Can dogs eat cherries?

Health and Wellbeing

Fruits are a fickle food when it comes to whether or not our dogs can eat them. We humans often think of fruits as a great healthy snack, but dog owners are well-aware some fruits such as grapes are toxic to dogs. It makes it im-paw-tent to check which foods we can safely share with our furry friends. Cherries are part of the prunus family, which includes plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots. For instance, can dogs eat cherries?

Can dogs eat cherries?

Like many things, there are certain rules about whether or not your dog can eat cherries. It’s not a strict “yes” or “no” answer, and here’s why.

CAN DOGS EAT CHERRIES?

Yes, dogs can eat the fruit of fresh cherries. However, you should never feed your dog whole cherries as it can make them sick.

Just like people, dogs cannot eat the stones of cherries. These hard seeds can damage their teeth, cause blockages in their gut, and contain trace amounts of cyanide.

However, the flesh of the cherry fruit is safe for pups to try. So dogs can eat cherries, but you must make sure they have been pitted and the seed has been removed from the fruit before your pooch can eat them.

CAN DOGS EAT GLACÉ CHERRIES?

No, your dog should not eat glacé or maraschino cherries. These cherries do not contain the poisonous stones, but the fruits have been preserved using a lot of sugar. Eating too much sugar can lead to poor oral health and put your dog at risk of diabetes and obesity.

For the same reason, your dog shouldn’t eat canned or dried cherries that have been preserved in syrup because they can contain additional additives and sugar that are bad for them.

ARE CHERRIES GOOD FOR DOGS?

Dogs don’t need to eat lots of fruit to stay healthy, but they can make a very tasty alternative to treats with more paw-sitive nutritional value.

Cherries contain vitamin A, which is an essential vitamin for dogs that helps to keep all aspects of their body in good condition, from their fur to their nerves. Cherries are also packed with antioxidants, helping to keep their cells healthy and provide anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain fibre, which will help to keep your dog’s bowel movements regular and maintain a healthy gut.

However, given how small cherries are, your dog needs to eat quite a few of them to provide many health benefits. And by then, they’ve probably eaten too many to be paw-ticularly good for them. That being said, cherries are still a healthier option than something fatty like cheese or a highly-processed dog treat (note, not all dog treats are highly processed).

Cherries certainly aren’t bad for your dog and can make a great treat or special topping for their dinner.

WILL CHERRIES MAKE DOGS SICK?

As with many human foods, even the healthy ones, overeating cherries could make your dog sick. If your dog eats too many cherries, they could suffer from stomach cramps, vomiting, or diarrhoea. Some pooches with particularly sensitive stomachs might be sick after eating a few cherries because of the naturally-occurring sugars found in the fruit.

Generally, if you only feed your dog a few fresh cherries with the stones removed, they should be fine.

If your dog eats whole cherries that still contain the stones they can become very ill. This is because cherry stones contain cyanide and eating too many will be toxic. Cherry stones can also pose a choking hazard for small dogs and can cause obstructions in their gastrointestinal tract too.

If you have a cherry tree in your garden, you need to make sure your pooch doesn’t tuck into any fallen fruit. Not just because they will probably eat too many and make themself sick, but they could eat rotten, mouldy, or overripe fruit which is not good for them.

Overripe fruit that has started to ferment can intoxicate your dog because the fruit has begun to turn to alcohol. If you suspect your pooch is intoxicated or shows any signs of illness, they need to be taken to the vet.

WILL WILD CHERRIES MAKE DOGS SICK?

A dog foraging wild cherries unsupervised will probably be sick. This is mostly because all parts of the cherry plant are toxic to dogs, except the fruit. A foraging dog will probably wolf down everything including the stems and stones, which can cause sickness and can even prove fatal if eaten excessively.

Secondly, not all species of cherry are palatable to humans or canines and many require cooking. Your pup will probably spit it out and seem none too pleased they have been offered a very tart snack. But a stubborn pooch could gobble up these bitter fruits and end up with a very poorly tummy.

