Can Dogs Eat Cranberries?

When you think of cranberries, you might think of the gelatinous mass of magenta that’s been served at your Thanksgiving dinners since you could remember. Luckily, there are far better ways to eat cranberries, so you can set that memory aside and focus on fresh and dried cranberries now that you’re a grown-up. This tart little berry is filled with plenty of nutritious goodness, but before you start sharing with your dog, it’s important to know whether they’re good for dogs or not.

Are Cranberries Bad for Dogs?

Cranberries aren’t poisonous to dogs, but the bitter taste might be off-putting, and whole berries are difficult for dogs to digest properly. You don’t meet many people who eat cranberries whole because of the taste, and they’re usually cooked with lots of sugar added if they aren’t in dried form. Dried cranberries are similar to raisins in texture and taste, and the sweet taste is from copious amounts of sugar. Because of how much sugar is added to the dried ones, don’t make it a habit of giving them to your dog. One or two dropped on the floor certainly isn’t going to hurt anything, but they aren’t ideal long-term.

What About Cranberry Juice?

There are two old wives’ tales floating around about cranberry juice. The first is it helps eliminate urinary tract infections, and the second is if you give cranberry juice to a female dog, it decreases the acidity of their urine and reduces urine scalding on your lawn.

Whether cranberry juice eliminates a UTI in a human or not is moot because there’s no proof it’s effective for dogs. A UTI is painful in dogs, and if it’s left untreated, your dog is susceptible to excruciating and dangerous kidney infections. Dogs showing signs of a UTI (frequent urination, straining to urinate, only releasing very small amounts of urine, constantly licking their genitals) should be diagnosed by a vet and given antibiotics ASAP to prevent it from worsening.

In regards to cranberry juice lessening the acidity of a female dog’s urine, it isn’t true. Juice can’t reduce the acidity of urine, and it’s the ammonia in urine that kills grass. Ensuring your dog drinks plenty of water to prevent highly concentrated urine is the best way to protect your grass.

Finally, most cranberry juices are packed with sugar to reduce the cranberries’ natural bitterness. Dogs need almost no sugar in their diet to be nutritionally sound and giving them sugar regularly (such as “treating” their urine) is going to lead to obesity and even diabetes.

Cranberries should be a human-only treat regardless of their form. Fresh cranberries are bitter and hard to digest, dried cranberries are loaded with sugar, and cranberry juice is downright unnecessary for dogs. Blueberries are a much better snack choice than these bitter little berries.