Cranberries have a host of benefits for humans. They’re known to lower the risk of urinary tract infections and prevent stomach cancer. As pet parents, we want our dogs to live long, happy and healthy lives, and we know nutrition plays a vital role in that. Can cranberries help make that happen?
The truth is that there’s no scientific evidence that cranberries provide the same benefits to dogs that they do to humans, and when combined with added sugar or trail mixes with raisins, they can be dangerous.
“All of these ingredients are highly toxic to dogs,” says Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH and founder of concierge practice, Animal Acupuncture in NYC. “Even without toxicity, they can cause gastrointestinal upset.”
Dr. Barrack separated fact from fiction and gave tips to safely give cranberries to dogs if you want.
In moderation, dogs can have cranberries — but there are caveats.
“Dogs can eat raw, cooked and dried cranberries,” Dr. Barrack says.
Steer clear of anything with chocolate or juice, as they can cause a dog to become sick and even die.
Cranberries do have antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, but Dr. Barrack says the quantities aren’t large enough to warrant putting in your dog’s diet. Because cranberries help humans with ailments like UTIs, it hasn’t been scientifically proven to do the same for pups.
“Cranberries are acidic, so in large quantities, they can change the body’s pH and actually encourage the development of calcium oxalate urinary bladder stones,” Dr. Barrack says. “These also form more readily in dogs with hypercalcemia and underlying neoplasia or endocrine conditions and thus shouldn’t be consumed by these dogs.”
Some breeds are also more predisposed to developing calcium oxalates, and their parents should avoid feeding them cranberries.
The high-sugar content can also cause weight gain.
Dr. Barrack says cranberries can be an occasional treat if the dog doesn’t have risk factors, but if you notice your dog has an upset stomach, she suggests stopping.
“Call your vet if you are concerned or there is a medical emergency,” she says.
If your dog has UTI issues or you’re looking for ways to prevent cancer, Dr. Barrack recommends speaking with your vet before stocking up on cranberries.
Featured photo: AleksandarNakic/Getty Images
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