When you think cranberries, you probably think Thanksgiving. But the truth is that cranberries are a superfood and are very healthy for us.
But can dogs eat cranberries?
The good news is that, yes, your pup can eat cranberries when appropriately prepared and in moderate amounts.
Read on for more information about the health benefits of cranberries for dogs. We have included info regarding the potential risks and how to add these delicious and fresh fruits to your pup’s diet.
More about cranberries
These small fruits are a part of the vaccinium family, alongside bilberries, blueberries, and huckleberries.
The cranberry has a similar nutritional value and profile as other superfoods such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
They originated in North America and were used by the Native American population for treating various ailments such as kidney or bladder disease. In fact, cranberries were one of the main ingredients in the pemmican, which is considered the “first energy bar” from North America.
The early settlers started to consume and use cranberries for medicinal purposes as well. They used them to treat stomach problems, scurvy, and blood disorders and cure poor appetite.
Cranberries grow in bogs. These are areas with acidic peat soil and water resulting from the harvesting.
Thanks to the air pockets of the cranberries, when the bogs are flooded, the berries float on top of the water. This makes their harvesting much easier. This water also helps protect the berries from pests and from extreme weather.
The many health benefits of feeding cranberries to dogs
Cranberries are widely recognized as superfoods. This is due to their healthy nutrient and antioxidant content. Here is a breakdown of the nutrients that can be found naturally in these small delicious berries. Plus, the health benefits from them for canines:
Vitamins C, B1, B2, and E. These essential vitamins will boost the dog’s immune system. They help prevent heart disease, promote healthy growth and metabolism, and ensure that the pup’s skin is healthy and its coat is shiny and strong.
Vitamin K is a vital nutrient that helps with proper blood clotting. It is crucial for preventing blood loss due to injuries, surgeries, and others.
Fiber can help promote a healthy digestive system and resolve digestive upsets.
The antioxidants in cranberries are vital for fighting off the free radicals. They protect the dog from illnesses and stress. They are also essential for boosting the immune system, and cancer prevention. They can improve the dog’s cognitive function by slowing down the decline of the brain’s health in older pups.
Anthocyanins are flavonoids that give the cranberries that bright red, blue and purple color and act as powerful antioxidants.
Quercetins, too are potent antioxidants. They are especially beneficial for fighting and preventing hypertension, allergies, and inflammations in dogs.
Polyphenols help the antioxidants protect the dog’s body from various illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, inflammation, and oxidative stress.
Proanthocyanidins are plant compounds that give them bright pigmentation and work as antioxidants. In fact, they are about 20 times more potent than the antioxidants in vitamin C and E when it comes to antibacterial qualities. This is why cranberries have long been used to help prevent or cure kidney and bladder diseases and improve bladder health. In canines, these powerful antioxidants can help prevent the buildup of tartar on the teeth and gums.
Potassium, iron, and manganese are some of the minerals found in these small berries. They are essential for a healthy metabolism and growth.
D-Mannose is a natural sugar found in cranberries and other fruits. It helps prevent bacteria from attaching themselves to the bladder walls. This nutrient is especially helpful for pups with UTIs.
Low caloric value – cranberries are low in calories, so they are excellent alternatives to other dog treats with high caloric values.
But as always, speak to your veterinarian before introducing new human food to your dog’s menu.
When can cranberries be harmful to dogs?
Since these small berries are highly acidic, dogs may experience stomach upsets. Symptoms include vomiting, and diarrhea, especially after eating excessive quantities.
Cranberries also contain a compound called oxalate, which exits the body through the urine. Too big a concentration of oxalates can cause the development of bladder stones (calcium oxalate stones) in dogs.
Often there can be trail mixes in the cranberries, including certain nuts, currants, or raisins which can be toxic for canines.
If you want to feed your pup a treat made with cranberries, make sure that the other ingredients are not potentially toxic for dogs. These may include raising, currents, grapes, grape juice, xylitol, or other artificial sweeteners. All of them can be very dangerous for canines.
Do not feed your pup with canned cranberry sauce or juice because it may contain high quantities of sugar or even grape juice, which can be toxic for dogs.
Related: What Berries Can Dogs Eat?
How to add cranberries to my dog’s diet?
Some dogs may gladly eat cranberries as they are, but others may not like the tart and bitter taste too much. In general, pups prefer sweeter berries such as strawberries and blueberries.
But if you want to incorporate cranberries into your pup’s menu, you can add some to their regular dog food.
You can also try adding dried cranberries to the dog bowl, but only if they don’t have added sugar.
Cranberry juice without sugar is another option, but most dogs won’t care too much for the tart taste.
Avoid feeding your dog with canned cranberry sauce if there is added sugar, xylitol, other sweeteners, or grape juice.
Another way to add cranberries to the menu of your pup is to make frozen treats with them. Mix them with other fruits or yogurt, or freeze them in ice cube trays for the best results.
There are many dog-friendly recipes for treats with cranberries that you can prepare yourself. Some of them include cranberry and pumpkin, cranberry and peanut butter and cranberry, oat, and honey treats.
Final verdict – should I feed my dog cranberries?
Cranberries are rich in some essential nutrients and antioxidants and are considered superfoods. They can have multiple health benefits both for humans and dogs.
Moderate amounts of fresh cranberries can boost your pup’s immune system and improve its bladder and kidney health. They can help promote brain health and functioning as well. All vital nutrients can help keep the dog healthy and prevent heart disease, inflammations, and some forms of cancer.
There are some dog supplements and extracts with cranberries that can help pups suffering from chronic urinary tract infections. But make sure to consult with your vet before giving them to your dog.
But as with all other healthy treats, always make sure to follow the 10% rule when feeding your dog. The treats should comprise no more than 10% of the entire daily intake of the dog. The other 90% should come from balanced, good-quality dog food. This will help keep your pup in shape and avoid obesity and related diseases.
So, if you want your four-legged friend to be healthy, happy, and well, you may consider starting to add some small quantities of cranberries to its daily and weekly menu!