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Can Dogs Eat Cherries? Are Cherries Bad For Dogs?

Veterinarian Jo Woodnut weighs in on what to do if your dog ate cherries, and what parts of cherries are toxic. Continue reading, and find out what you should do next.

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Last Updated: March 11, 2021 | 6 min read

Dog with Basket of Cherries

This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not substitute as contact with a trained professional. If your dog ate cherries and is not behaving normally, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Did your dog recently get into a bag of cherries in the pantry, or swipe one off the table? Dogs can somehow manage to eat all sorts of things they aren’t supposed to. Or, perhaps you’re wondering if your pup can share yours after adding them to a bowl of ice cream? The short answer is that no, dogs shouldn’t eat cherries. Like avocados, their pits are toxic and even if they are pitted, they and contain large amounts of sugar.

Cherries are the fruit of trees from the Prunus family. This means they’re closely related to plums. They are small, and are usually red to dark red, although they can be yellow. They’re sweet, and contain a small pip, pit, or stone about the size of a pea. Underripe cherries can sometimes fall from a tree are usually light green in color and very hard.

Because of their smell, and wonderful taste, you may find your dog trying to swipe one from the dinner table. It’s also possible that they may ingest cherries as part of a dish, or another dessert. So what should you do when this happens? Read on to find out!

Are Cherries Poisonous To Dogs?

Yes! Some parts of the cherry are poisonous to dogs. While the flesh is not poisonous; the cherry pits, stems and leaves are all toxic to dogs. They contain cyanide, which is a poison. Cyanide is found in the pits of prunes, plums, and many other types of fruit. It can even be fatal if enough is consumed. Cyanide prevents cells in the body from using oxygen, which they need to function. You can also

Signs of cyanide poisoning in dogs come on very quickly after ingestion. Symptoms include excessive panting, difficulty breathing, bright red gums, weakness, shock, dilated pupils (the black part in the center of the eye getting bigger), and potentially death. While one or two whole cherries is unlikely to be enough to cause cyanide poisoning… why risk it? Every dog is different in the way they respond to toxins.

Another consideration is the cherry pits. Cherry pits are not digestible, meaning they will not be broken down by your dog’s stomach. When swallowed whole, cherry pits can cause a blockage in your dog’s guts. This is more likely in small dogs, or if several pits are eaten. However, should your pup swallow any whole, you should call your veterinary clinic for advice. You should also keep a close eye on them, regardless of their size or the number eaten. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Acting lethargic, or unwell.
  • Passing diahhrea or constipation.
  • Straining to pass stools.
  • Retching and dry heaving.
  • A reduced or absent appetite.

My Dog Ate Cherries, What Should I Do?

Sick Small Dog on Ground
If your dog is ill after eating cherries, contact your veterinarian or canine poison control immediately.

If your dog manages to eat any whole, it is safest to call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline straight away. Depending on the number ingested and the size of your dog, they may advise giving an injection to make your canine companion sick.

This would hopefully make them bring up what they’ve ingested, and prevent any further cyanide from being absorbed. It is important to call your veterinary clinic as soon as possible, since there is only a small window of time in which this can work. After a couple of hours, it could be too late.

It is also important to note that you should never try to make your dog sick at home unless you are directed to do so by your veterinarian. This is potentially very dangerous and can lead to your dog breathing in some vomit as well as reducing the number of options your vet has available. It is only appropriate in very specific situations, and you should let your vet help you decide this.

Are They Good or Bad for Dogs?

The flesh is healthy. It contains fiber, vitamins (especially A and C), calcium and folic acid. They are also well known for containing antioxidants. All of these things are good for dogs. For a person, you would need to eat fourteen for them to count as one of your ‘five a day’.

So, how many can a dog eat? This will depend on your pup’s size and their current weight. If they are overweight and on a diet for example, then cherries are best avoided. For most medium-sized dogs, five would be plenty. Remember that only the flesh is ok for dogs to eat. So you would need to remove the stem, pit and any leaves before offering it.

Even with the flesh offering some nutritional value, there are many other healthy fruit alternatives. We do not recommend that you feed them to your dog as a snack.

Can My Dog Safely Eat Them At All?

Sick Dog at Vet
If your dog eats any cherries containing pits, take your pup to the vet.

You may be asking ‘how many cherries does it take to kill a dog?’ This is a hard question to answer since it depends on so many factors. Bodyweight, breed, individual susceptibility, and general health to name a few. One or two whole cherries are unlikely to cause harm. Nonetheless, the take-home message is not to risk it.

You should never intentionally feed your dog whole cherries. However, we all know that accidents can, and do, happen- dogs are notorious for getting their noses into everything! So, always call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline for advice if your dog has eaten anything that could be toxic, or has the potential to cause a blockage.

The flesh is the only part that is not poisonous. However, it may cause a tummy upset if your dog has not had them before, or if they eat a lot of them. So, you may find your pup has diarrhea the following day! If this is the case, a bland diet and a call to your veterinary clinic for advice would be sensible.

Are There Any Dog-Safe Cherries?

There are many varieties of cherry on the market. Barbados cherries are popular but a bit tart, so your dog may not like these anyway! Bing cherries, which are black, are considered the leading commercial sweet cherry in the United States. Whatever the variety, the flesh is safe for dogs to eat; but never the stem, pit or leaves.

What about glazed, candied or maraschino? Glazed, or candied cherries, have been soaked in heated sugar syrup. Maraschinos are normally preserved in brine and then soaked in food coloring and sugar syrup. Both of these types of cherry tend to have had the pits and stems removed during processing. However, this does not mean they are safe for dogs!

The sugar content of each of these is too high. Excess sugar can cause tummy upsets, obesity and diabetes. It is also a significant factor in the formation of dental cavities. Food colorings are not good for dogs either.  Some of them will even contain alcohol, which is also not beneficial.

So, Are Dogs Allowed to Eat Cherries?

Dog Eating Red Fruit Outdoors
Feed your dog some canine-approved fruits, like watermelon or apples, instead.

There’s not really a simple answer to this question. Dogs are only allowed to eat the flesh of a cherry, as any other part is toxic and can cause blockages. Even so, it’s still not something you should allow your dog to eat. There are plenty of healthy snackable fruit alternatives. Consider Kiwi, bananas, or some Papaya instead.

If you want to offer your dog some cherries, you will need to carefully remove all of these parts and only offer the flesh. A fair amount of work and some very stained fingers, for a pretty small amount of fruit!

Due to a cherry’s small size, your dog would have to eat a fair amount in order to reap any nutritional benefit. There are plenty of safe and nutritious fruits that you could chose as an alternative treat. We find that blueberries and pineapples can be excellent alternatives. Similarly, there are plenty of healthy dog treats on the market to choose from. Remember that whatever treat you choose; treats should be fed in moderation, as part of a balanced diet.

Final Thoughts

As with any other food items that can harm your canine companion, it’s best to store cherries well out of reach for your pup. They smell sweet and will be very attractive to them!  It’s not uncommon for dogs to try eating fruit that may be bad for their health. Other fruits that are harmful to dogs include Grapes, and tomatoes.

If you are considering feeding your dog some fruit to provide a little variety to their diet. You can also use healthy vegetables to help give your pup some additional nutrients and antioxidants. If your pup does manage to eat any whole cherries, call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline for advice straight away.

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