Health & Wellness
Maybe your dog has been eyeing your leftover cranberry salad, or maybe you’re thinking about sharing dried cranberries with your pet. Plain cranberries aren’t toxic for your furry friend, which means you can, in fact, share — just do so in moderation or risk some gastrointestinal side effects. And skip the salad versions, as other ingredients outside of the cranberries may be toxic to dogs.
Even though cranberries are generally safe for your pup, always consult your vet before introducing a new food item to their diet.
Given that cranberries are a natural, straight-from-Mother-Earth food that’s non-toxic to dogs, they’re certainly not bad for your dog. That said, there are some caveats when it comes to feeding your dog cranberries.
“Cranberries aren’t toxic to dogs, but should only be fed in moderation,” Dr. Chyrle Bonk, DVM, a veterinary consultant at PetKeen, says. “Eating too much can cause an upset stomach due to the sugar and fiber content. Raw cranberries may also be a choking hazard for smaller dogs, or those who don’t chew their food well.”
Those rules more-or-less fit across the board for whatever type of cranberry you’re serving your pet — dried, frozen, fresh, canned or juiced, a little might be okay, but it’s best to serve in moderation.
“If you decide to give your dogs a cranberry snack, provide them as a treat only. Give them dried, raw or cooked, but only give a couple of bites once or twice a week,” Dr. Bonk says. Cranberries can also be added to a dog’s food, but again, only in small amounts.
Cranberries aren’t toxic to dogs, but if your dog eats too many cranberries, he may end up with an upset stomach.
“Most of the time, dogs won’t want to eat enough cranberries to be a problem, but if they do [eat a lot], monitor them for vomiting, diarrhea and a decreased appetite. These signs should go away within 24-48 hours. If they don’t, or if they have a stomachache or severe symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away,” Bonk says.
You may know that cranberry juice is often prescribed to humans as a way to help treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). As such, you might wonder whether you can help treat your dog’s UTI with cranberry juice as well.
As it turns out, cranberries can help treat UTIs in pups, but offering cranberry juice to your pup may not be the best option.
“Cranberries can help treat and prevent UTIs in dogs, just like in humans,” Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, a vet at Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital, says. “Many dog bladder supplements do contain cranberry extract for this reason.”
But vet-prescribed supplements are likely the way to go, given that commercially-made cranberry juice is typically packed with added sugars that can be bad for your dog. (Never give your dog anything with the artificial sweetener xylitol in it, as this ingredient is toxic to dogs.)
“Cranberry juice usually contains added sugar. This can cause your dog to develop health issues like diabetes. Unless you’re freshly juicing cranberries yourself and not adding anything else, you should not give your dog store-bought cranberry juice,” Dr. Ochoa explains.
“Fresh cranberries are the best way to offer the fruit to your dog,” Dr. Ochoa says. “Cooking cranberries usually involves adding sugar. Your dog should not eat cranberries if there has been any sugar or butter added to them.” So, don’t share that canned cranberry sauce or your homemade cranberry tarts with your favorite pet.
And if you do decide to give your dog a taste of dried cranberry-filled trail mix, pay attention to the other ingredients.
“Dried cranberries are often combined with other dried foods, such as raisins, which are toxic to dogs, so be sure that you’re feeding cranberries only,” Dr. Bonk says.
RELATED: Can dogs eat raspberries?
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If you decide to skip the cranberries due to the added sugars found in many store-bought products, we wouldn’t blame you. Dr. Bonk suggests offering apples, bananas, blueberries or raspberries as other fruit alternatives.
“However, all fruits should be given in moderation. As a general rule, snacks and treats shouldn’t exceed more than 10% of a dog’s daily caloric intake,” Dr. Bonk says.
If you’re whipping up a homemade cranberry sauce and you have a couple bags of fresh cranberries at hand, feel free to go ahead and throw a couple to your favorite furry friend. Cranberries, when you skip the added sugars, are perfectly safe for dogs.
We’re confident cranberries aren't the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series “Can dogs eat” to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what’s fair game.
The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.