As a superfood for humans, can dogs eat elderberries? Read this before sharing elderberries or elderberry juice or syrup with your dog.
Pet owners, you definitely need to be aware of the threat of cyanide toxicity if you give your dog uncooked elderberries or too much of human-grade elderberry products. There is a safe way to give dogs elderberry, so keep reading this guide to learn more.
For ultimate pet safety, please ask your vet any questions you have regarding your dog eating elderberries.
Can Dogs Eat Elderberry
The elderberry, or Sambucus nigra L. plant, is commonly used by humans to make syrup, tea, or gummies to help boost their immune system. Some people like to grow their own elderberry shrubs to access this plant’s leaves.
Even though elderberry juice is lumped in with other healthy foods at the supermarket, it can be very dangerous for dogs. There is a safe and unsafe way to give your dog elderberry, and you have to be extra careful with how much they eat and which part of the plant it comes from.
The leaves and berries contain a toxin called cyanogenic glycoside. For this reason, you shouldn’t let your dog dig up and eat any part of the elderberry plant that they want.
Thankfully, the risk of cyanide poisoning is still low for dogs. If your dog eats the entire plant, watch for the following symptoms and contact your veterinarian right away: breathing issues that happen very quickly, kidney failure, or seizures.
Can Dogs Eat Elderberries Plants
Even though elderberry bushes and elderberry trees are known to contain a lot of health benefits, do not let your dog eat unripe elderberries.
It is unsafe for dogs to eat elderberry plants or raw elderberries. The plant and raw berries are the most dangerous to dogs because you can neutralize the glycoside toxin when you cook the berries properly. When the plant is in the ground, it is the most toxic.
Are Elderberries Poisonous To Dogs
Yes, all parts of the plant are toxic to dogs. The glycoside in these deciduous shrubs is dangerous to dogs in any amount. Large quantities of unripe berries could be fatal to dogs. These plants produce hydrogen cyanide which could lead to organ failure, seizures, or even death.
Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include:
- Watery eyes
- Muscle spasms
- Mucous membranes are bright red at first but then become a bluish color
- Seizures or convulsions
If your dog acts sick and you think they ate a part of the elderberry plant or unripened berries, contact your dog’s veterinarian immediately. Your quick action could save their life.
Elderberry Benefits For Dogs
Even though the plant is toxic, there is a way to prepare elderberries in a way that makes them safe for dogs to eat in very small amounts. The best way is to buy products specifically made for dogs that contain a small amount of elderberry extract.
Then, read the instructions closely and only give your dog the recommended amount based on their weight.
In fact, elderberry dog treats are a safe and healthy way to boost your dog’s immune system. They are really high in vitamin C.
Can Dogs Eat Elderberry Extract
It is safe to buy dog products that contain elderberry extract. Do not give your dog elderberry extract by itself. It’s best to mix a tiny amount into homemade treats.
Elderberry Syrup For Dogs
Yes, dogs can have very small amounts of elderberry syrup. Be careful because the high sugar content negates any health benefits it might have. Dogs that eat too much sugar are at risk for unhealthy weight gain and it could negatively affect their blood sugar.
Safe Ways To Give Your Dog Elderberries
The safest way to give your dog elderberries is to buy dog products that use a small amount as one of the ingredients. Unfortunately, elderberry gummies have too much sugar in them and might contain another bad ingredient – xylitol, an artificial sweetener that’s toxic to dogs.
The safest amount to give dogs is 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight, once per day. The elderberries need to be properly prepared so the toxic compounds are cooked out.
The short answer is that it’s safest to keep all types of elderberries – plants, berries, extracts, gummies, and juice – away from your dog. The risks outweigh the benefits, even if one teaspoon of prepared berries won’t hurt your dog.
The cyanogenic glycosides are in both the unripe fruit and the rest of the plant and elderberry poisoning is deadly.
If you have any questions about your dog’s risks and how to prepare them safely, please ask your veterinarian.
More Dog Food Resources
What other human foods are safe for dogs? Here are some more resources about the different types of berries and fruit dogs can and can’t eat:
- Can Dogs Eat Acai
- Can Dogs Eat Blackberries
- Can Dogs Eat Goji Berries
- Can Dogs Eat Dried Cranberries
- Can Dogs Eat Guava
- Can Dogs Eat Mulberries
Find lots of information about human food dogs can eat (and ones they can’t) here on Spoiled Hounds!
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