Can Cranberries Cure Canine Troubles?

Is autumn's most popular berry good for your dog? The answer may be "YES." But before you add cranberries to his food bowl this Thanksgiving, you should know a few things about this berry's canine health benefits and limitations.

For centuries, people have used cranberry fruits and leaves as a natural remedy for a variety of health problems, including urinary disorders, diabetes, stomach ailments, and liver disease. It now appears that this potent berry might even be useful in treating some ailments in dogs as well.

Canine urinary problems and cranberries

Urinary tract and bladder infections (UTIs) are fairly common in dogs, particularly spayed females. These infections occur when bacteria enter the urethra and bladder. If your dog is urinating frequently and with pain, or his urine is cloudy, blood tinged, foul smelling or dark, a UTI could be the cause. UTIs can be serious if they recur or if they travel to the kidneys and are left untreated.

While there is little evidence that cranberries can cure a UTI in progress (these must be treated with antibiotics), some holistic vets do recommend cranberry as a preventive measure for dogs prone to UTIs. Here's how the cranberry works: Bacteria thrive in alkaline urine (high pH), and the berry increases the acidity of urine making it less hospitable for bacteria to grow. It also appears that cranberries have the ability to prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall, thus diminishing the chance of an infection occurring.

Cranberry therapy

If your dog has recurring urinary tract problems and you are interested in cranberry therapy, consult your veterinarian first. Your vet knows your dog best and will advise you if he or she thinks cranberry therapy should be used.

Always remember that a painful urinary tract infection can only be treated with an antibiotic. But for prevention of your dog's recurring urinary problems, you may want to consider a cranberry supplement. As with all medications and supplements, consult your veterinarian before giving cranberry in any form to your dog.