Can Dogs Eat Cranberries? Are Cranberries Safe For Dogs?


can dogs eat cranberries

While you are often tempted to share your cranberry sauce, desserts, and treats with your precious pooch, you are still compelled to be a responsible owner. So if you’ve found yourself asking, can dogs eat cranberries? Then you are not alone. Let’s take a closer look at the answer. 

So the good news is that cranberries are not toxic to dogs and completely safe for them to eat in moderation. They may have health benefits; however, like many other human foods, cranberries may also pose some health risks for dogs. 

Can Dogs Eat Cranberries

The short answer is a resounding yes, cranberries are safe for dogs to eat. We know that they are non-toxic, unlike a close alternative, raisins. They provide your dog with benefits such as potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. Cranberries also have low caloric content and properties that combat inflammation. 

puppy with cranberries basket

Dogs have digestive systems that are very different from ours. So treats that are yummy to humans are also yummy to your dog but can affect them in a very different way. So it’s important to know which snacks are okay to share with your pooch and which ones to steer clear off.

So how do cranberries affect your dog? Whenever it comes to any type of human food, your dog should never overindulge. This goes for cranberries as well, irrespective of whether it is raw dried or cooked. 

Cranberries are good for your dog, provided it is served in moderation. However, treats such as cranberry desserts and sauces should never be served to your dog. This is because they are high in sugar and other ingredients that may not fare well in your dog’s digestive system. 

Cranberries do make a delicious treat when given in moderation, and can also be a healthy, immune-boosting, and disease-fighting treat. But it’s possible to feed your pooch too many cranberries as well. So it’s important also to ensure that Fido doesn’t stuff his face with cranberries as it could lead to come nasty symptoms. 

Signs Your Dog Has Eaten too Many Cranberries

Overfeeding cranberries to your dog is not really a train smash since they are non-toxic to dogs and won’t cause serious harm. Although the side effects are not extreme, it can still cause discomfort, and some gastrointestinal issues are not going to be fun at all for Fido. 

So to avoid this from happening, speak to your vet about giving your pooch cranberry treats. Also, be sure to look out for signs and symptoms that alert you when something is right. If your dog is struggling to make it outside to use the bathroom or is vomiting, discontinue the cranberries immediately. 

If your dog shows signs of fatigue, laziness, and erratic behavior, then this could be an indication that he has fed his face with cranberries. 

Some signs for:

Drooling, pupils dilated, lack of focus, panting, low tail carriage head bobbing, and dropped ears. 

Some of the other signs to look out for include vomiting, diarrhea, incontinence, and lack of appetite. 

The Science Behind Dogs and Cranberries

Cranberries can help to support your dog’s immune system and decrease inflammation since they are rich in antioxidants. In case you didn’t know, antioxidants are known for keeping you healthy, and the same goes for dogs. Antioxidants are useful when it comes to alleviating skin problems and allergies, as well as improving cognitive functioning.

Cranberries are also high in vitamins C, potassium, and fiber and low in calories, making it an ideal snack for both you and Fido. The extra fiber in your dog’s diet assists him in lowering his risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and gastrointestinal diseases.

 So a few cranberries here and there will do more good than harm. They will also help to fight bacteria, plaque build-up, reduce tartar prevent cancer, and help enhance your dog’s bladder health.

Simply because cranberries are not toxic to dogs, it doesn’t mean that you should allow them to eat until they drop. If your pooch consumes too many cranberries, he’s sure to end up with an upset stomach.

Cranberries are also highly acidic, so if your pooch consumes too many, he could very well lead to kidney stones, potentially. So always adhered to your vet’s recommendations and be especially cautious if you have a smaller breed of dog. Speak to your vet about the number of cranberries that should be given to your dog and keep an eye out on how often to feed it to them.

bunch of cranberries

History of Cranberries and Dogs

For decades, cranberries have been a staple food for humans. It is also said that because they grow in water, they were a major part of the diet of ancient wolves. It is also believed that the berries that had washed ashore could have been consumed by the dogs of times past.

Humans that housed dogs in communities could’ve also shared these fruit delicacies as yummy treats for their furry friends. Although cranberries have always been a popular and healthy human snack, lots of dog owners want to share them with their pets nowadays. 

