Can Dogs Eat Cherries? What Pet Parents Should Know
Be super careful before feeding your pet cherries 👀
Cherries are a fun little snack — but can dogs eat cherries safely?
You want your pup to indulge in something sweet from time to time, and fruit seems like the healthiest option, right?
To find out if it's a safe fruit for pets to snack on, we spoke with Dr. Bernadine Cruz, a veterinarian with Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in California, and it turns out the answer is a little complicated. Here’s why.
Can dogs eat cherries safely?
Technically, the answer to this question is both yes and no.
The cherry flesh isn’t an issue for your pup, but other parts of the fruit (like the pits, stems and leaves) can actually be really dangerous.
In order for your dog to safely eat cherries, it’s important to know which parts are good and which parts are bad — and why.
Are cherries healthy for dogs?
Cherries are loaded with a bunch of nutrients that are really good for dogs.
“Cherries are a good source of vitamins C, A, K, potassium, magnesium, some have calcium,” Dr. Cruz told The Dodo. “They also contain antioxidants.”
So, feeding your pup some cherry flesh as a snack every once in a while has its benefits.
How are cherries bad for dogs?
However, other parts of the cherry can be really poisonous for dogs. Cherry pits, leaves and stems actually have cyanide in them.
“Though cherries contain cyanide, the quantity is very small and should not be problematic if a pet eats a few,” Dr. Cruz explained. “The majority of the toxin resides in the pit, leaves and stems.”
The whole reason cherry trees contain cyanide is for protection. The cyanide acts as a deterrent to keep animals from eating them.
“When a leaf is chewed upon by the dog, cyanogenic glycoside immediately combines with an enzyme to activate it, causing the poisonous agent to form,” Dr. Cruz said. “Once ingested, cells are not able to use oxygen to convert food to energy, thus causing a form of asphyxiation.”
Signs of cherry poisoning in dogs include:
- Deep red gums
- Abnormally dilated pupils
- Respiratory difficulty
If you notice any of these symptoms, go to the vet ASAP because cherry poisoning can be deadly.
Cherry pits and dogs: What to watch out for
While cherry flesh — in moderation — is OK for your dog to eat, pits are a pretty big problem for a couple reasons.
“The main cause of cherry poisoning in dogs is from the ingestion of the cyanide-containing seeds of the cherry,” Dr. Cruz said.
In addition to potential poisoning, eating a cherry pit is also a choking hazard and can cause an intestinal obstruction.
“A dog that chews on a hard pit can cut its mouth, crack a tooth or the pit could become lodged in its throat,” Dr. Cruz explained. “A few cherry pits will likely not cause any adverse side effects, but it is best to watch for changes in attitude, appetite, vomiting, diarrhea or lack of bowel movements.”
How to safely give your dog cherries
Despite the dangers of cherry pits, there is a way you can safely feed cherries to your dog.
“Small amounts of the flesh cut into bite-sized pieces would be best,” Dr. Cruz said. “The flesh has little cyanide.”
If you remove the pits, stems and leaves, you’re removing the serious sources of cyanide. So, feeding your pup tiny pieces of just the cherry flesh is the best way to turn cherries into a safer snack.
But it’s important to make sure you only feed your dog pieces of flesh from fresh cherries, since canned or preserved cherries are super high in sugar.
And, like with anything, moderation is key.
“Too much of a good thing like fruit can also lead to an intestinal upset like diarrhea or vomiting,” Dr. Cruz explained.