Can Acai Berries Harm Your Dog?

Acai berries in a bowl

Getting into the health craze that is acai? If you love eating these delicious berries or you enjoy an acai smoothie now and again, you might be wondering whether your dog will like them too.

But the simple truth is this: It probably is not a good idea to feed your dog acai. In just a moment, I'm going to tell you why. But first, let's introduce acai in case you have never had it.

What is Acai?

Acai berries come from acai palm trees that grow in Brazil. The scientific name for acai is Euterpe oleracea. They look a bit like blueberries, but they have a chocolaty flavor. 

The flavor is not the only reason for the popularity of acai berries. A lot of people are drawn to them because of their health benefits.

Health Benefits of Acai Berries

Here are some of the health benefits you can get from eating acai:

  • Acai berries are a rich source of fat, vitamin A, fiber and calcium.
  • Acai berries contain more antioxidants than blueberries or cranberries.
  • Cholesterol levels may improve from eating acai.
  • Some animal and test-tube studies show anti-cancer properties.
  • Acai may be good for your brain.

Is Acai Safe For Dogs?

You're sold on the health benefits of acai berries for you. But what about your dog?

Hypothetically, the nutrients in acai would be suitable for your pet. But here's the catch. Acai contains a compound called "theobromine." This is the same compound in chocolate that poisons dogs.

The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) writes, "Surprisingly, another food rich in theobromine is the wildly popular 'super fruit', the acai berry.  Superfruits rich in antioxidants are growing in popularity in the human market and while some exotic fruits like goji berry are good for dogs, keep them away from acai."

Some people claim that in minimal amounts, acai should be safe for dogs. Indeed, some holistic practitioners apparently dose dogs with small amounts of acai.

But frankly, we prefer to err on the side of caution. The NASC is a reliable source and says to avoid giving acai to dogs. So, we tend to agree with them.

How Much Acai Can Your Dog Eat?

We recommend you do not give your dog acai at all. There are plenty of other healthy fruits to feed your dog that do not contain toxic theobromine.

Can a Dog Be Allergic to Acai?

You might also be wondering whether your dog can have an acai allergy.

The answer is, "yes."

Hypothetically, your dog could be allergic to any unfamiliar food. So, you should always be cautious when you feed your pet a new fruit. But again, we'd be more concerned about theobromine poisoning than allergies to acai.

Is Your Dog Suffering Theobromine Poisoning?

Did your dog eat acai, and now it isn't doing too well? How do you know if he has been poisoned?

This research explains, "The first signs of poisoning in dogs include vomiting, haematemesis, and polydipsia. Other signs may include hyperexcitability, hyperirritability, tachycardia, excessive panting, ataxia, and muscle twitching. Effects may progress to cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, and death. Most symptoms will begin to appear within two hours of ingestion, but, as theobromine is metabolized slowly, it can take as long as 24 hours for them to appear and up to three days for recovery."

What should you do if you suspect your dog is suffering from theobromine poisoning? If there is any chance of toxicity, VCA Hospitals says you should take your dog directly to the vet even if you see no symptoms yet. 

It may be necessary to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal. An IV for fluids might be needed as well. 

Conclusion: Don't Give Your Dog Acai

Let's sum up what we have learned. Acai is a super fruit that has health benefits for humans. But just because this fruit is loaded with antioxidants, that doesn't mean it is a good fit for your dog's diet.

Acai contains theobromine, the same compound that makes chocolate toxic to dogs. There is some disagreement about whether or not dogs can eat acai berry, but the NASC advises against it.

Don't take unnecessary risks with your dog's health. Stick with fruits that are deemed safe for dogs for the occasional nutritious treat.

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