Cranberries are a tart treat that are delicious on their own or as a part of dishes like stuffing and deserts. These fruits reach their peak in autumn and are a common Thanksgiving food, but you can probably find them in your grocery store all year long.
Cranberries are sometimes called a superfood for humans, thanks to their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Humans can feel good about eating fresh cranberries, dried cranberries, or even the occasional glass of cranberry juice.
Have you ever asked yourself, "Can dogs eat cranberries?" The answer is technically yes — fresh cranberries aren't toxic to our canine friends. In fact, they offer plenty of health benefits, just like they do for humans.
With that being said, you don't want to toss your dog a handful of cranberries without a second thought. For one, dogs should only eat fresh cranberries (more on this soon). There are a few other considerations to make before feeding Fido this tasty fruit.
Let's take a look at the health benefits of cranberries for dogs, the risks, and how to safely give your dog this treat.
What Are the Health Benefits of Cranberries for Dogs?
Cranberries are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat. They're packed with nutrients, and they're just as good for your pooch as they are for you. In this way, adding small amounts of cranberry to your dog's diet can be a good way to boost their health and nutrition.
The beneficial components of cranberries include:
- Vitamins C, A, E, and K: These essential vitamins are important for all sorts of bodily functions. Vitamin C is good for the immune system. Vitamin A is good for your dog's skin and fur. Vitamin E helps the circulatory system function. And, Vitamin K helps promote blood clotting and strengthens your dog's teeth and bones.
- Potassium: Bananas aren't the only fruit with high levels of potassium. Cranberries provide this essential nutrient, which plays a key role in brain, heart, muscle, and nerve function.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants help to reduce inflammation around your dog's body, and they boost Fido's immune system.
- Proanthocyanidins: Proanthocyanidins are naturally occurring chemical compounds that give fruits their red, purple, or blue color. They also help prevent the buildup of bacteria on the bladder wall, which can help prevent urinary tract infections.
- Fiber: Dietary fiber is important for healthy digestion. It also helps your dog to feel fuller for longer. That's why weight-loss dog foods are often high in fiber.
Additionally, cranberries are low in calories, so you don't have to worry about your dog gaining weight while eating the fruit.
Can dogs eat cranberries? Yes, and pet parents can feel good knowing that they can provide some essential nutrients. Still, it's important to feed cranberries with caution — they do present some risks.
What Are the Risks of Cranberries for Dogs?
There's no question that cranberries are nutritious. In fact, they're often considered a superfood along with other fruits like blueberries. And while cranberries can give your dog a boost of nutrition, they also present a few health hazards.
Too much of any food your dog isn't used to can upset his or her stomach. Veterinarians recommend that treats make up no more than 10% or so of your dog's diet, and that includes human foods like cranberries.
Can dogs eat cranberries without feeling ill? Yes, but too much will likely make them feel sick. Keep the portion size very small when feeding your pooch this fruit.
One way to keep your dog's gut health in check and prevent an upset stomach before it happens is with probiotics. Our all-natural Probiotic for Dogs is a great way to support a thriving digestive environment.
Cranberries are small, so one by itself doesn't present a serious choking risk for your dog. But a whole handful of cranberries at once could. Stick to one cranberry at a time.
Can Dogs Eat Cranberries in All Forms?
Can dogs eat cranberries that come in other forms, like dried cranberries or cranberry sauce? The answer is no — you should only feed your dog fresh cranberries. Other versions simply present too many dangers.
Dried cranberries are loaded with sugar, which is added during the dehydration process. Cranberry juice has the same problem — a lot of added sugar. Plus, cranberry juice is often mixed with grape juice, and grapes are highly toxic to dogs.
The cranberry sauce you add to your Thanksgiving dinner table is also risky. It may contain sugar or alternative sweeteners like xylitol, which is a known and dangerous pet toxin.
Take note that foods that contain cranberries, such as trail mix or desserts, aren't a good idea for your dog, either. Trail mix probably contains raisins, salty nuts, and other foods that can harm your pet. A pie or fruit cake contains sugars, additives, sweeteners, and other dangerous components.
Cranberry extract may occasionally be prescribed for a dog with chronic UTI issues. But otherwise, it's not wise to give your dog cranberry extract. It's just not worth the risk to your dog's health without express permission from your veterinarian.
How Can You Feed Your Dog Cranberries Safely?
Remember, only feed your dog fresh, raw cranberries. Dried cranberries, cranberry sauce, cranberry juice, and foods containing cranberries present far too many health hazards for dogs.
So, how can dogs eat cranberries in a safe manner? There are two rules to remember: First, only feed your dog one cranberry at a time to minimize their choking risk. Second, don't go overboard on the portion size, as it can result in an upset stomach. A handful of cranberries — fed one at a time — is more than enough.
Because cranberries are so tart, your dog might turn their nose up at the fruit. For many dog owners, a cranberry supplement is an easier way to introduce this superfood to their dog's diet.
So, Can Dogs Eat Cranberries?
Still asking yourself, "Can dogs eat cranberries?" The answer is yes, they can. In fact, this fruit offers plenty of healthy nutrients and can serve as a good occasional addition to your pet's diet. The vitamins and minerals found in cranberries benefit your dog's entire body and can even help with things like bladder health and digestion.
Cranberries come with a few risks, though. Too many at once can cause choking, and large amounts of cranberries will probably make your dog sick. And it's essential that you stick to fresh cranberries. Dried cranberries, cranberry sauce, cranberry juice, and foods containing cranberries aren't healthy for dogs.
Give your dog one cranberry at a time and keep the portion size small, or consider a cranberry supplement to make things easier. It's the safest way to give your dog this tart but tasty treat.
For more articles on your dog's health, nutrition, and wellness, visit the Native Pet blog.