color of the ripe fruits:

  • Pakistan Mulberry: From Islamabad, Pakistan. They also grow in warm climatic areas of the U.S. The fruits are firm, sweet, and elongated–up to 3 1/2 inches long. They can be ruby red or burgundy color.
  • Himalayan Macroura Mulberry: This variety has many names, including the king white mulberry, shahtoot mulberry, Tibetan mulberry, or long mulberry. It is a flowering plant species in the genus Morus found in Tibet, the Himalayas, and Indochina’s rain forests. This medium-sized tree, with a spreading vine-like canopy that bears the 3 1/2-inch fruit hanging from the vines. Very similar to the Pakistan Mulberry, the fully ripe fruits are dark purple and are easy to pick.
  • Collier Mulberry: This is a hybrid cross of white and red mulberry trees, with sweet purple-colored fruit.
  • Russian Tatarica Mulberry: These reddish-black fruits are from China (Not Russia), and grow on tall, drought-resistant trees. Mostly planted for windbreaks and food for wildlife.
  • Illinois Everbearing Mulberry: This is also a hybrid developed in 1958 in White County, Illinois. This cross of the white and red mulberry produces black, very sweet fruit from a vigorous and productive tree.
  • Riviera Mulberry: This variety originated in Vista, California, and bears purple-black, very sweet, and long ripening mulberries.

When are Mulberries Unsafe for Dogs to Eat?

They are not toxic to dogs at any stage of the mulberry’s growth cycle. All the mentioned Morus species are safe, and even healthy for dogs, as long as they are ripe.

Just like you would avoid eating unripe fruit, your K9 companion should not eat green fruit of any type. However, we all know that some doggy dudes will eat everything they can fit in their mouths. If it is too big to fit, they will chew it until it fits. That would obviously not be a problem when they encounter unripe mulberries.

As mentioned, unripe berries are bad for dogs, but could cause nausea and diarrhea. Overfeeding on ripe mulberries can have similar consequences. Where unripe berries are different from ripe ones is their content of chemicals that typically cause hallucinations. Those chemicals undergo changes as the fruit ripens, posing no risk in ripe mulberries. This applies to all mulberry species and can affect dogs and their owners.

Can Ripe Mulberries Cause Health Problems?

Dogs can eat ripe mulberries safely, but pet owners must ensure they incorporate small quantities into dog treats or meals. Red, white, and black mulberry fruit is packed with nutrients to work into the occasional ripe mulberry low-calorie treat for dogs. However, always start with small portions of new food for your dog, and keep a close watch for adverse reactions.

Below are possible reactions your precious pooch might experience after eating ripe mulberries.

Allergic reaction: New food will always have the potential to cause an allergic reaction in your dog. This is particularly risky if it is human food you incorporate into your dog’s diet. Always start with small portions and monitor them closely for signs of an allergy (including itchy skin, vomiting, and diarrhea). According to the ASPCA, mulberries are not toxic for dogs, but monitoring your dog for adverse reactions is always prudent. Note that it could be several hours before your doggo reacts.

Digestive issues: Mulberry fruit contains insoluble fibers, which typically benefit digestive health. Excessively high levels of fiber have negative effects on adult dogs. Too much fiber can cause digestive problems for growing puppies. If your K9 companion has a sensitive digestive system, the risk of an upset stomach is even higher.

Stained fur: This poses no danger, but if you are unaware of the staining power of mulberries, take note. Don’t be alarmed if your furry friend rocks up with dark purple, black, or dark brown paws. Mulberry juice has exceptional staining powers, much worse than blackberries and blueberries. It stains clothes, furniture, and your dog’s fur. Just stepping on dropped mulberries under the tree could stain your pooch’s paws, and a purple mouth will be a dead giveaway. If it is his first taste of mulberry fruit, you’d better check for allergic reactions.

Health Benefits of Mulberries to Dogs

Mulberries are a superfood that carries many potential health benefits for humans. It’s natural for dog owners to wonder if they can share the goodness of these berries with their dogs. The short answer—Yes, you can. Below is a list of the health benefits mulberries offer for humans and how they can benefit a dog’s health.

These berries are bursting with goodness and nutrients. Yet one 8-ounce cup of mulberries contains no more than 60 calories. Use that count to calculate 10% of your dog’s daily allowed calories, and feed your dog no more than that. Again, after testing a small amount to ensure it is safe for your pooch, and checking with your vet.

Digestive Process

Dietary fibers aid digestion, bulk up stool, and improve bowel movement through the gastrointestinal tract. Approximately 1.7% of the mulberry fruit’s fresh weight is made up of fiber. Balanced amounts of fiber decrease your dog’s risk of experiencing digestive issues like flatulence, stomach cramps, or constipation. However, overfeeding your dog with mulberries can have the opposite effect.

