Do you want to share your fruity snack with your dog? Are you wondering whether cranberries have the natural benefits for our pets that they can for us? In Can Dogs Have Cranberries we answer that important question – and many more!
As a dog owner, your social media feed may be filled with adorable pictures of canines jumping through the mud, catching the biggest stick possible, and cuddling with their human owners.
You undoubtedly see some pretty interesting stories, along with some x-ray evidence, of dogs eating some not so edible items (like the little Yorkie in the traditional Monopoly set or a whole bunch of socks right out of the dryer).
While it may be obvious to you (but not always to your canine companion) that non food items are a definite no-no when it comes to mealtime, you may not always realize that not all the foods in your own cupboard are safe for your pup too.
Are Cranberries Bad For Dogs?
Knowing what human food is okay to feed your dog is a very common and understandable concern for pet owners.
After all, a number of food items that include chocolate and the artificial sweetener xylitol are on the top of the Pet Poison Helpline’s list of common items that poison dogs.
In this article, we are going to discuss one specific food that is often confusing for pet owners, cranberries.
Keep reading to find out if cranberries are indeed safe for your canine companion and whether or not too many of the favorite Thanksgiving fruit is a bad thing.
Are Cranberries Safe for Dogs?
The simple answer to the questions, can dogs eat cranberries? Is yes, they can.
In moderate amounts, cranberries are safe for dogs.
However, you might really want to ask whether or not your dog will actually want to eat cranberries in their natural state.
The answer to this is probably a resounding no.
Think of your own puckered lips and wide eyes when popping a handful of fresh cranberries in your mouth. Cranberries are undoubtedly tart!
The taste of cranberries
Dogs have a similar sense of taste as their human counterparts with taste buds that identify sweet, sour, salty, and bitter food items.
However, as shocking as it may seem, dogs do not have nearly as many individual taste buds as their owners. Humans have 9,000 lip-smacking buds while canines have only around 1,700.
While it may seem that your dog might be less likely to be bothered by a few tart cranberries due to a reduced sense of taste, this is simply not the case. Your dog is likely to be much more put off by the sharp aroma of a cranberry instead.
While your dog’s taste buds do not measure up to your own, his sense of smell is by far superior. Your canine can smell up to 100,000 times better than you can, thanks to the grand total of 300 million olfactory receptors.
Not only is the nose more sensitive, but the brain is 40 times more powerful when it comes to analyzing smells.
That is surely a lot of nose and brain power working together.
Some research can even help us to understand how that amazing sense of smell may lead to a less than stellar desire for some cranberries.
According to a study published in the Journal of Food Science, cranberries have 14 aromatic compounds, including benzoate ester, that helps to give the cranberries their fruity, but tart, aroma.
This is likely what makes your canine turn up his nose to the berries.
Are Cranberries Good For Dogs?
Now that you understand that your dog can safely eat small quantities of cranberries, even if he does not want to, you may want to know if they are actually good for your pet.
Cranberry Extract For Dogs
In a study published by the American Journal of Veterinary Research, dogs with chronic UTI issue were given a small amount of cranberry extract for 60 days.
All the dogs treated with the cranberry were free of urinary tract infections during the study. Also, urinalysis concluded that harmful bacteria in the urinary tract reduced significantly in number.
The cranberry worked as a preventative, not a cure. But, this is good news for you if your dog has frequent UTIs, especially since results looked good after only 30 days of treatment.
Cranberries For Dog UTI
If you want to give your dog with recurrent UTI issues cranberries, then speak with your veterinarian first. Make a quick appointment so a urinalysis can be completed. Also, alert the professional on what you intend on doing.
The nasty bacteria strains targeted by the immune system and cause the infections include E. coli, Proteus, and Staphylococcus species.
Cranberries are also helpful in stopping bacteria from clinging to the wall of the bladder. This is extremely important when it comes to preventing a UTI. If bacteria cannot hold onto the lining, they cannot multiply, thrive, and build into a nasty infection.
A flavonoid or antioxidant called proanthocyanidin is responsible for this.
Do not let the fancy name fool you, proanthocyanidins work very simply by making the bladder wall slippery and forcing the microorganisms to flush their way out of the body with the rest of your dog’s urine.
How Many Cranberries Can Dogs Eat?
Cranberry extract can be given to dogs and so can capsules and pills. A whole bunch of cranberry products can be found at your local pet health store. Your veterinarian may also have some good advice on the best product for your pup.
