Cranberries in dog and cat food: any direct benefit?
Cranberries are being included in many pet foods without issue, but there is very little evidence that they are providing substantial urinary tract benefit.
Cranberries are found on the ingredient panel of many pet foods. They are often associated with urinary tract health claims, foods that claim to be fortified with antioxidants, or those that appeal to pet owners looking for added fruits and vegetables. Cranberries are not a traditional ingredient for pets, so more information about them and their utility might be helpful.
All about cranberries
The cranberry fruit grows on an evergreen dwarf shrub with trailing vines. The shrubs grow in acidic bogs with sandy-soil bottoms throughout the cooler regions of the planet. In 2015, there were 1.2 billion pounds of cranberries grown worldwide with the US leading production at nearly 70 percent of the market, followed by Canada and Chile as a distant second and third. The early colonists to America were introduced to cranberries by the Natives they encountered and from these humble beginnings, the wild-type berries were improved and agricultural practices were refined to produce a significant market sector. Today they are grown in natural wetland bogs and harvested in the fall.
Once harvested, the cranberries are processed and marketed in many forms: fresh chilled, frozen or as dried whole berries, as well as juice, puree or extracts. The market and the processing procedures are very well developed so each form can be readily available during most of the year. However, with a fall harvest and coinciding holiday seasons, logistics can be challenging in the last quarter of the year. There does not seem to be an established “secondary” cranberry…