This is especially during the holidays. So it should come as a pleasant surprise that cranberries are perfectly safe for dogs, provided it is served in moderation. Though they are not toxic to dogs like other similar fruits such as raisins and grapes, they should still be given to your dog in small doses. As a bonus, cranberries also offer certain health benefits

Cranberries Should be Treat and Not a Habit

It is recommended that you make cranberries a nice treat instead of a regular part of your dog’s diet. Although they are a safe alternative to raisins and grapes, you can still serve your dog the healthier option of cooked or raw cranberries.

Dried cranberries are also an ideal option, but you should avoid the sugary variety. This is because Fido does not need the extra sugar, although you might. Do not feed your pooch leftover cranberry juice or sauce as they may contain some ingredients that do not agree with your dog’s digestive system. 

One way of spicing up your cranberry treat is by sprinkling some on your dog’s food. You may also create some cranberry dog biscuits that are especially for your pooch, and there are some treats that are already infused with cranberries that would be perfect for your dog. So cranberries as a regular treat are ideal; however, you should never give a large dosage.

Teaching Your Dog Not to Overindulge

As the saying goes, dogs will be dogs. Even if your dog is well trained, chances are he’s going to sniff his way to your cranberries stash, especially if he knows you give them to him every now and again. So you can expect Fido’s nose to lead him to trouble almost certainly.

So you need to make sure that your cranberry stash is out of reach and in a safe and secure place that Fido can never get to. 

Your dog should also be trained in obedience commands, as this can be useful in preventing overindulgence. If you catch him about to gulp down a handful of cranberries and say “drop it,” he should drop it immediately. 

Nutritional Benefits of Cranberries for Dogs

Cranberries are not just safe for dogs to eat; they are actually nutritionally beneficial. These fruit delicacies are packed full of powerful health benefits for your furry friend. So let’s take a closer look at some of them.

Vitamins and minerals

In lots of cases, the standard canine diet lacks essential minerals and vitamins. The good news is that cranberries are a great way to fill in this nutrient gap in your dog’s meals. They contain vitamins A, B, and C and additionally possess healthy minerals such as manganese. Therefore, the super-powerful combination of vitamins and minerals provide the following benefits for your dog:

  • Promotes a healthy urinary tract
  • Improves vision
  • Treats painful stomach ulcers
  • Prevents cancer
  • Boost immunity and ability to defend against bad bacteria
  • Treats and prevents bladder infections
  • Prevents the buildup of plaque and reduces tartar
  • Lowers high cholesterol
  • Potassium

Do you have memories of being force-fed bananas as a child? It turns out that like bananas, cranberries are also a powerhouse of nutrient potassium. Interestingly, it is actually considered an electrolyte since it helps retain a healthy level of vital fluids inside the body. Potassium also provides additional benefits, such as:

  • Optimizing healthy nerve and cognitive functions
  • Promoting healthy muscle growth
  • Increasing bone density
  • Regulating heartbeat and muscle contractions
  • Boosting metabolism and efficient absorption of nutrients
  • Encouraging normal heartbeat and cardiac blood flow

Dietary fiber

In order to have a healthy body, fiber is essential. It’s a wonderful aid to gastrointestinal issues and a great regulator of healthy bowel movements. Fiber can also regulate constipation and diarrhea in dogs and promote G.I. homeostasis.

It’s a great way to encourage a healthy weight in your pooch. Foods rich in fiber such as cranberries make your dog feel fuller for longer. So this prevents them from over-eating and ultimately reduces weight gain and prevents obesity.

Adding fiber to your dog’s diet also lowers their risk of heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension, and diabetes.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are a sought after defense to free radicals. They improve immune system functions and also fight disease and eliminate free radicals. They also help to decrease painful inflammation in the body. So antioxidants can also actively prevent illness and eliminate pain in your pooch. They have been said to calm dog allergies and decrease various skin problems. As a bonus, antioxidants are said to improve cognitive functioning.

Possible Side Effects of Cranberries for Dogs

You’re probably waiting for the ball to drop after hearing all the benefits of cranberries. However, the positive news is that when fed in moderation, cranberries are almost side-effect free. However, be sure that there are no sugars, and it should never be served in the form of juices or sauces. 

