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Cranberries, the tart red fruit that brings back fond memories of Thanksgiving dinners with our families, are known to have many health benefits for humans. In addition to cranberry sauce eaten at holiday meals, dried cranberries are a great way to spruce up salads and are a tasty snack. 

You may have wondered if you can share this snack with your canine companion. Continue reading to discover more on feeding dogs cranberries, the potential health benefits cranberries may have for dogs, possible risks, and how to feed them. 

Can Dogs Have Cranberries? 

The short answer is yes, dogs can eat cranberries, but you must be careful about feeding them. Dogs can eat raw cranberries as an occasional treat. They are not known to be toxic to dogs and may even have health benefits. 

However, raw cranberries are extremely tart and a bit bitter, so your dog may not be a fan of this fruit. 

Can Dogs Eat Dried Cranberries? 

Dried cranberries can be given to dogs as a very occasional treat. But before you give your dog dried cranberries or any other dried fruit, ensure that it is free of raisins. Raisins and grapes are toxic to dogs. 

Also, pet parents should be aware that most dried cranberries contain added sugars. Just as in humans, added sugars should be avoided since they can cause weight gain and tooth decay. 

Can Dogs Have Cranberry Sauce? 

While it may be alright to share a piece of turkey breast with a bit of cranberry sauce with your dog at Thanksgiving dinner, feeding dogs cranberry sauce should generally be avoided. It is usually high in added sugars and some recipes may call for grape juice (which can be toxic to dogs). 

Can Dogs Have Cranberry Juice? 

Giving your dog cranberry juice is not recommended due to the high risk that it will contain grape juice. Next time you’re buying cranberry juice at the grocery store, a quick peek at the ingredients will reveal that most cranberry juices, even those that say 100% juice on the label, contain grape juice to help sweeten the juice. In addition, if the juice is not 100% juice, it will likely contain quite a lot of added sugar, which is not recommended for dogs. 

Are Cranberries Good for Dogs? 

Cranberry on table

Cranberries, like other berries, are chock full of health promoting nutrients. They are high in Vitamin C, which can help to improve immune function, acts as an antioxidant and is vital for bone health, among other things. 

These berries contain other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, which is why cranberries are thought to reduce the risk of cancer, intestinal diseases, and heart disease in humans [1]. Cranberries also contain fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive system and may help with weight management

You have likely heard that cranberries are used in people for promoting urinary tract health and cranberry supplements are widely marketed to humans that are at risk for urinary tract infections (UTIs). Cranberries are thought to reduce the ability of E.coli, the bacteria responsible for causing most UTIs, to bind to the wall of the bladder and kidneys. For this reason, it is used to prevent the occurence of UTIs both in humans and dogs alike. 

However, in humans, research studies have shown mixed results on the benefits of cranberry supplements for UTIs [2]. In veterinary medicine, the current consensus is that there is not enough evidence to support the recommendation of cranberries or cranberry supplements for dogs that get frequent bladder infections [3]. However, due to the documented anti-infection properties of cranberries and the safety of cranberry supplements for dogs, many veterinarians still recommend cranberry supplements for dogs at risk for UTIs. 

When Are Cranberries Bad for Dogs? 

cranberry juice on table

As stated previously, pure cranberries are safe for dogs but you should be careful when feeding your dogs cranberries. If dogs don’t chew the cranberries, they may pose a choking hazard. 

As with any new food, cranberries may upset your dog’s stomach, especially if you feed too many at one time. 

Cranberry supplements may not be appropriate for dogs at risk of developing certain types of bladder or kidney stones, so it is important to talk to your veterinarian prior to starting any supplements. 

Cranberries and Dogs: Helpful Feeding Tips

Whether you feed raw or dried cranberries to your dog makes a huge difference. For example, a cup of raw cranberries contains only 46 calories and 4 grams of sugar [4]. Meanwhile, ¼ cup of dried sweetened cranberries contains 123 calories and 29 grams of sugar [5]. For this reason, if you feed your dog raw or frozen raw cranberries, you can easily feed him a handful if you’ve ensured it won’t upset his stomach. If you choose to feed dried cranberries, only a few berries at a time should be fed and it would be a good idea to brush your dog’s teeth afterwards. 

Any cranberry products that may contain grapes, grape juice, raisins or artificial sweeteners should be avoided in order to keep your dog from ingesting toxins. Feeding more than tiny quantities of cranberries that have been sweetened should also be avoided as added sugars can lead to weight gain and cavities. 

If you believe your dog has eaten too many cranberries or has eaten cranberry products that may contain the above mentioned toxins, you should contact your veterinarian or a pet poison control hotline immediately for advice. 

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Haiyan-Liu-2/publication/322366922_American_Cranberries_and_Health_Benefits_-_an_Evolving_Story_of_25_years/links/5b15aaf04585151f91fb0240/American-Cranberries-and-Health-Benefits-an-Evolving-Story-of-25-years.pdf
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24084925/ 
  3. https://www.iscaid.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Urinary-guidelines.pdf
  4. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171722/nutrients
  5. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171723/nutrients

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