While cranberry may help your Thanksgiving bird, it can potentially hurt your cats and dogs!
Of course I’m not talking about giving your pets a heaping spoonful of your holiday cranberry sauce, but rather cranberry supplements. They’re everywhere these days and touted and marketed for “urinary tract health,” and even as an alternative to antibiotics for urinary tract infections (UTIs). But are they OK for your pets? And are they even effective?
While plenty of people give them to their cats and dogs, it turns out that there are actually a few ways that cranberry “urinary health” supplements can potentially harm your pets. I think people should be aware of these potential risks.
- Cranberries don’t just contain the beneficial proanthocyanidins, they also contain oxalates. Oxalates can increase a pet’s risk of developing oxalate stones in their kidneys and/or bladder. Ouch!
- Many cranberry “urinary health” supplements also contain vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which has also been touted as having beneficial effects within the urinary system. Excessive supplementation of vitamin C though has been shown to increase the risk of oxalate stones in the kidneys and bladder of people.
- Though I’m not aware of any cranberry urinary supplements that currentlycontain xylitol, I wouldn’t be surprised if one (or a couple) eventually hit the market. Especially since some say that xylitol can also help prevent UTIs. So, as always, check ingredient labels for xylitol… especially if using a product made for people!
Now, this is not meant to cause unnecessary panic, as plenty of pets (and people) use cranberry supplements without issue (though some may be using them with issue, and just not realizing it). But there’s no doubt that these supplements aren’t without their risks. And that’s especially true in cats and dogs with a history of having had oxalate-containing bladder/kidney stones, or at otherwise increased risk of developing them.
So, that’s a little about the potential safety risks of these supplements. As for whether or not they actually work, please check out my newest article on the site – Cranberry & Your Pet’s Urinary Health—Miracle Berry or Just a Fad. I go over what we know so far, as well as cover why all “urinary issues” are not the same. I hope you’ll check it out!
Have a great week everyone, and happy Thanksgiving!
Dr. Jason Nicholas
The Preventive Vet