can dogs eat cranberries?

Can Dogs Eat Cranberries?

Cranberries are great for humans, they are loaded with antioxidants and other healthy minerals.

But can dogs eat cranberries? Are cranberries healthy for dogs to eat?

Yes, dogs can eat cranberries! Cranberries are safe to feed your dog, they can eat them raw, cooked, or dried in small quantities. Cranberries are a winter favorite in the USA, especially around the holidays. They can typically be found in grocery stores right before Thanksgiving and often a few weeks past the new year. They are an excellent treat for humans, but what about our furry friends? Can dogs eat cranberries safely? Dogs can eat cranberries, so feeding them only small amounts is prudent to avoid upsetting their stomachs.

So this holiday season if your dog happens to get into the bowl of cranberries, you have very little to worry about.  Dogs can eat cranberries!  They are not toxic to them.  Even though cranberries are not toxic or poisonous to dogs, that does not mean you should feed loads of them to your pup.  Chances are that if you feed a large bowl to your dog all at once, you are going to get some nasty side effects.  When you introduce anything new to your pet’s diet, do it slowly over a few days.  Otherwise, you may be dealing with vomiting or even worse diarrhea.

Can Dogs Eat Cranberries For UTI?

A study was done on a set of 12 dogs study done on a set of 12 dogs that were prone to previous urinary tract infections.  The dogs were given some cranberry extract for 60 days.  Urine samples were taken from these dogs at 30 days and 60 days.  The test runs on these samples concluded that the bacterial adhesion to the Madin-Darby canine kidney cells, also known as MDCK Cells, was significantly reduced.  None of the dogs, who had chronic UIT issues, got UTIs during the study.  The consensus was that the cranberry extract not only improved bladder health but also may help prevent UTIs in dogs.

Cranberries can help prevent UTI

Health Benefits Of Cranberries for Dogs

Now that we established dogs can eat cranberries, the next question is can dogs eat cranberries for health benefits? If so, what are the health benefits for dogs?  Cranberries are one of those antioxidant-rich superfoods that provide many vitamins and minerals.  This superfood helps support the dog’s immune system by providing vitamins C, E, and K. 

  • Vitamin C – Also called ascorbic acid – Is essential for healthy bones, immune system, skin, and muscle tissue
  • Vitamin E – Immune system support
  • Vitamin K – Essential in forming blood clots, prevents excessive bleeding

 In addition to those vitamins, cranberries are high in dietary fiber which helps the dog regulate its GI tract.  There are also some other powerful antioxidants in cranberries that make them so unique.  Cranberries are loaded with the following antioxidants: Quercetin, Myricetin, Peonidin, Ursolic acid, and A-type proanthocyanins. 

Quercetin –

Cranberries are among the few fruit sources of this flavonoid.  Quercetin is also the most abundant antioxidant in cranberries.  This powerful antioxidant helps reduce inflammation, can reduce allergy symptoms, and also reduces blood pressure.  Antioxidants bind to free radicals in the dog’s body and they neutralize them.  Excessive amounts of free radicals in the dog’s body can lead to the activation of otherwise dormant genes.  This in turn can cause inflammation which is something we don’t want.

Myricetin –

Cranberries are one of the richest sources of antioxidants called Myricetin.  According to a study published in the national library of medicine, this antioxidant is also antimicrobial, antidiabetic, anticancer, immune regulating, cardioprotective, antihypertension, and wound healing.  It truly is a super antioxidant and you should check out the study if you want more scientific information on it.

Peonidin –

This antioxidant is also found in cranberries, it has similar properties to Quercetin and Myricetin.  This chemical is also what causes the red color of the cranberries.

Ursolic Acid –

Studies have shown that this chemical can affect growth factors in animals.  It also helps to reduce inflammation specifically in the animal’s intestinal tract, which allows for better nutrient absorption.

A-Type Proanthocyanins –

This antioxidant is also known as PAC.  PAC has been found to have properties that will reduce UTIs if consumed regularly.  The exact dosage needed for a dog is not known.  Evidence does suggest that daily intake can reduce the incidence of UTIs in dogs.

Health Benefits of Cranberries

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Cranberries?

Depending on how they are prepared, dogs can eat cooked cranberries.   The key to feeding your dog cranberries is to make sure they are plain old cranberries and do not have any flavor enhancers.  They can be gently boiled or steamed to cook them down into a sauce or paste. 

Cranberry sauce can be a great treat to place inside Kong toys.  If you haven’t seen them, they are typically red rubber-looking toys that you can add peanut butter or other sticky substances that occupy the dog’s curious nature and food drive. Some dogs will play with those toys for an hour or two before they get bored.   The most important thing here is that the cranberries need to be cooked alone, they need to be plain.

Can Dogs Eat Dried Cranberries?

For the most part, dried cranberries are safe for dogs if you made them yourself.  If you buy a commercial product, check the ingredients for added sugar or xylitol.   The added sugar is not good for dogs and Xylitol is deadly for dogs.   If you do not know what the ingredients are, it is best to avoid them together.  In reality, it is better to feed your dog raw cranberries since the dried ones do not have all of the antioxidants.   

Can Dogs Drink Cranberry Juice?

It is best to avoid giving your dog cranberry juice. There are typically too many added sugars for it to be healthy for your dog to drink. If you happen to buy the natural kind, it may not have added sugars, however, most of the benefits for the dog come from the actual berry and not the juice.  By only letting your dog have the juice you are reducing the exposure to all of the beneficial antioxidants.  Many of the antioxidants are in the skin and seeds of the berry. 

dogs should not drink cranberry juice

FAQ: Can Dogs Eat Cranberries

Can dogs eat cranberry relish?

Yes, dogs can eat cranberry relish if it is the traditional kind. The traditional cranberry relish that is just cranberries, orange, apple, and a little sugar is edible for dogs.  Don’t panic if the dog ate some from thanksgiving dinner, it should not harm the dog.  It should not be fed to a dog regularly, the added sugar and the orange can both have some negative side effects. 

If your dog ate a lot of cranberry relish, chances are that it could experience some mild GI issues.  If this happens to your dog, monitor for dehydration and start a bland diet for a few days.  It may take a few days for the dog’s GI tract to settle down. After the issues settle, slowly transition back to the dog’s normal food.

Can dogs eat cranberry sauce? 

Dogs can also eat cranberry sauce if it does not have added spices. Avoid sauces such as cranberries with garlic. The thing to watch out for is currants and raisins that sometimes get added to the sauce.  They can both be fatal if ingested by dogs.  Other than that risk, the sugar content is too high to make it part of the normal diet.  Instead, try feeding your pet some raw cranberries.

How much cranberry can a dog eat?

There is no recommended feeding amount for dogs.  It would be prudent to start slow. Smaller dogs should only try 1 or 2 cranberries to see if any issues arise.  The larger the dog, the more it can eat at one time.  You can slowly increase the amount you give over a few days. 

The main thing to remember about feeding your dog any fruit is that it should not exceed 1 or 2 percent of their daily intake.  Dogs do not need to consume fruits like humans do to have optimal health. If you exceed the normal 1-2% you may end up hurting the dog by throwing its nutritional balance out of whack.

How many dried cranberries can I give my dog?

These are not recommended since they are mostly sugar. The vitamins and minerals are no longer present after the drying process.  It can also be pretty easy to mistake raisins for dried cranberries. Be cautious if you plan to feed your dog dried cranberries.  It would be better to use fresh raw cranberries so your dog can get the added health benefits.

Can dogs eat yogurt-covered cranberries?

Dogs can eat both yogurt and cranberries.  Be sure the yogurt is plain old Greek yogurt with nothing else added.  This can actually help the dog’s GI tract by adding some probiotics.  Do not feed large amounts, the fats in milk products are not really needed in a dog’s diet.  

Can dogs have cranberry pills?

This is an absolute no if the pills were designed for humans.  A dog has much different nutritional needs and many things that are good for humans are toxic to dogs.  Avoid giving your dog any human supplements unless prescribed by your veterinarian.  They do make dog supplements that contain cranberries, these are typically safe but you should still consult your veterinarian to see if they are necessary. 

Summary: Can Dogs Eat Cranberries

  • Dogs can eat cranberries, they are non-toxic and not poisonous.
  • Cranberries offer many vitamins and minerals that are excellent for a dog’s health.
  • Dogs can eat cranberries raw, cooked, in relish, or sauces as long as they are plain. 
  • Dried cranberries are not recommended because of their look-alike (raisins), they are also high in sugar.
  • Try Broccoli, Collard Greens, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, or Cucumbers as other healthy snacks.

  Let us know if you feed your dog cranberries, have you seen any health improvements in your dog since doing so?

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