Golden berries are having a moment.
As I was perusing the aisles of Trader Joe’s recently, some small, yellow balls caught my eye. Were they tomatoes? Nope. I eyed the people around me, also confused by the new addition to the produce area. The mysterious golden balls were called golden berries, something I’d never heard of before. I put them in my shopping cart and off I went.
Golden berries were new to me, but they’re more common in other parts of the world. They’re small, smooth, yellow-orange in color, and they sort of look like yellow cherry tomatoes.
If you haven’t heard of a golden berry before, perhaps you’re more familiar with one of its many other names. The golden berry also goes by the name cape gooseberry, poha berry, husk cherry, pichu berry, aguaymanto, topotopo, Inca berry, and Peruvian groundcherry.
Golden berries taste tart and fresh, and a bit tangy, sort of like a cross between a tomato and a pineapple. It’s a very tropical flavor and super refreshing.
So as you pop these little golden nuggets into your mouth, can you throw one or two to your dog? Read on to find out.
What is a golden berry?
Golden berries are indigenous to the Andes Mountains, and are native to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The fruit was cultivated by Incans as early as 4,000 years ago, and has since expanded to be grown in South Africa, Australia, and across Europe.
The golden berry is a member of the plant family Solanaceae. You might think they’re related to their berry counterparts, like the blueberry or the raspberry, but they’re actually more closely related to the tomatillo and the Chinese lantern.
The plants have branches and velvety, heart-shaped leaves, and the berries grow to about the size of a marble (1-2 cm wide). Like the tomatillo, the fruit comes wrapped in a paper lantern that functions as a protective cover around the fruit as it grows.
If you buy your golden berries in a supermarket, they’ll most likely come in a plastic container or carton with the papery husk, called a calyx, already removed.
Can dogs eat golden berries?
Yes, dogs can eat fresh and ripe golden berries.
Now, should your dog eat golden berries is a whole other question. To answer that, keep the following in mind:
The fruit of the cape gooseberry, or Physalis tree, is not toxic, but there are other parts of the plant that are indeed toxic, like the leaves and flowers. Unripe golden berries are also toxic.
If you’re intent on feeding your dog golden berries, or if your dog gets into some golden berries when you’re not looking, they should be ok, as long as the fruit is fresh, ripe, and there are no leaves or flowers attached to it.
Either way, you should monitor your dog, and contact your vet if you notice any negative signs, like vomiting or diarrhea.
Are golden berries toxic to dogs?
If the golden berries are fresh and ripe, they are not toxic to dogs. However, there are instances where they can be harmful to your dog.
Unripened golden berries, along with the plant’s leaves and flowers, contain alkaloids. Alkaloids are toxins within plants that can cause severe damage to the liver when ingested in large enough quantities, and can cause upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea in smaller quantities.
Small dogs won’t need to swallow much before they’ve begun to experience the symptoms of liver and kidney damage.
With that in mind, keep your dog away from unripened golden berries, and golden berry plants – leaves and flowers included! If you fear that your dog has ingested any unripened golden berries, leaves, or flowers, contact your vet immediately.
If you’re an overly cautious pet parent like myself, then skip the golden berries altogether. There are many other fruits your dog can enjoy, so they’re not missing out.
Can dogs eat raw golden berries?
Yes, golden berries can be enjoyed fresh after their papery husks have been removed. Just ensure they are ripe, have been thoroughly washed and rinsed, and are the appropriate size for your dog so they’re not a choking hazard.
Can dogs eat dried golden berries?
Golden berries are naturally sour and acidic, so dried versions of them, sold in stores or online, often contain sugar to make them more palatable. This sugary addition provides zero nutritional value, and in fact, can make dried golden berries harmful for your dog.
No dog needs extra sugar in their diet! Make your dog stays away from the dried golden berries, and keep them for yourself.
Are gooseberries and golden berries the same?
No, gooseberries and golden berries are not the same thing.
Although golden berries are often called cape gooseberries, they are not related to actual gooseberries at all.
Gooseberries are from the same family as currants, and they come in a variety of colors, including yellow, red, pink, green, and purple.