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Can Dogs Eat Cranberries? Vet-Reviewed Nutritional Guide

Written by: Sarah Psaradelis

Last Updated on June 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

cranberries spilled from the jar

Can Dogs Eat Cranberries? Vet-Reviewed Nutritional Guide


Dr. Ashley Darby Photo


Dr. Ashley Darby

BVSc (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cranberries are sweet yet slightly bitter-tasting fruits used in a range of dishes. They mostly consist of water, but they are naturally rich in antioxidants and several vitamins and minerals too. We often enjoy cranberries for breakfast, dessert, or as salad toppers and they have numerous health benefits for us. However, did you know that dogs can benefit from eating cranberries too?

Cranberries can be a nutritious and tasty snack for dogs if they are fed appropriately. This article will discuss whether cranberries are safe for dogs along with the potential benefits and concerns you should know before feeding them.

Is It Safe for Dogs to Eat Cranberries?

Dogs can safely eat cranberries in moderation if they are served plain with no harmful additives. However, not all dogs find the taste of cranberries appealing. If your dog happens to like the way cranberries taste, you can offer it in small quantities alongside their main diet.

Cranberries are regarded as a canine superfood and are packed with beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants and essential vitamins. Only plain, fresh cranberries are safe for dogs. You generally want to avoid feeding cranberries that are canned, in a sauce, or among foods that are harmful to dogs.

Dried cranberries prepared without risky ingredients or added sugars are usually safe for dogs. However, they can be a choking hazard and should be offered cautiously. Cranberry juice free from harmful additives and artificial sweeteners like xylitol is safe for dogs in moderation, although due to the added sugar in some juices we recommend sticking to cranberries in fruit form.

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Benefits of Feeding Cranberries to Dogs

Cranberries have several potential health benefits for dogs, which will be discussed below.

1. Urinary Tract Health

Cranberries contain antioxidant proanthocyanidins (PACs) which could help prevent bacteria from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract. Although cranberries cannot cure or necessarily prevent urinary tract infections (UTI) in dogs, they may help maintain good urinary tract health. You should continue giving your dog the appropriate medications if they currently have a UTI rather than rely on cranberries as a treatment.

2. Oral Health

The same antioxidant that may help reduce the buildup of bacteria in the urinary tract could have the same benefits for oral health too. Proanthocyanidins also have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and may be an oral-friendly addition to your dog’s diet.

3. Anthocyanins

Cranberries contain anthocyanins, which are antioxidants responsible for cranberries’ pink or red coloration. Anthocyanins have several potential health benefits and are known to fight oxidative stress and free radicals. Furthermore, anthocyanins may have a positive effect on brain and cardiovascular health in people.

4. Vitamin E

Cranberries are high in several vitamins, including vitamin E. Dogs require vitamin E to support their immune system and to help protect against free radicals and cell damage. Vitamin E could benefit a dog’s liver health and promote a healthy skin and coat too.

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Concerns with Feeding Cranberries to Dogs

Although cranberries can be healthy for dogs when fed appropriately, there are some concerns to consider first. The main concern is that cranberries are naturally acidic which could upset your dog’s stomach. Aside from the acidity, cranberries contain sugars such as sucrose, glucose, and fructose that can upset your dog’s stomach.

That’s why you want to slowly introduce cranberries into your dog’s diet, especially if they have a sensitive stomach. Cranberries are also a choking hazard, so you should always supervise your dog while they are eating them.

Another concern to be wary of when feeding cranberries to dogs is that they are naturally high in oxalates which could lead to the formation of kidney stones. You want to avoid feeding cranberries to dogs prone to kidney stones.

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How to Feed Cranberries to Dogs

You can offer dogs cranberries one to three times a week alongside their main, balanced diet. Feeding too many cranberries at once could upset your dog’s stomach, so only feed a few at a time.

The number of cranberries your dog should eat can vary depending on their size and health. Most small dog breeds should only eat two to three cranberries at a time, while medium breeds can eat up to six. Large breeds can enjoy about 8 to 10 cranberries at once and extra-large breeds can eat up to 15. You can either offer the cranberries to your dog as a treat or use it as a tasty food topper over their main meal.

The cranberries should be plain and served without the stem. Always ensure that the cranberries contain no harmful ingredients if they are fed as anything other than fresh fruit.

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Cranberries are a tasty, sweet snack that dogs can enjoy in moderation. You can either feed raw, dried, or juiced cranberries if they contain no harmful ingredients that could put your dog’s health at risk. Cranberries are rich in antioxidants that can benefit a dog’s urinary tract and potentially oral health.

Furthermore, the antioxidants in cranberries have anti-inflammatory properties and could help fight free radicals. You want to gradually introduce cranberries into your dog’s diet to avoid upsetting their stomach.

Featured Image Credit: Rasa Kasparaviciene, Unsplash

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