Another super food of the human world is cranberries, a close relation to the beloved blueberry. Dogs are allowed blueberries and they’re packed with brilliant nutrients that can benefit your fur baby’s health, so can dogs eat cranberries and benefit from them too?
You might have heard cranberries are good for helping treat a dog’s UTI and wondered if there’s any truth in the home remedy. Read on to find out whether cranberries can be fed to dogs, and whether the old wives “tail” on their potent health benefits is fact or fiction.
Yes, dogs can eat cranberries. These tart berries are perfectly safe for dogs to eat because they are not toxic and they’re actually very healthy for your furry friend.
But, these berries are very sharp and the taste can put some dogs off. Some pups will happily eat a few berries handed to them, while others might take a bite and spit them back out, finding them too tart to be a real treat. However, even these picky pups tend to eat cranberries when mixed with other foods. Plus, some dog food recipes make use of cranberries for their powerful antioxidant properties and the wealth of nutrients inside them.
Your dog doesn’t need to eat a lot of cranberries though. If you have a tiny breed like a Chihuahua, they should only eat one or two berries a day. If you’ve got a larger breed, they can safely tuck into a few more.
It’s important not to let your dog eat tons of cranberries though because it can make them unwell. These berries are quite acidic, so eating a lot of them can cause stomach upset including belly ache, vomiting, or diarrhoea. Most fruits and veggies can make a dog sick if they eat too many though, which is why moderation and a balanced diet is key for a happy, healthy dog.
Dried cranberries are non-toxic and perfectly safe for dogs to eat but you have to be mindful of how many they can safely scoff. Some dried cranberries might be sweetened, which can negate all the goodness the berry has. Plus, the extra sugar or sweetener isn’t any good for your pooch.
Many dried cranberries are found in mixes with other dried fruits and nuts. You should never feed mixed berries and nuts to your dog because they could contain raisins, sultanas, currants, or macadamia nuts, which are all toxic to dogs.
If you’ve got a pack of all-natural dried cranberries without any additional ingredients, feel free to let your dog have a few.
Dried cranberries are more concentrated than regular cranberries since all the moisture is removed. This means they still deliver all the same nutrients but it’s easy to eat more of them without realising since they’re smaller. Just make sure to exercise moderation so your dog doesn’t eat loads of them and end up with an upset stomach.
Technically dogs can have cranberry juice, but you will need to be careful. Most cranberry juices also contain sugars and sweeteners which aren’t good for your dog and don’t need to be included in their diet.
Cranberry juice isn’t as good as a whole, fresh cranberries though as it is missing some of the goodness you’d find in the fruit. There’s no skin so there’s next to no fibre and many of the amazing antioxidants and polyphenols (the natural chemicals that make cranberries such a super food) are missing. This is all because the juice is sieved and strained to get everything out that isn’t liquid.
Speaking of sweeteners, don’t feed your dog any cranberry juice with unnamed sweeteners or marked simply “with sweetener”. One common sweetener, xylitol, is highly toxic to dogs. So if there’s any risk it could be in the carton, do not give it to your dog. Many juices that don’t have added sugar do have sweeteners instead, so be aware and always check the label.
Your dog can technically eat cranberry sauce but it doesn’t mean that they should. Many cranberry sauces don’t contain anything toxic so they are “safe” for dogs to eat, however, they do pack a lot of sugar in those jars of sauce. Dogs don’t really need any added sugar in their diet, so it’s best not to feed them sweet things. Plus, too much sugar in their diet over time can lead to weight gain and diabetes.
Yes, cranberries are good for dogs because there’s nothing toxic or “bad” found in those little berries, but plenty of good stuff.
Cranberries are powerful antioxidants thanks to the abundance of vitamin C and E inside them. These are essential for healthy skin, fur, and bones but also help to reduce inflammation and combat cell damage, which can reduce the risk of cancer. Cranberries also contain manganese, a mineral that acts like an antioxidant sidekick and improves their function. It’s also important for your dog’s metabolism, including enzyme production, as well as allowing their body to use protein and carbs correctly.
There’s also evidence that cranberries can actually increase the digestibility of a dog’s diet. In other words, eating some cranberries every day helped some dogs to absorb more of the nutrients from their food. It’s believed that cranberries actually improve a dog’s intestinal function even in a perfectly healthy pooch.
Although decidedly different to dogs, studies of cranberry extract fed to mice showed that it benefitted the little critters in loads of different ways, from reducing intestinal inflammation to decreasing visceral fat, and improving insulin sensitivity. From this, it’s possible that cranberries can help to reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Cranberries can help to prevent UTIs because they can stop E. Coli bacteria from sticking to kidney cells, which is a common cause of UTI. However, there are a number of other reasons a dog might develop a urine tract infection so a dog if your pooch is regularly eating cranberries, they might still develop a UTI.
Many people swear by cranberries and cranberry juice in preventing UTIs for themselves and their dogs. Clinical evidence is a little confusing and opinion still divided, but there are a number of studies that indicate that cranberries can help to reduce the risk of your pooch developing a UTI.
The fact that cranberries prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder and kidneys is proven, and so the risk of certain kinds of infection is reduced. Although there is no evidence that cranberries are more effective than antibiotics in treating a UTI, it hasn’t been proven they aren’t less effective either. Plus, we do know that cranberries are perfectly safe for dogs to eat, which means there’s no harm in trying to feed your dog a few to try and prevent a problem.
Fresh cranberries are a better bet than juice as your pup is getting all the goodness from the berry, including the fibre from the skin. Cranberries are usually included in fresh dog food for their rich antioxidant properties that are proven to positively benefit pooches.
Yes, dogs can eat cranberries and these brilliant berries are highly nutritious for your furry friend. Depending on your dog’s individual taste, they might not like the tart taste of these berries on their own. Some pups wolf them down, others might need them mixed in with their meals. Dogs can also eat dried cranberries but you should make sure they are unsweetened and don’t contain other dried fruits like raisins or sultanas which are toxic to dogs.
Cranberry juice and sauce might be safe for dogs to eat but there is always the presence of additional ingredients, mostly sugar and sweeteners. These additional ingredients aren’t good for your pooch, so it’s usually best not to feed them to Fido. But if your pup laps up some spilt juice or snaffles a little sauce on some turkey, it shouldn’t do them any harm.
If you’d like your dog to benefit from these brilliant berries, it’s best to offer them whole, fresh cranberries or unsweetened dried cranberries to munch. We actually include cranberry extract into our Pure recipes, so your dog can reap all the goodness from this tiny fruit in every meal. Pure is complete and balanced, packed full of protein, fruit and vegetables to help your dog feel happier and healthier.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.