Can Dogs Eat Cranberries?

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PetMD Editorial
Published: October 25, 2022

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NOTE: Always check with your veterinarian before giving your dog any new foods, especially “people foods.” What might be okay for one dog might not be good for your dog, depending on multiple factors, such as their age, health history, health conditions, and diet. Dogs on prescription diets should not be fed any food or treats outside the diet.

Cranberries are a staple food during the holidays, and a healthy snack for humans. But are cranberries safe for dogs to eat? As with any other human food, the answer is a bit complicated. 

When fed properly, cranberries can be a very healthy snack for dogs. But there are proper ways to feed them to your dog, and things you’ll want to avoid. Here’s all the info you need on potential dangers and benefits, along with the safest way to feed cranberries to your dog. 

Are Cranberries Bad for Dogs?

Cranberries are not toxic or poisonous to dogs. You can feed cranberries to your pup fresh or dried, but they do need to be given in small portions, in moderation, stem-free, and completely plain.

Just be careful because cranberries look similar to raisins—and are sometimes mixed with other dried fruits like raisins—but dogs cannot eat raisins or grapes because they are both toxic to them. 

Health Benefits of Cranberries for Dogs

Cranberries are quite a healthy treat for dogs. In fact, they are often found in dog food recipes because they are considered a superfood. 

Cranberries contain a chemical compound that can help prevent urinary tract infections, although your dog will probably not be eating enough of them to see this benefit.

They are also high in fiber and antioxidants that help prevent disease and boost the immune system. The tiny seeds inside of fresh cranberries are also safe, edible, and nutritious. 

Here are some of the vitamins and minerals that make them a superfood treat:

  • Vitamin C

  • Manganese

  • Vitamin E

  • Vitamin K

  • Vitamin B1 

  • Vitamin B2

  • Copper

Can Dogs Eat Dried Cranberries?

Yes, dried cranberries are safe and healthy for dogs. They are easy on-the-go snacks, but there are a few things to watch out for. 

  • Give them to your dog in small portions in moderation. Because dried cranberries are smaller, it’s easy to give too many to your pup, which can upset your dog’s stomach

  • Even if there aren’t added sugars, the sugar content per ounce you give your pup is higher because the cranberries shrink during the drying process. And now they are a more condensed version of fresh cranberries.

  • Only feed your pup dried cranberries alone, not in a trail mix. There could be ingredients like raisins or chocolate in the trail mix that are toxic to dogs. And certain nuts can be harmful to dogs or become a choking hazard and potentially cause an intestinal blockage

Can Dogs Have Cranberry Juice?

If the cranberry juice is 100% juice with no sugar added, then a little bit is okay for your dog. Too much will likely upset their stomach. 

Do not give your pup a cranberry juice mix or cranberry juice cocktail. Those will most certainly have lots of sugar, which isn’t good for your dog. They may also contain ingredients that are not safe for your pup. 

Can Dogs Eat Cranberry Sauce?

Cranberry sauce isn’t toxic for dogs, but it isn’t the healthiest thing for them, either. Cranberry sauce contains quite a bit of sugar. This would be very bad for dogs with diabetes or other sugar-sensitive diseases.

Otherwise, if a healthy dog ate a little bit, they’ll probably be fine. But too much sugar could give your dog an upset stomach and potentially cause diarrhea or vomiting.  

Can Dogs Have Cranberry Supplements?

Yes. There are actually many dog supplements that contain cranberries to help support dog urinary health. Talk with your vet about which brand they recommend and if they think this is a good idea for your dog, as well as the proper dosage. 

Can I Give My Dog Human Cranberry Supplements?

No. Dogs should not be given supplements made for humans. Dogs have a different body makeup than we do, and there are different vitamins and ingredients—as well as portion sizes—that are safe for them versus what is safe for a human. 

How Much Cranberry Can Dogs Have?

Any treat for a dog—even the healthy ones—should only make up 10% of their daily diet, while the other 90% should come from a well-balanced dog food diet.

Here are some general guidelines on safe amounts of cranberries to feed your dog, based on their size and breed. 

Even though fresh cranberries are small, it’s best to cut them into halves or quarters when feeding them to small-breed dogs. 

If you are feeding dried cranberries to your dog, the same portions apply because your dog is still taking in the same number of cranberries—just in a condensed version. 
 

  • Small dog (21-30 lbs.) = 2-3 cranberries (Examples: Basenjis, Beagles, Miniature Australian Shepherds)

If your dog eats too many cranberries, the acidity will likely give them an upset stomach. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms: 

How to Safely Feed Your Dog Cranberries

Here are a few tips on the best ways to feed cranberries to your dog:

Fresh cranberries 

You can feed your dog a few fresh, plain, washed cranberries as a special treat, or cut them up and mix them into your dog’s food like a food topper. 

Dried cranberries

One of the easiest ways to feed dogs cranberries is by using dried cranberries. Make sure there are no added sugars or other ingredients—or make them at home with your own dehydrator. Feed them to your pup like a regular treat or mix some into their bowl like a food topper. 

Fruit smoothie or popsicle

Blend some fresh cranberries and other dog-safe fruits like bananas, strawberries, or blueberries. You can even mix in a little plain, sugar-free, xylitol-free yogurt. 

Then use a a couple spoonfuls of this mixture as a food topper, freeze a little in a popsicle tray, or put it in your dog’s KONG toy to freeze for later. 

Featured image: iStock.com/fotyma

References

1. VCA Animal Hospitals.  “Designer Diets: What's in My Dog’s Food?” https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/designer-diets-whats-in-my-dogs-food


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