Cranberry For Dogs: Treating Urinary Tract Infections And More…
Both human and pet websites have been singing praises to the health benefits that you and your dog can derive from cranberry supplements. These praises are sung championing both, cranberry products as well as the fruit. As far as humans are concerned, cranberry is known to promote kidney and urinary tract health, the benefits are very similar when it comes to our dogs’ health.
The raging war against the overprescribing of antibiotics has meant that responsible dog owners are seeking other ways to treat infections.
As with other products related to our pets’ health, incomplete articles often make it more difficult for us to understand what is what. With this post, we aim to provide you with sufficient information about cranberry supplements. This should put you in a great position to make the right decision for your dog’s health.
We will consider the benefits as well as potential risk factors that you ought to be mindful of. Speaking of the benefits, we will also cover how to make the most of your supplements for the best possible benefits.
Is it safe to give cranberries to my dog?
Perhaps the best place to start is by addressing the most important question. Yes, it is absolutely safe for your dog to eat cranberries and indeed to take cranberry supplements. There have yet to be any adverse reactions noted to our knowledge from dogs consuming cranberries or cranberry related products.
As with anything else this should be done in moderation and can be considered on a case by case basis. If you find that your dog is being negatively affected by taking cranberries, you must consult your vet for allergy testing.
We will look at some potential side effects of taking cranberry supplements later on in this article.
UTI Health Benefits
No matter where you conduct your research, the main benefit of cranberry supplements and other cranberry products are largely linked to treating issues with the urinary tract. This is a benefit that you and your dog can share. Cranberry supplements are fast becoming one of the preferred methods for treating lower urinary tract infections. This is largely due to the increasing fear of bacterial resistance resulting from the overprescribing of antibiotics.
This is something that we do not have to worry about when using cranberry as a treatment method. The main concern is that UTIs tend to recur. If your dog develops a bacterial strain that is resistant to antibiotics, it would be more difficult to treat it, and perhaps even impossible.
The most common cause of UTIs is the presence of a strain of e-coli. If untreated at the urinary tract level, this bacteria will colonize the entire tract and enter the bladder, which, of course, would be a much bigger issue.
So, how do cranberry supplements help? E-coli works through adhesion, it binds to the host tissue. Infection occurs as a result of this binding. It then spreads across the tract until it is treated. The method of intervention that cranberry provides is courtesy of phytonutrients that they have. These come in the form of A-type proanthocyanidins. They ensure that e-coli does not bind to the tract and the bladder, thus staving off the infection.
Recent studies have shown that you do not quite get the same results from cranberry juice and other similar products as you do from the supplements and pills. One way to explain this disparity would be the metabolism that occurs throughout digestion. When your dog drinks cranberry juice, it is metabolized throughout the digestive system. As such it is not as potent when it arrives at the site of the infection.
In contrast, when you take cranberry supplements of pills, they tend to come with a coating. It is this coating that slows down the metabolism process and overall breakdown of the cranberry. This is why it arrives at the site of the infection with more potency, hence delivering better results.
We should probably mention that it is not just e-coli that is implicated in UTIs. You will often find other strains of bacteria such as staphylococcus and streptococcus, among others. [MSPCA].
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Can a dog UTI cure itself?
As with human bodies, your dog’s body has a fairly active immune system. This means that from the moment that there is an infection is detected in the body, the immune system begins to fight it. In some cases, it will prevail. For the most part, it will require some assistance, this can be in the form of medication or lifestyle changes.
The risk of allowing the dog’s body to fend off the UTI on its own is that it will continue to spread until the e-coli has reached some vital organs. This would make it much harder to fight off the infection, and potentially fatal. The best results often come from starting to fight it off as soon as possible. Getting in early with cranberry supplements or other methods of treating will go a long way.
Risk Factors Associated with cranberry supplements
We briefly touched on this one earlier. As with anything, cranberry supplements are not completely risk-averse. The only thing that we can do is to measure the risk against the reward. Fortunately, all of the side effects that we came across during our research are outweighed by the reward. The more serious ones are associated with overdose or abuse of the supplements, which no responsible dog owner will do.
- Upset stomach
- Running stomach
- Kidney stones
- Allergic reaction
An upset stomach is not unusual. Dogs will often experience this as a result of a change in diet or even the environment. It is usually nothing to worry about and would resolve itself as they become accustomed to the new supplements. If it continues, you should consult the vet.
