There’s no denying the pop of vibrant red cranberries adds festive cheer to the holiday dining table. Yet, they’re more than a seasonal side dish. This small fruit packs a punch on the health-o-meter no matter the season.
Cranberries even hold a spot on the superfoods list, so you can feel good about snacking on them. But what about your pup? As a doting pet parent, you might wonder if they’re good for your dog. Can dogs have cranberries? Are they safe for your pooch?
Like many human foods, it depends.
Cranberries Are Not Toxic to Dogs
Firstly, cranberries are not toxic for pups. Thank goodness! But that doesn’t mean your dog should eat a lot of them. Your dog may not even like them. Dogs have their preferences and don’t always love the tartness of unsweetened cranberries.
But if your dog is a chowhound who gobbles down anything you offer, or if they like cranberries, then pay attention to the number of cranberries they eat. You don’t want to keep up a steady stream of cranberry snacks for your pooch.
First, new foods can lead to an upset stomach. Second, cranberries can pose a choking hazard. This is especially true if your dog is a rushed eater or is a small dog.
Never feed your dog sugar-laden cranberries. If you offer your dog cranberries, make sure they’re plain. Added sugars and artificial sweeteners like xylitol are dangerous for dogs.
Yet, plain, unsweetened cranberries offer many health benefits for dogs and their people.
4 Health Benefits of Cranberries for Dogs
Research shows cranberries are good for the heart, teeth, and gut. Bursting with vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, and manganese, these small fruits support immune health, metabolism, and blood clotting.
Here are a few health benefits of this potent fruit.
Ideally, your dog’s diet includes plenty of antioxidants. Antioxidants are nature’s superheroes because they neutralize dangerous free radicals that can lead to cancer and other health problems.
Cranberries are packed with a plant compound called proanthocyanidins. These proanthocyanidins are a type of antioxidant known as flavonoids, and they support your dog’s health.
- Boost the immune system
- Reduce inflammation
- Prevent tartar and plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth
- Promote bladder health
- Reduces cancer risk
That’s a lot of goodness in a small size! But again, these health benefits relate to unsweetened cranberries.
Cranberries are Good for the Gut
You’ve probably heard that cranberries prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs.) While the research is inconclusive, cranberries indeed boost gut health. Thanks to those helpful proanthocyanidins, cranberries make it harder for “bad” bacteria like E. Coli to adhere to the urinary tract. At least one study found that feeding dogs cranberry extract kept the participating pups from developing a UTI.
Cranberries contain quercetin, a natural anti-inflammatory. Because inflammation leads to heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, you definitely want to reduce it. Quercetin even helps control allergies. You can find this important ingredient in dark fruits like cranberries, apples, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, too. Yum!
Cranberries Help Clean the Teeth
Cranberries can even help clean your dog’s teeth! Studies show that cranberries have properties that don’t let bacteria stick to your dog’s teeth, either. They may even reduce the amount of plaque created in the first place! I think you’ll agree if your dog can eat something that improves their oral health, that’s a good thing.
Basically, unsweetened cranberries add good stuff and eliminate bad stuff in your dog’s body.
With all these health benefits of feeding cranberries, you might wonder about the validity of cranberry extract or cranberry supplements for your dog. Those can help your dog get the benefits of cranberries without the concern of overfeeding cranberries.
Sometimes, people ask if they can give their dog 100% cranberry juice. If you read the label and it truly is unsweetened cranberry juice, a little will be ok, but not too much, or you risk an upset stomach. Never give your furry friend cranberry juice cocktail, as that stuff is loaded with sugar.
Additionally, never feed your dog trail mix. Many trail mixes include raisins and chocolate, which are harmful ingredients for your pooch. Likewise, don’t feed your pup cranberry sauce no matter how much they beg. Cranberry sauce is loaded with added sugar.
You can also choose to feed your pooch a healthy diet with venison, sweet potatoes, cranberries, fish oil, and other good ingredients. Healthy whole foods are great for pet health and wellness.
Yet, you may still have questions about feeding your dog raw cranberries.
How Many Cranberries Can You Feed Your Dog?
If you offer your pup an unsweetened cranberry and they like it, then you can offer another. But when it comes to how many cranberries you can feed your dog, it depends on the size and digestion of your dog. Some dogs have iron stomachs and rarely experience digestive issues, while others can look at a new food and have an upset stomach.
You know your dog best. It’s better to offer one or two cranberries as dog treats and watch for any side effects.
Additionally, keep in mind that dried fruit shrinks during the drying process, which concentrates the fruit’s natural sugars. That makes dried cranberries sweeter than fresh cranberries. So, if you’re feeding your pup dried cranberries, remember they may be small, but they have a high sugar content, so a few go a long way. You don’t want to contribute extra calories to your dog’s weight gain.
What Are The Side Effects of Too Much Cranberry?
For most dogs, the side effects of eating too many cranberries are your typical tummy troubles. An upset stomach, vomiting, or a little diarrhea. Usually, your dog will rest his tummy by fasting.
If you fed your dog cranberries or cranberry juice, and now he seems to be feeling low, double-check that you didn’t accidentally feed your dog raisins or grape juice mixed with the cranberry juice. If so, keep an eye on your dog and contact your veterinarian.
To wrap up, yes, dogs can have unsweetened cranberries in moderation. Cranberries have many health benefits, including inflammation reduction and boosting gut health. If you want to include a few dried cranberries in your pup’s dog food or offer them as dog treats, most dogs can digest them just fine. If you want a veterinarian-approved dog food with cranberries, you can check out the options here.