If they do overindulge in cranberries and end up with an upset stomach, it’s not uncommon. They have a high level of acidity, and that increases the chances of kidney stones developing. So always consult with your vet and find out how much cranberries to feed your dog and how often.

How to Feed Cranberries to Your Dog

Cranberries tend to have a sour and tart taste, and if you’ve eaten them yourself, you already know this. So you can imagine sour isn’t exactly a familiar taste to dogs, neither is it one that pleases their palate. So feeding dogs cranberries, whether it is cooked or raw, doesn’t mean that your dog is necessarily going to take to it. 

Due to the health benefits, however, it can be used in dog food to make it more appetizing and ensure that your dog reaps positive health benefits delivered by cranberries. 

You are welcome to purchase store-bought cranberry infused dog food, supplements, and treats as well. These tasty treats are safe for dogs of all sizes and contain the required serving suggestions, dosage, etc.

Cranberries and Canine Urinary Problems

Bladder and urinary tract infections are quite common in canines especially those that have been spayed. These infections are likely to occur when bacteria enter the bladder and urethra and settle in. If you find that your dog is frequently urinating and experiencing pain while doing so or has blood-tinged, cloudy, dark, or foul-smelling, then a urine infection may very well be the culprit. 

This condition can be quite serious if it’s left untreated and travels to the kidneys. While there is not much evidence supporting the fact that cranberries can cure UTI in progress, some vets do recommend cranberries as a preventative measure for dogs who seem to be prone to UTIs. 

Ultimately, the urinary infection must be treated with antibiotics. However, this is how cranberries can assist in the process. 

It is known that bacteria thrive in alkaline urine or urine containing a high pH, and the cranberries increase the acidity of the urine, making the environment less hospitable for bacteria to thrive. It’s also been said that cranberries prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall, therefore eliminating the chance of an infection occurring.

dog bone shaped cranberry cookies

Cranberry Therapy

It’s always a good idea to speak to a veterinarian prior to attempting to treat your dog’s urinary tract problems on your own. If you find that your dog frequently has urinary tract infections and you are considering cranberry as a treatment option, consult with your vet. He will know what’s best for your dog and advise you whether he thinks that cranberry therapy should be used in the first place. 

It’s also important to remember that urinary tract infections can be treated with antibiotics. Cranberry supplements may come in handy for preventing dogs with recurring urinary infections. However, as is the case with all other supplements and or medications, consultation with your vet is imperative prior to starting any form of treatment on your dog.

Fun Facts about Cranberries

The Wampanoag people who lived in the region called Southeastern Massachusetts used cranberries often. It was used both in its fresh and dried form to preserve food and was also useful for medicinal purposes. Early settlers in North America also made use of cranberries to prevent scurvy. 

Today cranberries are associated with turkey dinners and Thanksgiving day feasts. Additionally, it brings with it a unique flavor and lots of health benefits. It’s been transformed into sauces, juices, dried snacks, and powders.

The fruit also contains 14 aromatic compounds, including benzoate ester, and this gives it the fruity, yet tart-like aroma. And this is likely what makes your dog Tony’s nose up at the berries.

Dried Cranberries contain as much as 20 g of sugar, and that’s equivalent to a small glass of soda. However, studies show that dogs have more consistent blood sugar levels when placed on low glycemic diets. Ultimately, like adults, when dogs indulge in too much sugar, it can lead to diabetes. 

So steer clear of store-bought cranberry products, and this includes cranberry juices that may contain as much sugar as dried cranberries if not more

Conclusion

So we’ve established that dogs can have cranberries and they are safe as well. Dogs can also benefit from cranberry extracts in the form of supplements, chewable pills, and powders, provided they are dog-friendly products.

However, most dogs will prefer the berries in their fresh and natural form, which is perfectly okay and actually recommended. You still need to make sure that you’re not feeding your dog to many cranberries as some serious complications can arise, such as bladder stones caused by excess cranberries. When it comes to UTI infections and using it as a treatment for your dog, always consult with your vet prior to starting your dog on a cranberry therapy treatment. 

Another note is that you should steer clear of cranberries sauces and juices as they could be blended with toxic ingredients such as grapes, which we all know can be fatal to dogs. Other than that, fresh and natural cranberries make a great treat for your dog occasionally and in moderation.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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