Cranberries certainly contain amazing health benefits for humans; you may have heard that consuming cranberries can help with urinary tract issues, but they actually do a lot more than that.
Can I Safely Give My Dog Cranberries?
North American natives have consumed wild cranberries for thousands of years, eating them fresh or dried. In fact, we believe they may have created the world’s first energy bar because they combined meat with animal fat and dried berries and produced a product known as pemmican. Even back then the health value of cranberries was understood. Cranberries were also used as traditional cures for seasickness, swelling, and fevers.
Cranberries, blueberries, bilberries, and huckleberries are all part of the Vaccinium plant family, and all these berries have numerous health benefits. It’s not only humans who can reap the health rewards cranberries have to offer; your dog can reap these same rewards. We’re certainly not suggesting your loved pet has cranberry sauce with his Christmas turkey leg, but that’s only because of all the sugar contained in the cranberry sauce. However, there are a number of ways in which your pet can safely consume cranberries.
Health Benefits of Cranberries
Many consider cranberries to be a super food, and there’s good reason for this. You may be surprised to learn that cranberries contain almost 87% water, which doesn’t seem to leave much room for healthy nutrients, but that’s definitely not the case. Cranberries contain some very important minerals and vitamins, like Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, and K1, plus Manganese, fiber, Anthocyanins, Quercetin, Pro-anthocyanidins, and D-mannose. We’ll cover these in more detail shortly.
We know humans in general love cranberries; they’re popular dried, in trail mixes, or when used in baked goods. They’re delicious and they’re a great source of antioxidants, but are they safe to feed to our pets? The short answer to this question is yes, cranberries are safe for your pet provided they’re given in moderation. Of course, this rule applies to all fruit and human treats you feed to your pet.
Cranberries and Your Dog
Cranberries are not only safe for your dog to consume, they’re also a healthy and nutritional treat. Your dog can be given raw, cooked, or dried cranberries, but make sure you avoid giving your dog the additional sugars and artificial sweeteners that sometimes go hand-in-hand with cranberries – think cranberry sauce and cranberry juice. Remember that your dog does not require sugar; in fact, too much sugar can be very dangerous for your dog by causing unnecessary weight gain.
See below for some of the important minerals and vitamins contained in cranberries:
Antioxidants: Sadly, half of all dogs die from cancer, so owners need to do everything in their power to keep their pet safe and healthy. The antioxidant powers of Cranberries can help keep cancer at bay. Research shows that cranberries may slow or even prevent tumor growth in certain cancers. Other studies show that phytochemicals in cranberries combine to deliver synergistic health benefits. In addition, it’s also believed that cranberries can assist in managing the side effects of conventional cancer treatment.
Antioxidants help in reducing painful inflammation, combatting disease, and improving the immune system. They can alleviate pain and actively prevent illness, and yes, they can do all this in your loved pet too. In addition, antioxidants are believed to reduce canine allergies and alleviate a number of skin conditions in dogs. On top of all this, antioxidants can improve cognitive function, so you can see why cranberries are a great treat for both humans and dogs.
Dietary Fiber: Fiber is an amazing help when it comes to gastrointestinal issues, specifically in regulating healthy bowel movements. Fiber can help promote GI homeostasis if your dog is suffering from constipation or diarrhea. In addition, as in humans, fiber encourages a healthy weight for your fur baby, which is so important for longevity.
Basically, fiber is an essential nutrient for both humans and dogs in maintaining a healthy body. Your dog will feel full for longer when given fiber-rich treats like cranberries, with your pet less likely to overeat and become overweight. We also know that when fiber-rich foods are added to your dog’s diet they are less prone to diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Minerals and Vitamins: All too often we see standard canine diets lacking in essential minerals and vitamins. Thanks to berries like cranberries, you now have the perfect way to add these important nutrients to your dog’s diet. Cranberries in particular contain Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, and K1, in addition to D-mannose and manganese. This powerful combination of essential nutrients delivers the following benefits for your pet –
- Cancer prevention (as mentioned above)
- Lowers cholesterol
- Boosted immunity
- Combats bad bacteria
- Treats and prevents bladder infections
- D-mannose promotes a healthy urinary tract
- Improves vision
- Protects teeth by reducing tartar and plaque build-up
- Reduces painful stomach ulcers.
Potassium: You may be surprised to learn that, like bananas, cranberries contain heaps of potassium. Potassium is actually an electrolyte and helps the body retain a healthy level of vital fluids. In addition, potassium helps with the following –
- Increases bone density
- Promotes healthy muscle growth
- Encourages normal cardiac flow and heartbeat
- Boosts metabolism and promotes the efficient absorption of nutrients
- Regulates muscle contractions and heartbeat
- Optimizes healthy cognitive and nerve functions
As you can see from the above, cranberries are a great, healthy treat for your dog, but they’re also extremely good for you!
Related: Can Dogs Have Blackberries?
Side Effects of Giving Cranberries to Your Dog
With such a wide range of health benefits for your dog, you may be wondering what the adverse effects of feeding cranberries to your dog might be. The good news is that if you give this delicious treat to your pet in moderation, they are almost free of side effects. Just to clarify, though, you should not give your dog cranberry sauce or cranberry juices, but as long as the berries are raw, dried, or cooked, there’s no reason why your pet can’t enjoy a few while you’re having some too.
Keep in mind that we’re talking about moderation when feeding cranberries to your dog because he could get an upset stomach if he has too many. Also note that cranberries have a high level of acidity, so we strongly suggest you speak to your veterinarian about how many cranberries it’s safe to feed your dog. Too much acidic food can cause the development of kidney stones, and that’s the last thing you want for your pet (or yourself). (source)
How to Feed Cranberries to Your Dog
Cranberries have an unusually sweet/sour tart taste, which will not be a familiar taste to your dog, so your dog may not even like the taste. If he sees you eating them, he may capitulate and decide he’d like some too, otherwise you can choose from a number of cranberry-infused canine products, like treats, dog food, and supplements, to give your pet the healthy nutrients he needs.