Blood Circulation

Interestingly, mulberries are the fruit with one of the highest iron contents per portion. Dogs require 80 mg per Kg dry weight iron to effectively enhance the production of red blood cells. Sufficient red blood cells improve blood circulation and effective transportation of oxygen to the muscles and cells throughout the body. Low blood oxygen causes muscle fatigue, but iron can counteract that to energize the dog.

Brain Health

Do you want your pup to be smart and easy to train? Mulberries can protect and facilitate the repair of your pup’s brain cells and improve cognitive functions. That will ease his performance of complex tasks. Furthermore, mulberries may help your doggy dude learn new things, and prevent degeneration of an older dog’s brain. Training sessions would be the ideal time to treat your pooch with a mulberry treat.

Immune System

Whenever your dog’s immune system is weakened, the door is open for any number of diseases to invade. However, mulberries contain alkaloids that can activate the special white blood cells (macrophages) to improve the dog’s immune system. The vitamin C content of mulberry fruit is the second immune-strengthening weapon mulberries provide. It helps fend off enemies like viruses, bacteria, toxins, or cancerous cells that form tumors.

Strong and Healthy Bones

All dogs, whether working dogs, hunting dogs or just lapdogs, need healthy strong bones. Mulberries have loads of vitamins and minerals to deal with that. Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron, and trace elements such as Magnesium and Phosphorus are contained in mulberries. They are all significant role players in preserving and building bone tissues.

As dogs grow older, their bones typically deteriorate as they lose the mineral contents so vital for strong bones. The vitamins and minerals in mulberries can accelerate the healing of bone disorders like osteoporosis. It can also reverse damage and bone loss.

Cardiovascular Health

Mulberries are rich in antioxidants (polyphenols) that improve the functioning of the dog’s blood vessels by dilating them. This allows a free flow of blood from the heart to other parts of the body, thus ensuring blood pressure control. Polyphenols also help reduce chronic inflammation, another risk factor for heart disease. Polyphenols can reduce and help control your dog’s blood sugar levels.

Slow Down the Aging Process

Aside from nourishing the canine body, mulberries also provide antioxidant benefits. Research shows that each mulberry contains resveratrol, a polyphenol, that protects from oxidative damage induced by free radicals. They positively influence canine longevity and reduce the risks of cancer and heart disease. Another antioxidant present in these berries is known as anthocyanin. It is great for highly active and energetic dogs. It fights muscle fatigue and oxidative damage caused by physical activities.

Can Dogs Eat Dried Mulberries?

Yes, your dog can share some dried mulberries with you. However, you should limit your furry friend’s intake even more strictly than fresh mulberry fruit. The nutrients like iron, fibers, calcium, and antioxidants in dried fruit are significantly more concentrated once the moisture is removed. However, the sugar content is also much higher, which is not so good for your precious pooch.

Can Dogs Eat Mulberry Leaves?

Mulberry leaves are deemed safe for dogs to eat, although too many can cause stomach irritation. The leaves contain sap that has medicinal properties that natural healers have used and prescribed for centuries.

What Precautions to Take when Sharing Mulberries With Your Dog

Do not assume that everything you eat without problems is safe for your precious pooch. You can test your pup’s reaction with small pieces of new food. However, before incorporating new food into your dog’s diet, note the following:

Speak to a vet: Always discuss new foods with your vet, especially if it is human food you want to incorporate. Fruit such as mulberries has high sugar content, which could cause a spike in your doggy dude’s blood sugar levels. Take special care if your dog is diabetic or at risk of developing diabetes. Do not incorporate it into your diabetic dog’s diet without your veterinarian’s approval.

Ensure the berries are ripe: Unripe mulberries cause hallucinations, so ensure they are fully ripe before washing and feeding them to your canine friend.

Rinse the mulberries thoroughly: Wash your berries properly before feeding them to your furry friend. Ensure they are free of soil and chemicals or pesticides. Do not feed your dog desserts or other prepared foods containing mulberry fruit. Such dishes typically contain flour, butter, cream and extra sugar and other additives that are not dog-healthy. Only feed your dog fresh, uncooked, ripe mulberry fruits.

Small portions: Give your K9 pal a black, white, or red mulberry to try. All three colors are safe as long as they’re ripe, and your dog doesn’t eat too many. Refrain from feeding your dog dried mulberry fruit, which often contains added sugar.

Monitor the reactions: Every time you feed your furry friend something new, watch them afterward to monitor his reactions. Look out for itchiness, stomach discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, and signs they may be allergic to mulberries. If your dog experiences a negative reaction after eating mulberries, call your vet as soon as possible to determine if they need medical attention.

Note:

Pet parents should be careful not to confuse mulberries with toxic berries—like mistletoe berries and juniper berries—which can cause health problems.

Hopefully, we have answered any questions you had about whether you can share mulberries with your K9 companion.

You may find this article about the safety of sharing another exotic fruit with your precious pooch.

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Mari Serfontein