Updated - Jun 11th, 2021
Cherries are a summer favorite for fruit salads, pies, jams, juices, and many other gastronomical delights. They’re full of beneficial nutrients for us humans, but are they safe for our dogs to eat? Can we share that delightful bowl of cherries we’re munching on with our canine companions?
The short answer is no. The risks of this fruit outweigh the benefits – making the cherry a fruit you should avoid sharing with your pup. But don’t take my word for it, let’s look closer.
The cherry on top can be the pits for your dog
The Cherry falls into the stone fruit or prunus species, joining peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums.
Cherries come in two types – sweet and tart. The most common varieties are Bing, Ranier, Black, and Maraschino. They all contain Vitamins A and C, fiber, melatonin, and some powerful antioxidants.
Studies associate the nutrients in this fruit with blood sugar control, pain relief, helping muscle regeneration after exercise, and reducing hypertension. These are significant benefits for humans who can consume enough to utilize the nutrients. But dogs don’t benefit from them, and here’s why.
Cherries also contain a lot of sugar. One cup carries 22g. of carbohydrates – most of them being glucose or natural sugars. For a human, that’s not bad, but for a dog, it’s too much and can lead to an upset stomach, obesity, or complicate diabetes.
Being a stone fruit, the seeds are encased in a hard pit or shell in the center of the fruit. These fruits contain cyanogenic glycoside or cyanide. Cyanide is a very toxic compound found in the pits, stems, and leaves of stone fruits. Chewing, cracking, or crushing the pits is how the cyanide becomes active to create toxicity or poisoning.
One or two cherries probably won’t cause a life-threatening situation in a large dog; however, a small dog could develop cyanide poisoning from even one cherry pit if they chomp down on it. Dogs frequently gulp down their treats whole, but the risk of cyanide toxicity is too great to take that gamble.
Signs of cyanide poisoning can come 15-20 minutes after ingestion. Symptoms to watch for are:
- Panting or hyperventilation
- Bright red gums
- Dilated pupils
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Convulsions or seizures
If you suspect your sneaky snacker got into the cherry bowl, contact your vet immediately. The vet may want to induce vomiting to prevent cyanide toxicity.
Another issue with cherry ingestion is the potential for blockage or intestinal obstructions. Ingestion of the pits, stems, or leaves can create havoc in your dog’s digestive tract and can damage or tear the esophagus lining on the way down.
Watch for signs of intestinal upset for 24 hours after eating cherries. They include:
- Decreased appetite
Signs of esophagus damage include:
- Refusal to eat
The potential for obstruction is huge. If your pup eats whole cherries, it can cause a choking hazard that can be fatal. The pit can cause gastrointestinal blockage, which prevents food from moving through their digestive system. This can also be life threatening and require surgery.
Signs of an intestinal blockage include:
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased fecal production
If your dog has chomped down some cherries, you need to watch for these symptoms. They can appear up to 24 hours after ingestion. If observed, see your veterinarian immediately.
Pet Pro Tip: If you have a dog that is prone to ‘snacksidents’ – you should consider getting a dog insurance plan as soon as possible. It can help you afford the best care in the future by covering eligible vet bills for digestive illnesses, toxic ingestion, and more.
What about fresh, processed, or maraschino cherries?
The flesh or meat of the cherry is not toxic to your dog. However, too much of the fruit can cause a tummy ache or diarrhea. There’s also the high sugar content (for dogs), making this a fruit to avoid for overweight or diabetic dogs. The reality is your dog would need to consume large quantities of cherries in order to reap any of the nutritional benefits from them.
- Maraschino cherries have no pits, but they have loads of added sugar. We use them in drinks and desserts (The cherry on top!). Added sugar frequently makes dogs sick or gives them tummy aches, so they should avoid these cherries.
- Processed, syrup laden, or dried cherries include too many additives, added sugars, flavors, or dyes for them to be safe for your canine.
Puppies are especially susceptible to both stomach upset and cyanide poisoning, so no cherries for your puppy!
Safe ways to offer your dog cherries
Dog diets should comprise a healthy, balanced dog food with any treats using only 10% of the total daily caloric intake. Anything more can lead to obesity or diabetes.
Dogs like sweet fruits, but some carry more risks than others. For that reason, it’s advisable to speak with your vet whenever you consider adding new food to your dog’s normal diet. Your vet knows your dog and will recommend the appropriate amounts for their health needs.
If you want to offer your dog cherries, start with fresh organic cherries. Rinse them and remove the pit, stem, and leaves, before chopping the cherry flesh into small pieces to eliminate the choking or blockage hazards.
You can offer your dog the cherry pieces as is, or mix a few into plain yogurt with other fresh fruits like strawberries, pineapple, or apples. Blend them up for a tasty smoothie, or offer them as a hydrating fruit salad your pup will eagerly gobble up. Just make sure the fresh cherries are not the main ingredient in the mixture.
There are a few, appetizing recipes on the internet using cherries prepared correctly for your dog:
Cherry Pineapple Chicken Dog Treats
Alternatives for cherries include blueberries, apples, strawberries, watermelon, bananas, and so many more. Here’s a great link for more information about the many fruits and vegetables your pup may enjoy, as well as quick, tasty ways to offer them up next time you want a refreshing, healthy snack for your furry friends.
In conclusion, the answer to the question, “Can My Dog Eat Cherries?” is no, as they pose a very high risk for your fur baby. There are so many wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables that are safer for your dog than cherries. It’s wise to just forego them and offer your pup a healthy snack of safer fruits and vegetables that provide excellent health benefits without the enormous risks.