The diarrhea is quite similar to the upset stomach, except in this case you will have some physical evidence of it. Your dog’s poop will be watery and more frequently passed than usual. As with the upset stomach, this is one that you should monitor for a few days. If it continues for too long, seek medical advice.
Kidney stones are not a common side effect. Cranberries have a high content of oxalate. Seeing as oxalate is a key component in kidney stones, it stands to reason that there is an increased risk due to the presence of one ingredient. They commonly occur where there is an underlying kidney condition prior to taking the supplement or if the supplement is overused.
Cranberries contain Salicylic acid. If your dog is allergic to aspirin you may want to steer clear of this one.
How much sugar do they have
One of the concerns that dog owners often have when using new products that are derived from sweet things is the risk of diabetes. This is a reasonable concern to have. One way to ensure your peace of mind is to consider the sugar content of each product individually, you can do this by reading the label.
There are 4 grams of sugar in every 100 grams of cranberries, it ranks fairly low in comparison to other fruits, thus the risk of diabetes is incredibly low. As long as the cranberries or supplements are not overindulged in, there is nothing to worry about.
What is an appropriate dose?
The appropriate dose will largely depend on the size of your dog. You will often find clear guidance with any supplement that you purchase. Where this is not provided in great detail, the rule of thumb is to start with low doses and make gradual adjustments.
Can I give my dog cranberry juice for a urinary tract infection?
The evidence of the efficiency of cranberry in treating urinary tract infection is overwhelming. There has been a lot of research published in support of said results. If a sufficient amount of cranberry is put into the infected area, you will notice a recovery. This will be due to the cranberry affecting e-coli's ability to adhere to the urinary tract walls. As a result, the rate of spread is cut to almost zero, while the affected area is treated.
So we have covered cranberry in general. However, the results have not always been as good when the cranberry is taken in the form of cranberry juice. There are diminishing returns, which are likely caused by the presence of A-type proanthocyanidins being reduced due to metabolism through digestion. The inverse of this is seen in that the capsules that surround cranberry supplements in pill form are designed to survive most digestive processes.
To get good results from cranberry juice, one study estimated that there would need to be an intake of 150 mL two times a day. Not only will that be expensive, but it will also increase the risk of developing other issues such as diabetes. There would also be potential issues with the stomach, as described in our section on the side effects.
Oral Health Benefits
Admittedly, there are no direct benefits that your oral health will derive from taking cranberry supplements. However, the indirect ones are of some significance. Oral health issues such as odor and gum diseases are usually a result of the presence of bacteria. Taking cranberry supplements deals with e-coli, which is one of the more prevalent ones within the body.
It also deals with the mechanism by which a lot of bacteria spread. This means that there will be fewer bacteria being transferred from other parts of the dog’s body into the mouth. As such, the teeth, gums, and breath will benefit.
Although there is still a lot of research to be done in this area. Preliminary research within a controlled environment has suggested that cranberries slow down tumor growth. This would go a long way in cancer prevention and treatment. It isn’t a cure, but certainly a step in the right direction.
Is Cranberry good for the kidney?
Although there has often been evidence of the benefits of cranberry for treating issues such as kidney stones. This evidence is not conclusive. There is still room for additional research to be carried out in this area before we can definitively state that there are benefits to be derived.
Having said that, the clearing up of bacteria and the slowing down of tumor growth will undoubtedly help the kidney. If there is an infection within the kidney, cranberry will hinder the progression of the infection, making recovery a more distinct possibility. You should not solely rely on cranberry for the treatment of any kidney-related illness.
How do you prevent bladder infections in dogs?
Bladder infections usually begin in the urinary tract. When UTIs are left untreated for a prolonged period they make their way into the bladder. Therefore, when considering any prevention, we ought to think of it from these two points. If we are to prevent UTIs in our dogs, we would largely prevent bladder infections. And, by dealing with any infections in a timely manner, we can make sure that they do not reach the bladder.
The first stage of prevention is hydration. When your dog is dehydrated, its kidney function is not optimal. This means that toxins linger in the system for longer. By providing your dog with water at regular intervals you help its body defend itself from potential infections. You want to keep a fresh bowl of water available for your dog at all times. Change it frequently and clean the bowl as well. A filthy bowl creates another route for bacteria entry.
