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Pet parents take cranberry supplements to support urinary tract and kidney health, a healthy immune system, and good blood pressure. But what about cranberry supplements for your dog? You’ll sometimes see cranberries listed as an ingredient in their regular food or treats. Can dogs benefit from a supplement on top of their usual diet? Read on to learn about cranberry supplements for dogs—as always, be sure to check with your veterinarian before introducing any new supplements to your dog’s diet.
- Your dog needs vitamins and organic compounds for balanced nutrition and normal growth. Cranberries contain high levels of proanthocyanidins (PACs), which are chemical compounds that may help prevent urinary tract infections (they’re also what make fruit or flowers red, blue, or purple). Cranberries also contain high levels of antioxidants, which can help with boosting your dog’s immunity and reducing inflammation. Dogs (like other animals and people) can produce some antioxidants naturally in the body but need to consume other important antioxidants through diet, which can include cranberries.
According to Dr. Gary Richter, award-winning vet and member of Rover’s Dog People Panel, “All dogs are of the species Canis familiaris and as such have very similar nutritional needs.” Commercial dog food is specifically formulated to meet those needs. If your dog’s food is labeled “complete and balanced,” it contains all the nutrition your dog requires.
So, generally speaking, a well-balanced diet that includes a good-quality dog food is going to cover your dog’s antioxidant needs. But there are some exceptions, which we’ll explore next.
Dogs with specific health and wellness concerns may benefit from cranberry supplements. Dogs susceptible to urinary tract problems, particularly senior female dogs, may benefit from the addition of the nutrients found in cranberries. Issues can include urinary tract infections, bladder inflammation, stones and crystals in the urethra, and more. Some symptoms to look out for include fever, issues with bladder control, blood in the urine, weight loss, and an inability to pass urine. It’s important to address these symptoms right away—they’re painful to your dog and, left untreated, may become fatal.
Another consideration is whether your dog consumes a homemade, whole food diet (which Richter highly recommends). If so, you may not have access to the specific vitamins and antioxidants your pet needs. That’s where supplements for dogs, such as cranberry, can also come in handy.
“It is a good idea to consult with a veterinarian regarding any questions about nutrition,” Richter notes. This is especially important when feeding your dog a homemade diet. Your vet may even refer you to a veterinary nutritionist to determine the best course of vitamins for your dog.
- As noted, you should always talk to your veterinarian about what, if any, supplements your pet needs. In general, be aware that ingredients in some herbal supplements can interact with medication. Cranberries contain oxalates and vitamin C, which can be helpful in combating urinary tract issues, but in high doses can further cause crystals or stones. Also beware of the ingredient xylitol—in people, it’s touted as a possible easement of urinary tract infections (it’s also found in everyday items, such as toothpaste and gum); for your dog, it’s poisonous.
Richter has some general guidelines on choosing supplements for dogs:
- Look for brands that have commissioned clinical studies of their products.
- Read labels carefully to ensure quality and safety.
- Look for a lot number on the product. This is a sign that the company uses quality control checks.
- Choose brands with confirmed expertise.
- Be wary of claims that sound too good to be true. Vitamin supplements are just that—supplements. They are not cure-alls or medications.
- Do not give human supplements to dogs, as they may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs.
- In general, the best options will be available through your veterinarian.
The bottom line about cranberry supplements for dogs: Talk to your vet first before introducing any nutritional supplement into your pet’s diet.
To address a health condition, see your veterinarian for prescription supplements that can help. The over-the-counter cranberry supplements for dogs we’ve listed here are primarily for prevention and maintenance.
Made with liver flavor (yum?) these cranberry extract supplement tablets contain those very important proanthocyanidins (PACs) we talked about above, which help keep bacteria from attaching to the walls of your dog’s urinary system.
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Made in the USA, these chicken liver-flavored bites are free of artificial flavors and preservatives (that’s real chicken liver on the ingredients list). In addition to cranberry, these dog supplement treats include organic herbs with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects to aid in keeping the urinary system infection-free.
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These soft chew supplements are wheat-free and made with cranberry to help maintain normal pH in your dog’s urine. It also contains echinacea to support the immune system—plus it’s made in the USA.
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Free of chemical preservatives, this cranberry supplement mix adds the power of blueberries, also a strong source of proanthocyanidins and antioxidants, to help balance pH, fight bacteria adhesion, and dissolve struvite crystals. Mix this powder formula into your dog’s regular food.
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Chicken-flavored, these cranberry supplement snacks are also made with marshmallow root, which works together with cranberry to fight infections and get your dog’s urinary tract clean as a whistle. Made without all the stuff you don’t want, like preservatives, soy, wheat, corn and GMOs.
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As always, check with your veterinarian before introducing any new supplements to your dog’s diet. Read below for more on balancing your pet’s nutrition.
Featured image by Irita Antonevica/Pexels