Can Dogs Eat Cranberries?

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Introduction

Cranberries are a tart, slightly sweet, and delicious berry. Cranberries generally take their place on the table around the holidays in sauces and baked goods. However, they also have a multitude of health benefits and can help and treat a wide variety of illnesses and ailments in humans.

You may be wondering if dogs can eat cranberries and reap the health benefits of these tart and juicy berries. The good news is - yes, dogs can enjoy these berries in smaller quantities! 

Let's explore all of the health benefits of cranberries, what they can do for your pup, and how to incorporate them into their diet.

Signs of a Dog Liking Cranberries

Although cranberries can have some great health benefits for your dog, the main question is whether or not your dog will eat and enjoy these very tart berries. Most dogs don't like to eat tart and tangy fruits and other foods, so it will either be a hit or miss whether they will enjoy the fruit on its own. 

If you really want your dog to include cranberries in their diet, the best way to do this may be by baking cranberries into healthy, organic homemade dog treats. This will help camouflage the flavor of the cranberries and limit the tartness of the fruit. 

However, some dog may really enjoy eating cranberries on their own! If your dog does enjoy munching on these tangy red berries, they will quickly let you know. They will generally eat them without any hesitation, wag their tails in excitement, pace around the kitchen waiting for more, be alert like they are waiting for more berry treats, raise their ears, or even bark at your for another bite!

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice when you dog likes cranberries:
  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Wag tail
  • Pacing
  • Raise ears
  • Lips pushed forward

Other Signs

These are other signs you may notice if your dog likes cranberries:
  • Spinning in Circles
  • Jumping Up for More
  • Staring Eagerly at You
  • Begging for More

History of Cranberries and Dogs

In the United States, cranberries have been grown and eaten as early as the 1550s. Berries were baked into loaves of bread, mixed into cornmeal, and eaten along with meats. Early settlers also found that cranberries had some amazing health benefits as time progressed. 

By the 1620s, pilgrims learned the best ways to use this superfruit from the Native Americans. American whalers, fishermen, and mariners would use cranberries to help prevent certain illness and infections such as scurvy. Native Americans used cranberries to brew poultices to draw out deadly poison from arrow wounds. They would also use cranberries to make a delicious and tart tea to help calm nerves and stress. 

Although there is no recorded history of how dogs may have benefited from cranberries in the far past, we can assume cranberries may have been fed to dogs as part of their diet once they were domesticated. Since berries were used to prevent illness and infection in humans, they may have been given to dogs for the same purpose as well. 

Science Behind Dogs Benefitting from Cranberries

Cranberries provide a host of benefits for our furry friends when they are given in small quantities. Too many cranberries can cause your pooch to get an upset stomach from the acid in the fruit, so make sure you are limiting their intake every day. Cranberries contain anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. These properties can help stop and prevent the growth of harmful E.coli, H. pylori, and other GI pathogens that can make your dog very sick. 

Surprisingly, cranberries are also very good for your dog's teeth and help keep them pearly-white and healthy. Cranberries contain certain proteins that prevent too much acid production to help the teeth and mouth fight against the buildup of harmful bacteria. This will help to keep your pup's breath fresh and much less stinky. 

Cranberries also contain a high concentration of polyphenols, which is a powerful antioxidant. Many recent studies have found that cranberries can interact with cellular signaling cascades. This can help to regulate transcription factors in the body and affects the microRNAs (miRNA) within the body. MiRNA is able to control the physical and pathological processes that can take place in the body (i.e. the development of certain cancers). Cranberries have been shown to help prevent and stop the development and progression of cancer, so including some of these powerhouse berries in your dog's diet is a potentially great way to inhibit the formation of some cancers. 

Lastly, the common use of cranberries in human and animal diets is for their ability to prevent urinary tract infections. The cranberry will act as a natural cleanser within the body and flush out any harmful bacteria lurking in the urinary tract. Although cranberries, cranberry juice, and supplements are not recommended for actually treating a UTI, they can be a great tool for prevention if your dog is prone to such infections. 

Training Dogs to Eat Cranberries

You cannot force your dog to like a certain food (like cranberries, especially, because this little fruit can be so tart and abrasive to the taste buds). However, there are ways you can disguise tart cranberries to taste much more enjoyable so your dog will actually eat them! 

The best way to incorporate cranberries into your dog's diet is to bake them into a healthy and delicious treat or snack. To do this, all you need is a few simple and wholesome ingredients to whip up a superfood treat.

You will need: 

  • 3 cups oat flour 
  • 1 cup of whole fresh cranberries 
  • 1 can (16 oz) of unsweetened pumpkin puree 
  • 1 1/2 cups of stock (veggie, chicken, beef, bone, etc.) 

Directions: 

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix. If it is too dry, add more stock. If it is too wet you can also add some more oat flour. 
  2. Use a tablespoon to scoop out the mixture into balls and place on a sprayed baking sheet. Flatten the mixture with your fingers into a round cookie shape. Alternatively, you can also make these into mini treats and use about one heaping teaspoon of the mixture to form treats. 
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you make the mini-sized treats, check for doneness after 30 minutes.  

Safety Tips for Feeding Dogs Cranberries

  • Avoid giving sweetened and dried cranberries.
  • Make sure your dog is not allergic.
  • Don't give them too many berries per day (as this can cause an upset stomach).

We Want to Hear Your Story About Your Dog Eating Cranberries!

Stella
4 Years
Labrador
Definitely Can Eat Cranberries!
Signs
Wag tail
happy
comes back for more

Stella is a lucky dog, she lives on cranberry bogs. Her family are cranberry growers! Stella eats them off of the ground on her own as well as likes to catch them in her mouth for a snack.

3 months ago
Stella
4 Years
Labrador
Definitely Can Eat Cranberries!
Signs
Wag tail
happy
comes back for more

Stella is a lucky dog, she lives on cranberry bogs. Her family are cranberry growers! Stella eats them off of the ground on her own as well as likes to catch them in her mouth for a snack.

3 months ago