In your quest to find the best supplement, you may wonder, how much cranberry should I give my dog? Actually, this is a very important question.
There really is, “too much of a good thing” when it comes to cranberries and your dog’s urinary health. In fact, too much cranberry can lead to a very bad thing.
Cranberry Dosage For Dogs
You likely understand that cranberries are highly acidic. If your dog consumes too many acids, the pH of his urine starts to change. A typical and healthy dog will usually have pH neutral urine with a value between about 6.5 and 7.
When the urine becomes acidic, urinary calculi can grow. This scientific sounding name really just refers to the formation of bladder stones. Bladder stones are a lot like kidney stones that form in humans due to the buildup of minerals.
In dogs, calcium oxalate is the substance that develops into stones. Small grains, like pieces of sand, collect and build rock hard formations. If your canine tries to urinate and the stones start to move out of the bladder, the urethra can become obstructed.
An obstructed urethra is an emergency and requires immediate veterinary attention. Your poor pup many even need surgery!
You can avoid serious swings in urine pH with a conservative administration of cranberry. Small doses can do a world of good, so stick with the recommendations of the extract bottle.
If you have a small dog, then a 100 milligram supplement once a day may be more than enough, while larger dogs may need up to 400 milligrams.
Your veterinarian can be a great resource when trying to decide on the perfect dose for your canine companion, so do not hesitate to ask.
Can Dogs Eat Dried Cranberries?
Dried cranberries simply do not have the same tang and mouth-puckering effect as the ripe berries.
This is due to the large amounts of sugar that are added during the dehydration process. A singe serving of dried cranberries contains more than 20 grams of sugar. That is as much sugar as a small glass of soda!
A little bit of sugar cannot hurt, right? Unfortunately, this is far from true.
Studies show that dogs have more consistent blood sugar levels when they are placed on a diet that is low on the glycemic index scale. The glycemic index helps to explain how the blood glucose levels are affected by certain types of foods.
Foods that are high on the glycemic index raise blood sugar, while low glycemic index foods help to maintain consistent and healthy blood sugar.
Dogs are just like you and me; they can develop diabetes if they are allowed to eat tons of sugar on a regular basis.
Skip the pre-packaged dried cranberries and throw out the cranberry juice while you are at it.
Cranberry juice typically has just as much, or more sugar than a serving of dried cranberries.
Can Dogs Eat Cranberry Sauce?
While a handful of sugar-laden dried cranberries probably will not hurt your pup, some of the cranberry sauce that you put out for your Thanksgiving feast just might.
Cranberry sauce, as well as mixed berry concoctions and even some cranberry juice cocktails, contain grape juice or raisins. Raisins, grapes, and grape juice are all toxic to dogs.
The reason for the exact toxicity has long been studied, and researchers believe there is a toxic compound within the flesh of the grape itself. It is a mystery as to what the compound exactly is, but we know that it is a definite no-no to feed your pup any sort of grape product.
Thanks to a report published by Auburn University’s Department of Clinical Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine, we know exactly what can happen if a dog does consume a grape or raisin, so for future reference, you should make sure you know all about the symptoms.
Benefits of Cranberries for Dogs? – A Conclusion
In conclusion, dogs can benefit from cranberry extract as well as supplements, powders, chewable pills, and other types of dog friendly products.
However, you need to make sure that you are not giving your dog a whole lot of the tart berries each and every day or some serious complications can arise.
If you have any questions about your dog, the prevention of UTIs, or the dosage recommendations for your Shih Tzu or St. Bernard, then a quick trip to the vet is a good idea.
How about you?
Have you tried cranberry supplements for your own dog?
What are your thoughts on using natural treatments to help keep UTIs and other infections at bay? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear what you think.
- CROTEAU, R. J. and FAGERSON, I. S. (1968), Major Volatile Components of the Juice of American Cranberry. Journal of Food Science.
- Hsin-I Chou DVM, MSC; Kuan-Sheng Chen DVM, PhD; Hsien-Chi Wang DVM, PhD; Wei-Ming Lee DVM, PhD. 2016. Effects of cranberry extract on prevention of urinary tract infection in dogs and on adhesion of Escherichia coli to Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. American Journal of Veterinary Research
- Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada. 2015. Effect of an extruded pea or rice diet on postprandial insulin and cardiovascular responses in dogs. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl).
- Pet poison helpline