Cranberries are a Thanksgiving staple and a favorite healthy human snack—but can dogs enjoy these tart little berries, too? The answer might surprise you.

By Chad Taylor
November 13, 2020
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Credit: Anna Kucherova / Robbie Goodall / Getty / Yeji Kim

Whether you enjoy them dried in your trail mix or only indulge during Thanksgiving dinner alongside other holiday food favorites, cranberries are a delicious, antioxidant-packed fruit with many health benefits. If you're wondering if your dog can share your cranberry snack (or even take a lick of that cranberry sauce post-Turkey Day dinner)—the berries are probably safe for your dog to eat. But before you offer your pup a tart treat to try, it's important you follow some simple guidelines.

Do Dogs Even Like Cranberries?

First off, some dogs just aren’t going to be fans of the tart flavor that cranberries pack. Some dogs don’t eat fruits or vegetables, regardless of type, and others just aren’t fans of the taste specific to cranberries. So while cranberries can be a nice snack for dogs to eat in moderation, your mileage may vary depending on Fido’s particular palette.

Are Raw Cranberries OK?

It's safe for your pooch to eat cranberries in their natural form, but there's a catch. Raw cranberries are a safe treat for dogs...in moderation. While they're one of the safer of all the various ways cranberries can be prepared, raw cranberries may require a bit of supervision on your part.

“Cranberries can be tricky,” said Denver-based veterinarian Kaci Angelone, DVM, MS. “If they aren’t cooked down, they can be a choking hazard, especially for cats or smaller dogs.”

Because you can eyeball a raw cranberry, identify exactly what it is, and therefore tell how much you’re giving your pet, it should be OK to share if your dog likes them and can handle eating something of that size without trouble. If you have a small dog or a senior dog with teeth issues, maybe skip this treat.

Can Dogs Eat Dried Cranberries?

This is a fairly decent option, with a couple of caveats. First off, some packages of dried cranberries come mixed with dried raisins. Grapes and their wrinkly offspring are both no-gos for doggos, which means that you probably shouldn’t just upend the dried cranberry pouch and give them whatever falls out. It’s also best to check the label and see how much sugar has been added, because that could cause problems as well.

“Also, canned or dried cranberries will sometimes be processed to be lower in natural sugars or lower calorie,” Angelone explains. “If a packaged cranberry was made with any kind of sugar substitute that includes xylitol, that can be very toxic for dogs.”

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Cranberries?

Largely yes! Though, once again, be wary of dishes that you haven’t prepared yourself, as the cranberries could have been mixed with raisins, high amounts of added sugar, alcohol, or other ingredients that can cause your dogs problems. But if you’re cooking a small dish of cranberries yourself, there’s nothing to prevent your dog from enjoying them.

Can Dogs Eat Cranberry Sauce?

The same caveats apply to feeding your dog a taste of cranberry sauce off your Thanksgiving table. Be sure to check the label for anything other than cranberries. Make sure the sauce in question doesn’t have too much sugar, or is made with sugar substitutes that can be toxic. Most of the time, this is probably a treat to skip. If you do choose to give this to your dog, keep the amount relatively low, as moderation is the key for any good human snack.

If your dog swipes some cranberry sauce off the floor or counter during a holiday meal and you're unsure of its ingredients or you know it contains something toxic, it's best to give your vet a call or reach out via the ASPCA Animal Poison Control number (888) 426-4435 if your pup may have ingested xylitol or another potentially poisonous substance.

Will Cranberries Help My Dog’s UTI?

For humans, cranberry juice has been shown to have some benefits in helping to fight and prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Some studies suggest that they can have similar effects for dogs, but rather than giving your doggo cranberry juice, which can be loaded with additional sugars and toxic ingredients, Angelone suggests consulting your vet first.

“There are some over the counter supplements and a couple of vet-prescribed pills where cranberry extract is included,” she said. But more research is needed to really prove their effectiveness, however.