Additionally, many trees can produce fruit that looks similar to cherries but are not edible. Never forage and eat anything if you are not certain of what it is, and don’t offer it to your dog either. Not everything that is safe for humans to eat is safe for dogs!

CAN CHERRIES KILL DOGS?

Feeding your dog a few pitted, unprocessed cherries shouldn’t cause them any harm. Overfeeding cherries could cause them some sickness and gastrointestinal discomfort. But can cherries kill dogs?

Sadly, yes. It’s unlikely, but not impossible. This is because cherry pits contain a small amount of amygdalin which is released when the stone is chewed or crushed. Amygdalin is then turned into poisonous cyanide when digested.

All parts of the cherry plant, including the stem and leaves, also contain traces of amygdalin or cyanide. The only part of a cherry that does not contain any and is safe to ingest is the fruit’s flesh.

Cyanide is poisonous to dogs and people, and if you or your dog eat a lot of cherries with their seeds, stems, or leaves it can be fatal. However, the seeds must be broken or chewed to release the chemicals inside. Plus, the dose of cyanide in a cherry pit is very small, and your dog will need to eat a lot for it to build up to a lethal dose.

So if your dog manages to eat one whole cherry, they will probably be fine (if you're unsure, consult a vet).

But if your pup has somehow swallowed a few whole cherries, you should contact your vet for advice. They may advise you on how to safely induce vomiting at home to try and remove the cherries from your dog’s stomach. Otherwise, you may have to take your dog into the practice to be checked.

If your dog has eaten whole cherries watch out for signs of cyanide poisoning. These include:

  • Shock
  • Bright red gums
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dilated pupils

Remember, the toxicity level of cyanide will vary depending on the size of your dog. The smaller your dog, the lower their tolerance. This means it takes a smaller dose of cyanide to poison a little dog. Smaller dogs who eat whole cherries are also more at risk of gastrointestinal blockages caused by the stones.

CHERRY SEEDS CAN ALSO OBSTRUCT THEIR GUT

As mentioned above, cherry seeds not only contain cyanide but are near impossible to digest and can get stuck in your dog’s gut. This is paw-ticularly problematic for smaller dogs, as the seed is big enough it could become a choking hazard or cause blockages in their digestive tract. Signs of a blockage in their gut will include vomiting, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite. If you’re worried your dog has a seed obstructing their gut, you should contact your vet.

HOW MANY CHERRIES CAN DOGS HAVE?

The amount of cherries a dog can safely eat varies on their size and the sensitivity of their stomach. Some dogs can wolf down plenty without a problem, but some might have diarrhoea if they eat more than a few. There is no strict rule regarding how many cherries a dog can eat. Instead, keep to the 10% rule. That means all treats your dog eats, including cherries, should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake.

The most im-paw-tent thing to remember is to only feed your dog cherries that have no stems or stones. To prevent the possibility of illness, only feed them a few cherries at a time. If you’ve never fed your dog cherries before, only offer them one or two and keep an eye on them for a few hours to make sure it doesn’t make them sick. If your pooch is fine, you can offer a few more.

RECAP: CAN DOGS EAT CHERRIES?

Yes, dogs can eat cherries. The fruit is full of vitamins and the sweet taste will seem like a special treat. Don’t offer too many though, or you might pup-set their stomach. Make sure your dog does not eat the stones inside the fruit or they could become sick. You should never let your pooch eat any part of the cherry tree either, including the stems and leaves, as they are poisonous.

Cherries can be a yummy snack for dogs, fed alongside a healthy, wholesome, complete dinner. Pure is filled to the brim with nutritional value, all packed into natural ingredients, such as meat, fruits and vegetables. This means your dog can enjoy healthy dog food that doesn't cut back on taste.

Dr Andrew Miller BVSc MRCVS

Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS

Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.

Sources
  1. Are cherries poisonous? Pet Poison Helpline