The next ingredient we’re covering in our ongoing series on Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is cranberries. They make a nice topping on our oatmeal, and a great side dish at Thanksgiving, but good for our pets? Indeed they are.
What are cranberries?
Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the subgenus Oxycoccus of the genus Vaccinium, the same family as blueberries and grouseberries. They are low shrubs or vine with red or pink flowers. The berry starts out green in color and turns red or ‘cranberry’ when it is ripe. It’s quite tart to the taste which overwhelms its natural sweetness.
Why are cranberries in pet food?
Cranberries are chock full of antioxidants and other nutrients that can help boost your pet’s immune system, improve their brain function and help retain their healthy coats. Cranberries are low in calories and high in fiber, Vitamin C and potassium. They are also rich in polyphenol antioxidants (particularly antioxidants called proanthocyanidins) which fight against the formation of cancer cells in your dog’s body.
Cranberries are known in humans to help reduce the severity and inflammation of urinary tract infections and are often prescribed as a preventative measure for humans. As of yet, there is not conclusive research to show a similar impact with pets, but if your pet does have frequent UTIs or kidney or bladder issues, a few dried, or better yet, raw, cranberries tossed in their food certainly can’t hurt them. (Note: cranberries are NOT a treatment for UTIs. If you suspect your pet has a UTI, get them to their vet for proper medication.)
Are there any risks to feeding your pet cranberries?
Any food eaten in excess can be harmful, so make sure you give these to your pet in moderation. Otherwise, they may experience some stomach upset or even diarrhea. You should also avoid cranberry products with added sugars like sweetened cranberry juice or dried/sweetened cranberries.
Be mindful that raisins are very toxic to dogs, so make sure you’re not giving them any berry treats mixed with raisins.
Interesting facts about cranberries:
Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water. They are grown on sandy bogs or marshes. Cranberries have small pockets where air seeps in, allowing them to float which is why some bogs are flooded when the fruit is ready for harvesting.
One cup of raw cranberries contains about 50 calories.
Cranberries are one of the three fruits native to America that are still commercially grown today.
Pet foods that contain cranberries:
Acana, Heritage Sport & Agility
pawTree, Real Chicken & Potato
Orijen, Fit & Trim