Some of us can get quite experimental when it comes to feeding our dogs, and sometimes a question emerges that would seem to baffle the rational mind, something like, “Can dogs eat cranberries?” or “Can dogs eat dried cranberries?”Without further ado, let’s dig into the "meat" of the matter.
There is a widespread belief that cranberries are great nutrients, rich with antioxidants, vitamin C, and fibers. They can prevent cardiovascular diseases, improve bowel conditions, and fight bacteria. Is it true?
Well, partially, even for humans. For dogs, it is a bit more complicated.
We made sure that you have the answers to these questions so you can make educated choices even when it comes to canine nutrition, which is rather poorly understood by some pet owners.
Last Updated: May 27th 2023
Can Dogs Eat Cranberries: The Quick Answer
Yes or No?
In a hurry?
The quick answer is: yes, dogs can eat cranberries in moderate amounts.
But do I recommend it? Not really.
Albeit safe for your dog, raw cranberries should not be a regular part of his diet.
Moreover, it’s not a good idea to feed your dog dried cranberries, either.
They’re just too high in sugar and devoid of any relevant nutrients to feed to your dog, even if you do find them delicious, and even if they contain beneficial nutrients for humans.
They can also cause diarrhea and upset stomachs in some dogs, which isn’t likely to make either of you very happy at the end of the day.
So, keep the cranberries for yourself, and give your doggo something else (perhaps consider this article if you’re home feeding).
Can Dogs Eat Cranberries: The Explanation
But really… can they?
Benefits & Nutrition
Cranberries (as opposed to dried cranberries) are not devoid of all the beneficial nutrients and contain natural sugar (0.7g of fructose, and 3.3g of glucose), which is not that bad.
Raw cranberries are a good source of vitamins and antioxidants. Besides managing UTIs, cranberries play a role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improving the immune system, etc.
It may indeed work for humans, who often get it as a side-therapy. But our pets do not react to it the same way we do, let alone to dried cranberries; don’t forget that!
Cranberries Aren’t the Best Choice for Your Dog
As I noted, it’s not the end of the world if you give raw cranberries to your dog (when fed in moderation). Although they aren’t beneficial as they are for some human health issues, they are highly nutritious and are a natural source of fibers and vitamins.
Because of the low amount of sugar, though, dogs can find cranberries bitter or sour.
Therefore, it might not be delicious to them as it is to you, and it’s better not to push it.
So, even though cranberries are, in theory, safe for dogs, I’d recommend some other fruits and veggies.
That list of foods can even be more specific if your doggo has a sensitive stomach.
Even if you do give cranberries to your dog, make sure that they do not overindulge in eating. Just like with anything, exaggeration can be dangerous!
What About Dried Cranberries?
To understand why dried cranberries are not the best choice for your dog’s snack, either, let’s find out a bit more about them.
Why Are Dried Cranberries Good for Humans?
Many people think that dried cranberries are just the right thing to treat a urinary tract infection in dogs since it seems to work pretty well in humans.
Cranberry juice and tea, in particular, has a reputation as an effective home remedy.
This is because it’s thought to make the urine more acidic, which will clear out the urinary tract from harmful bacteria that causes inflammation. That isn’t strictly true, but the idea of cranberry juice as a home remedy remains in many people’s minds as a great solution.
What About Dogs?
The first thing to remember is that your dog, while omnivorous, has a much different set of dietary requirements than you.
This includes the need for a much higher proportion of protein and a lower amount of carbohydrates.
Thus, dried cranberries don’t contain pretty much anything a dog needs, and the drying process tends just to concentrate the sugar and removes some of the minerals and vitamins, which would have perhaps been useful.
In addition, cranberry juice will almost invariably have sugar added in order to make the taste more palatable due to the bitter taste which occurs in unsweetened juice. And sugar can do more harm to your little friend than to you!
A Brief Word About Canine UTIs
Here’s some info to further understand why cranberries are not a great choice when it comes to dogs’ UTIs.
We know that not all dog owners are bursting with money for a veterinarian trip, but in most cases, it is best to simply go to the vet when an infection occurs.
At home, remedies can be great, but it’s best not to gamble your dog’s health with at-home remedies because your dog’s well-being is the most important.
A standard prescription is going to be more effective - it’s just a simple fact.
Cranberries (especially dried) have been shown to not be very effective in humans.
How so, you may ask?
Well, as noted, the mechanism of action has less to do with the common thought of acidic urine, but instead has to do with antioxidants binding to the bacteria and preventing them from “gripping.”
It turns out that cranberries and dried cranberries are just not all that effective in humans, so they certainly won’t be for your dog, either.
Seek a vet, or find an alternative remedy that does not contain added sugar.
Can Dogs Eat Cranberries as a Snack?
Give your doggo a homemade treat as a reward rather than cranberries!
Okay, so, we’ve established that cranberries (dried and raw) are not beneficial as a treatment for your dog.
But can they enjoy them as a snack?
Again, some people think that since they enjoy cranberries, it’s likely their dog will, too. After all - they’re a pretty healthy snack for humans, so it should follow that they’ll be good for dogs.
The truth is, your dog should be getting most of their nutrients from a high-quality kibble brand rather than the snacks, anyways.
Here’s a good example 🙂:
So, unless your vet raises issues about a specific nutrient imbalance, the snacks you feed your dog with should generally be high in protein, low in fat, and not contain sugars. Cranberries and dried cranberries hardly fit the bill!
The Final Verdict: Can Dogs Eat Cranberries?
Can I have cranberries, Mommy? Can I?
There’s virtually no advantage to feeding your dog cranberries, but there’s plenty of disadvantages which will show up quite quickly:
#1 Cranberries do not fit into a balanced diet.
The omnivorous nature of dogs sometimes makes them seem like they are hungry all the time and that they would eat virtually anything that is in front of them.
That’s when you need to hop in and make sure that your dog has a balanced diet. Cranberries (even more so dried cranberries) simply aren’t going to be part of it.
Investing in a high-quality food with high veterinarian recommendations is a much better way to balance your dog’s diet if that’s what you’re looking to do.
Keep in mind that many brands can claim high-protein, but that dog food is generally made from scraps, and, under analysis, indigestible material like hooves and feathers will show as protein.
#2 There can be side effects of eating cranberries.
In addition to sugar, there are short-term effects that might plague your dogs if they enjoy too many cranberries or craisins.
Watery bowel movements and an achy tummy aren’t going to be good for either of you!
Dried cranberries can be especially dangerous for diabetes in dogs.
#3 Contrary to popular opinion, cranberries aren’t helpful for UTIs.
In addition, some people may delay professional treatment under the mistaken assumption that cranberries will undoubtedly help with a urinary tract infection, which can result in complications.
There may be effective home remedies for the illness, but cranberries are definitely not going to do what you need.
Fresh cranberries do have some nutrients your dog may need (such as vitamin C), but don’t force them on your dog if they can’t palate the bitter taste. It certainly won’t achieve anything worthwhile or substitute therapy.
So, if you’ve been up late at night asking yourself, “Can dogs eat cranberries?” I hope that I’ve given you something to ease your nocturnal thoughts with.
It’s just not a good idea, and while it may not be overly harmful, there’s no real advantage to be gained either.
Now you are aware of all the reasons why you shouldn’t feed your dog cranberries or dried cranberries!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this short article. Have any thoughts on it?
Let me know in the comments below.