Julia Bohan / Robbie Goodall / R. Tsubin / Getty
Raspberries are adorable. They're a gorgeous red-purple color, and bloated with cute little squishy mini-balloons of raspberry juice. No wonder people dig them, and no wonder some dogs might eat them right off the bush, out of your hand, or off the kitchen floor if you drop one.
But are these tasty little pink berries they safe for dogs to eat? Experts say it all depends on a number of factors.
Are Raspberries Good or Bad for Dogs?
Raspberries are high in fiber, which is good for digestion (yours and your dog's). They taste good because they've got natural sugar, but the amount per serving is relatively low. That's because there's a lot of water in a raspberry too. Still, if your dog has diabetes or any other medical conditions that make counting calories or sugar important, check with your veterinarian before going crazy (as you should with any sugary treats).
However, let's address the elephant in the room when it comes to raspberries: They are one of the many sources for naturally occurring xylitol. Xylitol is very toxic to dogs, but only in high concentrations in foods that use it as a sugar substitute, like candy and other human desserts. A little bit of xylitol even shows up in some dog toothpastes and is not a risk because of how little is used.
Xylitol in raspberries comes in such small amounts that your dog would need to eat multiple cups of raw raspberries before getting enough to cause a medical problem.
The biggest issue with raspberries would be extra calories. It's best to limit treats and other nutritionally incomplete food as a part of your dog's daily diet, according to board-certified veterinary nutritionist Sean Delaney, BS, DVM, MS, DACVN, whose website builds safe, complete recipes for veterinary clients.
"Generally, you shouldn't feed more than five to 10 percent of your dog's daily calories as treats," Delaney says. That includes even healthy fruits and vegetables like raspberries.
So, steer away from raspberries in your dog's diet if added sugar is a big no-no, if the berries disagree with your dog's tummy, or if your dog just doesn't like them much, says Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, a veterinarian toxicologist who works with Pet Poison Helpline. Otherwise, raspberries aren't a problem.
"No worries," Schmid says. "Dogs can eat them right off the vine."
Or you can feed them out of your hand, freeze them and put them in food puzzles, or sprinkle a few on your dog's meal.
Other Healthy Fruits Dogs Can Eat
Raspberries are so good that Delaney can include them in nutritionally complete recipes for dogs that he creates on his website. But they're not the only one of Mother Nature's bounty that's dog-safe and veterinarian-approved. Other fruits that experts say are good for dogs in moderation include:
Apple, but cut up into small pieces without the core and seeds
Banana, without the peel of course
Cantaloupe, without the rind or seeds
Cherries, minus the pit
Mango, without the skin or pit
Orange, peeled and without that white stuff (called the pith) between the peel and fruit
Peaches, cut up in small pieces without the pit (that pit is toxic!)
Pineapple, cut up in bite-size pieces
Watermelon, without the rind or seeds
There are absolutely toxic foods that dogs should avoid eating and that and you should avoid keeping anywhere near dogs. But raspberries aren't it, says Delaney.
"Raspberries along with hundreds of other fruits and vegetables are fine for use in the homemade diets we create on our website, and they can also be fed as a treat to healthy adult dogs on commercially prepared food," he says.
So, no one will razz you about feeding this very merry berry to your favorite canine friends. Enjoy!