Dogs owners are always interested in new ways to get extra nutrition into their pets’ meals. That’s especially the case as society changes, with more and more of us looking to get healthy ingredients into our own diets all the more.
This is an incentive that’s seen many of us looking to highly nutritious goodies not just for us, but for our pups. With that in mind, can dogs eat cranberries?
They can – but there’s lots to keep in mind about letting them do so, as we’ll explore below.
Are cranberries good for dogs?
As any responsible dog owner who has done her or his research might tell you, there are far more complications to giving dogs things like nuts, fruit and vegetables than meets the eye.
That’s because it’s often surprising to learn that some fruits and nuts, particularly, are incredibly toxic to dogs.
If you’re feeling a sense of caution from that knowledge though, you can be at ease. Cranberries are not toxic to dogs when served up on their own, and likewise dried cranberries are tasty and safe for your pet.
However, please also keep in mind that this is provided you’ve bought and served cranberries to your dog that are packaged alone.
Mixed fruits with cranberries in often also come with the likes of grapes and raisins, both of which are very toxic – and could accidentally get mixed in with their cranberries even if you’re especially careful.
Stick with just cranberries themselves though, and you have nothing to fear.
While human beings are recommended to get their healthy five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, the same is not true of dogs.
Much to the envy of fussy eater children the world over, dogs simply don’t have to have fruit and vegetables to get their nutritional needs met.
Having said that, as long as you give sensibly small yet perfectly formed portions of cranberries to your dog every so often – dried cranberries are just as good here – there are lots of benefits to enjoy.
Some dog owners mix cranberries in with a plain yoghurt to help enhance both the flavours and the nutritional value of what’s on offer, making for a refreshing doggy dessert – especially on a hot day.
As with any new food being added to your dog’s diet, it’s best to introduce your dog to cranberries under supervision, and only one or two at a time.
Cranberries have a distinct flavour and aroma, and it’s often quite hit and miss among human beings – so you can expect the same of dogs.
Even with the potential health benefits that cranberries can offer your dog, some pooches simply won’t take to the flavour, however much you try.
If that’s the case, don’t worry – there are lots of options in getting vitamins, minerals and nutrients into your dog.
Health benefits of cranberries for dogs
The good news about giving cranberries to your dog is that your pooch stands to gain many of the same benefits that we get from eating them.
However, it’s worth noting that these health benefits relate to the fruit itself – things like cranberry saucy and cranberry juice are not recommended by nutritionists and experts for canine consumption.
The reason for that is that cranberry juice and cranberry sauce is much more manmade, having been processed and given all kinds of extra sugars and additives along the way.
Dogs do not find that their internal systems take too kindly to added sugars, and giving these to your pet will, over time, increase the risk of them suffering weight gain, and even tooth decay.
Luckily, because dogs can suffer less sugar than we human beings, they at least get more for less when it comes to the nutrients found in cranberries.
That means that your dog will benefit from the vitamins, natural juices of the berries and, of course, the fibre content too.
That fibre is especially important, especially for older dogs whose digestive system may be beginning to give up the ghost.
Fibre helps your dog to stay regular when it comes to the ins and outs of their digestive system, and also makes sure that what’s released from their rear end is of a healthy level of solidness.
It’s perhaps a messy thing to think about, but the status of their doings says a lot about your dog’s overall health!
The vitamins in cranberries are also able to help your dog stay consistently energised and alert.
These vitamins are helpful in keeping your dog’s eyes bright, their tail wagging and their fur coat gleaming and fresh – but they also add to the immune system of your pet too.
A scattering of cranberries among a sick dog’s dinner can help them fight back against any illness or uneasy feelings, while getting plenty of vitamins into your dog’s diet in the first place can make them more resilient to falling ill in the first place.
However, always keep in mind that dogs have digestive systems far less adapted to processing fruit, vegetables and plant material overall than their human masters.
As such, you really only need to give very little in terms of cranberry portions to your dog, less frequently than human beings would need them, to see these kinds of positive lifestyle changes.
How many cranberries can a dog eat daily?
The key to helping your dog make the most of cranberries, or any other fruit treats, is moderation.
What might seem like quite a negligible handful of cranberries is able to do your dog the power of good – even the largest and most hungry of canine breeds would need no more than a small handful, or a quarter of a cup, of cranberries per day.
There isn’t really any reason why you ought to pressure yourself to give your dog cranberries daily either – your pet can enjoy just as many benefits from even less frequently dished up cranberry portions.
Work with your dog to find out just how well he or she reacts to fresh cranberries or dried cranberries.
If the amount you’re scattering in their dish or holding out for them to nibble at seems to be getting left halfway through, reduce the portion – and if you’re giving maybe five cranberries at a time and seeing your dog gratefully lap them up before looking at you expectantly, maybe add a few more to the pile.
As your dog ages and their dietary needs change, remain flexible – cranberries are a good choice for this, because it’s so easy to increase and reduce the amount you give your dog according to their needs.
Some dog owners like to add a few extra cranberries to a dog’s dinner before winter comes to protect against colds, for instance, or some dog owners might find that as their dog gets older, they want less of these kinds of things to eat.
What to do if your dog eats cranberries
No matter how responsible and intelligent a dog owner is, dogs nonetheless have ever so clever ways of finding their way to the treats they want.
As such, you might find from time to time that you discover your dog eating cranberries and feel worried that they’re going to give themselves a stomach ache.
While this is an issue in and of itself, your first course of action is to make sure that it’s only cranberries or dried cranberries that your dog is eating.
If your dog is eating from a bag of mixed fruits, the potential for risk is much higher, because your dog might have accidentally eaten some grapes or raisins as part of that.
If you suspect this is the case, seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible.
If your dog is just eating cranberries though, this is more a case of amending their behaviour than tending to their health.
You might find that overdoing it in eating cranberries causes your dog to become constipated – or could well have the opposite effect, making them loose during toilet time.
In very bad cases of stomach upset, your dog might also vomit – puppies do this a lot, especially with foods that have striking flavours like cranberries do.
Stick by your dog and have some fresh water ready for them to soothe the aches of an upset tummy.
Fresh cranberries and dried cranberries, served alone, are full of goodies that your dog can enjoy, but they are also among the pickier of treats to give your pet.
Many dog owners opt for other ways of getting vitamins and minerals into their dog’s diet, although cranberries are not toxic to your pooch either.
However, avoid giving your dog cranberry juice or cranberry sauce, in which the added sugars and other nasty additives can give lots of long term detrimental health issues to your dog.