Last Updated on November 11, 2023 by Linda Richard
Dogs and fruits don’t always mesh well which brings us to the common question of can dogs have cherry fruits and juice or are they poisonous to them? This is a tricky one as there are parts of a cherry that are outright toxic to dogs and other parts that are perfectly fine.
So, what exactly does this mean for your dog? Are cherries a good treat? How can you give your dog cherries or should you avoid them altogether? What about cherry juice? We’ll go over all that below.
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Can Dogs Eat Cherries As Treats?
Technically, yes, but only if you remove the pits and stems. This last part is absolutely crucial – cherry pits, stems, as well as their leaves are extremely toxic to dogs! In other words, a pitted cherry is harmless to a dog.
Of course, that doesn’t address the problem all fruits have – sugar. Large quantities of pitted cherries are still going to introduce way too much sugar into your dog’s system. But, then again, going overboard with any food has similar disadvantages. So, as long as you make sure to only give your pup a few pitted cherries every once in a while, there won’t be anything to worry about.
Why Are Cherries Toxic To Dogs?
The thing that makes cherries toxic to dogs is the cyanide in their pits, stems, and leaves. Or, more accurately – it’s the amygdalin in them that the dog’s organism will then convert into cyanide.
As a matter of fact – the same goes for humans too. If we chew cherry pits, we are also going to get an overdose of amygdalin which will then be converted into – a potentially harmful dose of – cyanide. So, the main difference between us and dogs is that we know to spit out cherry pits. Additionally, even when we accidentally swallow a cherry pit, we don’t chew it. Dogs, on the other hand, don’t have the understanding that they shouldn’t chew cherry pits but should spit them out instead.
So, can dogs eat cherry pits? They can and they shouldn’t. As teaching a dog not to chew and swallow cherry pits is next to impossible, the most sensible solution is to just not let your dog near un-pitted cherries. Cyanide toxicity is no joke so you should definitely be careful with leaving bowls of cherries at home if you have a dog. But, again, that applies to most fruits and foods anyway.
Learn more about: Can Dogs Have Raspberries Or Are They Toxic To Them?
Can Dogs Drink Cherry Juice?
If pitted cherries are harmless for dogs, then can dogs have cherry juice? Furthermore, you may have read that cherries have antioxidant properties and help alleviate the pain and symptoms of arthritis – something that labs and other dogs often suffer from.
All that is true, however, it should be mentioned that there isn’t much (or any, really) evidence on cherry juice helping dogs with pain. So, if your dog has arthritis and you’re looking for cures, don’t think that cherry juice is some kind of a panacea.
That being said, a bit of cherry juice shouldn’t harm your dog too much either as it will be free of the amygdalin/cyanide present in cherry pits. However, there are a couple of caveats to this:
- You need to make sure the cherry juice is natural and isn’t full of any additives, colorants, chemicals, etc.
- Even a natural cherry juice is still going to introduce a lot of sugar in your dog’s system – moderation is key. A few gulps every once and again shouldn’t be an issue but not more than that.
Can Dogs Eat Cherries Maraschino?
Talking about pitted cherries, you may think of maraschinos. The problem with maraschino cherries is that they are chock-full of lots of added sugar. This makes them a very bad idea for any dog. They may not be as toxic as cyanide but sugar isn’t good for dogs either.
How Many Cherry Pits Are Toxic To Dogs?
This is all a matter of body weight. There doesn’t seem to be much of a difference based on breed, at least as far as we can tell – research is scant in that area. The rule of thumb is that the smaller the dog is, the more dangerous even just a couple of cherry pits can be.
For humans, consuming as much as 3-4 Morello cherry pits or 7-9 red or black cherry pits can lead to cyanide toxicity. That is if we chew them down. For dogs, the problem is fairly similar. Just calculate how big or small your dog is – the lower the body mass, the fewer cherry pits will be needed to cause a problem.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cyanide Poisoning In Dogs?
Cyanide poisoning’s symptoms can vary from one dog to the next, especially based on the dog’s size. With larger dogs, you may not see any symptoms and problems even after a few cherries. With smaller dogs, however, even just one small cherry pit can lead to any or all of the following symptoms:
These symptoms will usually present themselves in the first 24 hours after eating the cherries. With larger dogs, you may notice them in the 24-48 hour window too.
My Dog Ate Cherry Pits – What Should I Do?
The best course of action would be to just call your vet immediately while preparing for a trip to the clinic too. Even if your dog isn’t experiencing any symptoms and even if just a single cherry has been consumed. This goes double if you know that your dog has chewed the cherry pit and/or if your pooch is on the lower side of the weight chart.
Trying to induce vomiting may be a good idea in certain situations, especially if your dog has just eaten the cherry. However, that comes with its own risks so we’d still say you should first contact your vet.
So, Can Dogs Eat Cherries?
Yes, but it’s really not worth the risk. The presence of pits, stems, and leaves, as well as the sugar in the cherries and relative lack of positive effects just means it’s not worth it. If your dog is positively mad about cherries and they make an excellent training treat then a couple of pitted cherries once or twice a week may be ok. But anything more than that is just unnecessary.