Fresh mulberries are not the most common fruit to have around the house, but the trees that produce them are in parks everywhere and in the backyards of dog owners all over the country. It is not uncommon for a dog to eat something it shouldn’t (like pinecones), or try something new they find on the ground, especially when they can’t resist that sweet taste. So if your furry friend comes across a mulberry, is it bad for them to eat it?
Mulberry trees are a popular ornamental shade tree because they are easy to grow, grow very large, provide shade, and are attractive looking trees for decoration. Not only that, but they do well in most environments, which means they are located all over the country. These trees are most prominent in North America for their easy maintenance and decorative look and in Asia for the harvesting of their leaves to feed silkworms to make silk and paper.
There are three main varieties of mulberry trees: red, white, and black (morus nigra). The white mulberry tree (Morus Alba) is the most predominant of the three in Asia. All three varieties grow in North America, each having its own distinct structure, size, shape of leaves, and type of berry it produces. Each berry has a different flavor profile, with the red and black mulberries being sweeter. The taste is often compared to a blackberry, although less sweet.
White mulberries are most common in China, and are larger and sweeter.
Can Dogs Have Mulberries?
You are likely to encounter fallen mulberries at a park, if not in a backyard, so is it okay if your dog gets a taste of the natural fruit that fell from it?
Yes, dogs are allowed to have ripe mulberries in small amounts. Like most edible fruits allowed for dogs (pineapple, kiwi, papaya, plantains, bananas), portion size is important, as too much of the fruit can cause digestive problems, and leave your dog feeling unwell. Unripe mulberries, however, are a different story and should never be given to dogs. They can cause hallucinations when consumed raw and more severe digestive tract issues because they contain a chemical called latex.
There are many varieties of mulberries, but they all become a darker shade and are softer when they are close to being ripe. Similarly, they will easily come off of the branches or fall off the tree on their own when they are ripe.
We always recommend when introducing new foods to canine friends for the first time, it’s a good idea to start small. While digestion issues are always a concern, we also want to be sure they do not have an allergic reaction. The adverse effects can be less, versus if they consumed these berries in large quantities. Always talk to your vet for medical advice, as they know your dog’s health and have medical records to identify any other conditions.
Dried mulberries contain too much sugar and may cause your pooch to overindulge. So if you are going to feed your dog mulberries, just go with the fresh ones.
You may be wondering if there are toxic berries your pooch should avoid while exploring? We recommend keeping them away from these other types of berries
juniper berries (not toxic – meaning organ failure- but can cause digestive issues)
holly berries – while not fatal, your pup will most likely have an upset stomach and in discomfort from the leaves
Mulberry Nutritional and Health Benefits
Mulberries are over 80% water, making them a low-calorie fruit. Despite the low calorie count, they contain a good source of dietary fiber and protein; about 1.4 grams of protein for a little less than one cup of berries. This is fairly higher than most berries (The same amount of strawberries equates to less than 1 gram of protein, and has a higher calorie and sugar content).
This fruit also contains necessary vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C and iron. In addition, the berries contain anthocyanins, which are pigments in plants that have been found to aid the body in its fight against developing tumors and free radicals, preventing oxidative damage.
The nutrition profile of this berry makes way for many health benefits for your canine friend. According to Raw Food Diet For Pets, potential benefits of this fruit include: increasing blood circulation and red blood cell production, enhancing the repair of brain cells, aiding in digestive health, maintaining blood vessel health, helping bones maintain strength and being a powerful source of antioxidants.
As you can see, the health benefits of mulberries can be a good thing for our four-legged friends and is considered a healthy treat when given in small amounts. While the soluble insoluble fibers help the digestive system, in moderate amounts it may cause stomach upset.
How to Feed Mulberries To Your Dog
Although you have a mulberry tree in your backyard, it is not recommended you give your dog free access to all the berries. It is important, especially when first introducing a new food into the diet, that you start with small quantities. Although it is unlikely that dogs will have an adverse reaction to a few berries, overeating anything can cause problems. It is best to feed a controlled amount from your hand, so you can track how much your dog is able to handle.
If the dog gets a few berries that fall from the tree here and there, and you are sure they can tolerate them, this should not be a problem. However, unmaintained trees with free-range access to all the berries are likely to tempt your dog into overeating, causing them to have diarrhea.
Can Dogs Eat the Leaves of Mulberry Trees?
The most common ways dogs have access to mulberries are in backyards. When the fruit is ripe and falls to the ground, dogs can sneak a few snacks and you may not even know. We know that dogs can have ripe mulberries, as long as they are not eating all the berries that fall. But what about the leaves of the mulberry tree?
According to the ASPCA, the leaves of the mulberry tree are not toxic to dogs. This is good news, considering there are some leaves that are toxic and cannot be consumed by dogs. If a dog does happen to consume the leaves in large amounts, they will likely get diarrhea, a common side effect of overeating for dogs. The only thing toxic to dogs on the mulberry tree are the unripe berries, which do have hallucinogenic properties.
Other Common FAQs
Only about a handful at a time. It is best to start with a small amount and work your way up depending on the size of the dog to see what they can tolerate. Small dogs only need one or two mulberries to start out.
No, they are not the same. They are commonly mistaken, but have different color, taste, shape, texture, and grow on different plants (blackberries grow on bushes, mulberries grow on trees)
Dried mulberries typically have a higher sugar content compared to fresh mulberries. The drying process concentrates the natural sugars in the fruit, making them sweeter. Additionally, some dried mulberries may be sweetened with additional sugar before packaging.
It’s important to keep in mind that too much sugar in a dog’s diet can lead to obesity and other health problems, so it’s best to feed dried mulberries to your dog in small amounts or only the fresh berries.