Underlying conditions are often overlooked. They play a massive role in making your dog susceptible to UTI and bladder infections. Treating or managing these infections ensures that the risk of infection is minimized. Some of the conditions to be mindful of include UTI, kidney disease, diabetes, and general inflammation. If your dog already presents with some of these, you should be vigilant with any symptoms of bladder infections.
Being able to pick up UTI early is key to preventing bladder infections. Early detection means that there is more time to treat the infection before it spreads.
Dog UTI Symptoms
- Blood in your dog’s urine.
- Difficulty passing urine.
- Increase in the frequency of peeing.
- Difficulty controlling the bladder.
- Breaking housetraining
- Urine with bad smell
The difficulty in controlling the bladder presents in the form of your dog starting to make a mess in places that are out of character. This is easier to pinpoint if the dog is toilet trained.
One of the initial indicators of a fever is a drastic reduction in the activity of your dog. If he/she is not running around as normal, checking the temperature will show you if there is cause for concern. The normal temperature of your dog should be 100-102.5℉ or 38-39.2℃. If the temperature presents higher than this rate, monitor the situation closely, and consider seeking veterinary assistance.
Difficulty passing urine can be identified through your dog showing signs of discomfort when passing urine. When in pain, your dog will whimper while passing urine. This is a key symptom of a UTI infection. Treatment is required immediately.
Most canine owners will have some sort of idea of how many times their dog needs to relieve itself. This is especially true for those that need to let the dog out for a pee. If the frequency has suddenly increased with no clear reason, that may be a sign of an infection brewing. You can confirm this by seeing if this symptom is running together with any of the others explained above.
The blood in the urine is fairly self-explanatory. It is often found in urine that is also cloudy. There is a whitish residual look to the urine. The latter may look normal to the untrained eye. As such, the blood is the more telling of the two.
Dogs, just like human beings, tend to try to provide themselves with comfort when there is pain. You may notice your dog licking its genital area more frequently than usual or rubbing it gently against surfaces.
Is it OK to give your dog cranberry supplements every day?
Yes, cranberry supplements can be taken daily. There are a few things that should be taken into consideration. Whatever you give your dog will need to be metabolized. Metabolism allows your dog’s body to clear out what has been taken in. There is a level in which the supplements will be effective. Once they drop below that level within the system, their efficiency is no longer felt.
Under normal circumstances, your dog should be able to metabolize cranberry supplements within a day. This will mean a clean slate for the dosage that they take on the next day. If their metabolism is compromised due to an underlying health condition, there is a risk of overdosing. This is due to adding more cranberry supplements while there is still some to clear.
If you have reason to be concerned about your dog’s metabolism, it is best to speak to the vet. There is a therapeutic range. While the amount of cranberry within your dog’s system falls within this range, the treatment is in effect. Anything below the range will not bear results. When exceeding the therapeutic range, there is a higher risk of adverse effects.
Do cranberry supplements make your dog’s pee red?
Under normal circumstances, pee should not come out with any form of red color to it. Whatever your dog eats and drinks should be processed through the digestive system to an extent that when it is passed as urine, there is no indication of its original color. Cranberry supplements should not make your dog’s pee red.
If your dog’s pee is red, this is an indication of an underlying condition. In most cases they would be related to kidney function. The red color in the pee may also be blood, which as we mentioned in another section can be a symptom of a UTI infection.
Can cranberry supplements cause constipation
There is no evidence of cranberry constipation causing constipation. In fact, they tend to have the opposite effect when taken in high doses.
Can cranberry supplements cause diarrhea
Yes, cranberry supplements can cause diarrhea. We mentioned this in relation to cranberry juice and the fruit earlier. If given within the recommended doses, there should not be any issues with diarrhea. However, if you are to give your dog more than the recommended dose there are higher chances of side effects which include diarrhea.
Can your dog take vitamin C and cranberry supplements together?
There are no notable counter or contra-indications between vitamin C and cranberry supplements. Some cranberry supplements actually have some vitamin C in them. It is said to make them more efficient.
There are a lot of reasons to champion the use of cranberry supplements for dogs. The main one is the treatment of urinary tract infection. They provide a safe alternative to the use of antibiotics. There are no major side effects to be worried about when the supplements are reasonably used.
Jason M. Collins