It is not surprising that cranberry supplements are recommended by veterinarians to augment the antibiotic treatment for dogs suffering from urinary tract infections. However, it is crucial that only cranberry supplements specifically formulated for dogs should be used. And if you have a pet that is in need of cranberry supplementation, we’ve got your back. Our list of the 5 best cranberry supplements for dogs should help you feel more confident about returning your pet’s urinary functioning to the fullest.
Best Cranberry Supplements for Dogs Buying Guide
Cranberry supplements are usually given to dogs that have urinary tract infections because cranberry contains a certain substance that helps prevent the adhesion of bacteria on the inner surface of the walls of the urinary tract. More than this, however, it provides other benefits, too. Like other pet products, not all cranberry supplements for dogs are the same. That’s why you need to know how to pick the right one.
What Makes Cranberries So Healthy?
There are many reasons why cranberries can be very healthy for both you and your pet. First of all, cranberries contain more than 2 dozen phytonutrients that give this berry its amazing antioxidant properties. It is through the presence of these phytonutrients that cranberries can also help reduce the levels of triglycerides and sugar in the blood while also reducing the accumulation of fat in the dog’s body.
These berries are also known to contain a class of polyphenol known as proanthocyanidin. This substance is believed to play a role in preventing the adhesion or attachment of bacteria, toxins, and other harmful substances on the epithelial lining of the inner wall of the urinary tract from the ureters to the bladder and the urethra. Interestingly, apples especially Granny Smith and Red Delicious varieties actually contain more proanthocyanidins than cranberries or any other food, with the exception of cocoa beans.
In addition to proanthocyanidins and anthocyanidins, cranberries also contain ellagic acid which some experts believe can cause cancer cell death. It is also low in calories at only 46 calories per cup and contains as much as 87% water so there’s no risk of developing obesity in your pet.
Cranberries are also rich in Vitamins C, E, and K as well as the minerals manganese and copper for better all-around health, better blood clotting, and improved immune system functioning. These also have an excellent ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids for better anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects.
Benefits of Cranberry Supplements for Dogs
Aside from the fact that cranberry supplements for dogs are primarily indicated in the prevention of urinary tract infections, the promotion of optimum urinary tract health, and as an adjunct to the treatment of urinary tract infections in dogs, these are not the only benefits that cranberry supplements can provide for our dogs. Because of the very nature of proanthocyanidins and the other nutrients found in cranberries, you can expect the following benefits, too.
- Help Prevent the Build-up of Plaque on Your Dog’s Teeth
Dental plaques are produced by bacteria present in the dog’s oral cavity. These microorganisms leave a very thin biofilm on the surface of the teeth to help shield them from being removed. Since cranberries have antimicrobial properties, together with an improvement in immune system functioning, there is a reduction in the number of bacteria in the dog’s mouth. While it helps, cranberry supplements are not substitutes for good toothpaste, toothbrush, and vet dental visit.
- Slow Down the Decline in Canine Cognitive Functioning
This is related to the antioxidant properties of cranberries. Dogs that are already in their senior years may already show signs of cognitive decline such as poor memory and loss of coordination or balance. While cranberries do not treat these conditions, at the very least it can lessen the impact of such symptoms.
- Prevent Macular Degeneration
The antioxidant properties of cranberries can also help in the prevention of canine eye diseases such as macular degeneration. This can help reduce the risk of blindness in your dog.
- Improve the Functioning of the Heart and Blood Vessels
The polyphenols, flavonoids, and antioxidants present in cranberries provide better functioning of the blood vessels as well as the heart. These substances help relax blood vessels leading to a reduction in blood pressure which, in turn, helps relieve pressure in the heart.
Can Cranberry Supplements Help in Treating Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs?
While it is true that cranberries can help dogs with UTI by preventing the adhesion of certain types of bacteria on the wall of the urinary tract, it should be understood that it is not a treatment for canine UTI.
In order for a substance to be considered as treatment, it should be backed by solid scientific evidence. It should also be classified as such by a regulatory body. Considering that cranberry supplements do have scientific evidence supporting their claim, the absence of the second requirement prevents it from being classified as a treatment. As we have said in our other articles, supplements are not considered as therapeutic agents or as treatments by the FDA for the simple fact that there is no rigorous testing involved in its classification. Supplements are also not subjected to very strict regulations.
That being said, if you’re thinking of cranberry supplements as treatment for canine urinary tract infections, then you’re grossly misinformed. Only antibiotics can kill the causative organism that produces the infection. Furthermore, the scientific studies showing the benefits of cranberries only point to its effectiveness in preventing the adhesion of Escherichia coli only. As such, there is a question as to how effective it will be if the UTI is caused by a different kind of bacteria.
However, cranberry supplements can be used to support the ongoing treatment of canine UTI. While antibiotics kill the microorganisms causing the UTI, cranberry supplements can help prevent the adhesion of these microorganisms so that they are more effectively killed by the antibiotics.
Possible Risks of Trying Cranberry for Your Pet’s UTI
Generally, cranberries should be safe for your pet unless it has a rather very sensitive stomach. However, cranberries contain a lot of substances that can have serious effects on certain types of dogs. Here are some of the possible substances that cranberries contain and why these can be risky for your pet.
Oxalates – Cranberries actually contain what are called oxalates. The problem with these substances is that they usually form into crystals or stones. If you have a pet that is at an increased risk for developing kidney stones, then you might want to refrain from giving your pet cranberry supplements as this will only increase the chances of forming renal stones.
Vitamin C – We all know the many health benefits of vitamin C. Unfortunately, vitamin C also increases the risk of calcium oxalate stone formation. When vitamin C is metabolized in the liver, oxalates are formed. We already mentioned above that oxalates can increase the risk of developing kidney stones in dogs. So you may be helping your dog get rid of its UTI but you are also increasing its risk for kidney stones.
Cranberry supplements can help your dog get through its urinary tract infection a lot better especially when used in conjunction with antibiotics. Its benefits are not only limited to the dog’s urinary system, however, as cranberries can also have benefits on the immune system, the cardiovascular system, the teeth, the eyes, and cognitive functioning. Do take note, however that cranberries also contain other substances that may be risky for your pet. So, before you give your pet any supplement make sure you talk with your vet first.
- Cranberries, WHFoods
- Health Foods Checklist: Cranberry for Dogs, PetMD
- Cranberry for Animals, Animal Wellness