The tart and sweet flavor of raspberries make them a popular ingredient for a variety of dishes that people enjoy, from desserts to smoothies and even baked goods. Nutritionally speaking, these fruits (which are technically not a berry1) also pack a nutritional punch.
With these impressive qualities, you may wonder: Can your pet also benefit from enjoying these delicious little fruits as a healthy treat? The answer is yes; in fact, raspberries are on my list of top fruits and vegetables you can feed to your dogs.
However, some people may warn you about feeding raspberries to your pets because of a sweetener called xylitol. But there's absolutely no need to worry — here's why.
Fact: There Isn't Enough Xylitol in a Raspberry to Harm Your Pet
While xylitol isn't harmful for cats, this sweetener, found in processed human foods, can lead to hypoglycemia and liver failure among canines.2 It's true that raspberries contain xylitol, but will giving your pet a few pieces of this fruit harm them? Not at all!
While raspberries have one of the highest levels of naturally occurring xylitol compared to other foods, it's not enough to cause problems for dogs. The chances of raspberries having any effect on your dog is rare, unless they consume this fruit in very high amounts — as in cupfuls (which is not likely to happen).
To give you a clearer illustration, here's what Rover.com says: A 22-pound dog would need to consume a whopping 32 cups of raspberries to receive a fatal dose of xylitol.3
Raspberries Are Packed With Vitamin C
Raspberries are one of the best food sources of dietary vitamin C.4 A two-tablespoon serving can give your pet 0.82 milligrams of this vitamin.5
According to the American Kennel Club,6 vitamin C is one of the vitamins dogs need to stay healthy. While dogs can synthesize this nutrient on their own, getting it from external sources like healthy whole foods may provide additional health benefits. Vitamin C has free radical-scavenging properties, as well the ability to help inhibit inflammation7 and slow down cognitive aging.8 I'm a firm believer in supplying extra vitamin C to pets in the form of fresh fruits and veggies.
Raspberries Are Rich in Antioxidants
Raspberries offer antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, with 17 micrograms in a two-tablespoon serving,9 as well as polyphenolic components, such as ellagitannins and anthocyanins.10
Polyphenols are said to be beneficial when consumed by both humans and animals alike. One study explored the role of polyphenols in veterinary medicine and animal health, noting that they may help with an array of illnesses and health conditions in animals, including cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, obesity, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.11
Lutein and zeaxanthin, on the other hand, are well-recognized for their potential in preventing eye diseases, as well as age-related macular degeneration in humans. In animal models, a study reported that these antioxidants may protect the tissues and cells of the animals' eyes, especially their retinal neurons, against damage brought on by various etiological factors.12
Fiber for Healthy Digestive Function
Fiber is another beneficial component in raspberries, with 0.82 grams per two-tablespoon serving (blueberries only have 0.30 grams of fiber in the same amount). It's crucial for pets' digestive function as it provides bulk to their stools so they can move through their digestive tract easily, helping avoid constipation and diarrhea.13,14
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also notes that raspberries, along with apples, are also healthy and safe snacks that may help overweight pets slim down, due to their low-calorie but high-fiber content.15
Raspberries are also one of the fruits with the lowest amounts of fructose. Two tablespoons of fresh raspberries contains 0.56 grams of sugar,16 which is significantly lower compared to fresh blueberries, which have 1.24 grams of sugar in the same amount.17
Tips in Feeding Raspberries to Pets
The humble raspberry can be fed as a treat, or as a part of your pet's nutritionally balanced homemade diet. Fresh, healthy, human-grade treats like this can make up 10% of your pet's daily caloric intake.
Remember that the type of fruit you feed matters, and that you cannot feed your pet just any type of raspberry-containing processed foods. Make sure you always choose fresh or unsweetened frozen varieties, and not those that are dusted with sugar or canned and packed in syrup.18 The excessive amount of sugar can be harmful to your pets, just like it is for humans. If you have an extra-small dog, you may need to slice the raspberries in smaller pieces so they won't pose as a choking hazard.
When buying raspberries to make healthy pet treats, make sure you look for fresh, organic fruits from a local farm. Raspberries are in the 22nd place in the EWG's 2020 Shopper Guide to Pesticide in Produce,19 so in order to avoid loading your pet's body with pesticides, only buy organic varieties. If your cat shows an interest in raspberries, they are safe to share with felines (knowing most cats have no desire to consume them).
If you're looking for a healthy treats idea using raspberries, check out this video for my Frozen Coconut and Berries Treats: