Along with being a Thanksgiving staple, cranberries are known for being a superfood when it comes to human health, thanks to their high level of nutrients and antioxidants. But what happens if you decide to share some cranberries with Fido as a tart treat?
Can My Dog Eat Cranberries?
It’s always better to be safe than sorry when introducing new foods to your dog’s diet; feeding potentially toxic foods to our pets simply isn’t worth it. Fortunately, cranberries on their own are generally safe for dogs to eat. In fact, they have several nutritional benefits for dogs as well as humans: they can support your pup’s immune system and cognitive health, and support a healthy response to inflammation, seasonal allergies and allergy-related skin issues.
Cranberries and UTIs
For many of us, a UTI (urinary tract infection) is often accompanied by a trip to the grocery store for some cranberry juice. This is because cranberries contain A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) which prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. Similarly, cranberries can help support urinary tract health by balancing bladder PH levels and helping the bladder function normally.
Some common canine UTI symptoms to look for include:
- starting and stopping frequently while urinating
- whimpering in pain, or refusing to urinate altogether
- -icking the urinary opening
- dribbling urine, which could be a sign that your dog wasn’t able to completely empty his bladder outside
- abnormal pee patterns, like urinating more frequently or in strange places around the house
- bloody or cloudy urine
While regular cranberry consumption can help with bladder issues, it should be noted that cranberries should not be used as an alternative to medical treatment (for humans and dogs alike). Once a UT issue occurs, the best route is to talk to a medical professional—in this case, the vet—who will prescribe the proper medication and antibiotics.
Can Cranberries Cause Problems for My Dog?
While cranberries are generally safe for your pup, it’s still important to make sure you’re aware of exactly what you’re feeding him. If cranberries are mixed with other fruits such as raisins, it’s better to hold off on sharing your snack with your furry friend; grapes and raisins have been known to be toxic for dogs, causing kidney failure. For this reason, it’s also a good idea to avoid prepared cranberry dishes which contain grape juice. Alcohol and large amounts of sugar can also be dangerous for your dog, so avoid sharing any spruced up cranberry dishes with your pooch, including cranberry juice.
Cranberries should be fed to your pup in moderation (yes, even the plain ones). As with any other treat, too much could result in an upset stomach. Veterinarians advise against giving large amounts of cranberries to your canine on a regular basis, as too much could lead to the development of calcium oxalate stones (rock-like mineral formations) in his bladder due to their high level of acidity. If your pooch is especially susceptible to bladder or kidney stones, it may be best to if cranberries are an occasional treat rather than a regular part of his diet.
How Should I Feed Cranberries to My Dog?
For starters, cranberries should only be fed to Fido if they’re plain (no added sugars or other ingredients). They can be raw, dried or cooked, depending on your pup’s preference. Fresh, in-season cranberries are ideal, but defrosted frozen cranberries aren’t a bad second choice (make sure they’re thawed to avoid damaging your dog’s teeth).
Keep in mind, though, that there’s a chance your pooch may not even like cranberries—that tart, sour taste isn’t exactly a common feature in dog foods. One option is to try mixing cranberries into your Fido’s food bowl, starting out with a small amount and gradually adding more over time as he becomes comfortable with the taste.
Fortunately, even your pup isn’t a fan of cranberries on their own, he can still reap their nutritional benefits through DIY, make-your-own cranberry dog treats.
According to Dr. Albert Ahn, DVM, veterinary advisor for Myos Pet, smaller dogs should stick to one or two cranberries per day; the larger the dog, the more cranberries he can have. Regardless of your dog’s size, keep an eye out for any signs of an upset stomach such as vomiting or diarrhea.
It’s never a bad idea to consult with your vet before introducing new foods into your pup’s diet. Every dog is different, and there’s no “one size fits all” formula for how to feed cranberries to your pup.