Cherries are best known as a delicious filling in pies or as a finishing touch on cakes and ice creams, but these fruits are also excellent when eaten fresh by itself. If only animals can talk, I?m pretty sure they will lovingly ask, ?Can dogs eat cherries, too??
Unfortunately, cherries are among those foods that aren?t safe for our furry pals to eat. True, this sweet summer fruit could offer some beneficial vitamins and minerals to canine nutrition, but they can do a lot more harm than good.
In this article, we will discuss what you need to know about the potential risks of cherries if you insist on giving them to your dog.
Photo by Roksolana Zasiadko on Unsplash
5 Reasons Why Dogs Can?t Have Cherries
The juicy red flesh of cherry is rich in antioxidants, but like a double-edged sword, cherries also pose health risks to our canine companions.
1. Intestinal obstruction
Cherrystones and stems that accumulate in the stomach or anywhere down the line of the intestines could get stuck. This becomes a foreign body obstruction, which requires surgery. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
Intestinal obstruction is a common problem in dogs eating cherries, particularly in puppies and small breeds. However, do not assume that a large breed is less at risk. Ingesting fruit seeds may still create an intestinal obstruction in large dogs, especially if your dog has swallowed too many.
If the contents are not removed immediately, your dog?s risk to cyanide poisoning increases each minute.
2. Cyanide poisoning
Cherrystones, stems, and leaves contain a minute amount of amygdalin, which is converted into cyanide when ingested. While our body can regulate low concentrations of cyanide, our canine companions cannot.
Dogs are highly susceptible to cyanide. This poison inhibits oxygen uptake by the red blood cells. When your dog?s blood cannot carry sufficient oxygen to meet its body?s needs, your dog?s vital organs can be damaged in just minutes resulting in death.
One or two cherry stones may not cause cyanide poisoning in dogs, but you do not want to take the risk.
3. Broken tooth
Cherrystones are quite hard, and if your dog eats the whole fruit, he may bite the pit and break a tooth. Your dog?s tooth needs to be extracted if the fracture reaches the gums. Otherwise, he is at risk of infection and even disease of the jawbone. A fracture itself is already excruciating. Puppies and toy breeds are at a higher risk simply because their dental structure is much smaller.
4. Gastrointestinal upset
Some cherry fruits contain a moldy stone even if they are freshly harvested. While some types of mold are harmless, others can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. Dogs with a sensitive stomach may also fall ill if you start to incorporate something different from their diet.
Rotting fruits ferment, which changes fructose into alcohol. So, if your dog gets loose in a cherry orchard, he is likely to get drunk if he eats overripe cherries.
What if My Dog Ate a Cherry?
According to veterinary toxicologists (specialists of the nature, effects, and treatment of toxins or poisonous substances), the quantity required to produce cyanide toxicity often depends on the size of your dog and whether or not your dog chewed the stones. Dogs must either eat the stone or ingest broken stones to release the amygdalin, the cyanogenic glucoside.
So, don?t panic if you have a large dog who managed to steal a few cherries. A cherry or two may not cause a severe issue. While it requires large quantities of cherry stones or stems to create signs of concern, it is wise to call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center as a precaution.
Puppies and small breeds, such as Pomeranians and Chihuahuas, are at a higher risk because their GI tracts are much smaller. Intestinal obstruction or cyanide poisoning can happen any time for these pooches. So, keep an eye out for the following signs if you suspect your pooch has eaten many cherries:
Rapid or labored breathing
Bright red gums
Can Dogs Eat De-pitted Cherries?
Cherries that have their stems and stones removed may be a better option for your dog. This bite-sized red fruit has plenty of nutritional and health benefits to give. Cherries are rich in fiber for proper digestion, vitamin C for immunity, and vitamin A for eye health.
That said, there are numerous alternatives available that do not come with potential health risks associated with cherries, nor do they require you to carry out the hassle of removing stems and stones. Good examples are apple slices and blueberries.
Are there Safe Cherries for Dogs?
There are over 1 000 varieties of cherries throughout the world, each with its unique appearance and taste. These include the Bing, Rainier, and Maraschino cherries. The Maraschino cherry, the star atop many cocktail drinks, doesn?t have a hard stone. Still, it is best to avoid this type of cherry. Maraschino cherries may not have a hard stone, but they are loaded with sugar, which is terrible for dogs. Too much sugar causes gastrointestinal disorders in the short term, as well as obesity and diabetes in the long run.
Can dogs eat cherries? Technically, yes. The flesh of cherry is safe for our canine companions to eat.
Unfortunately, the cherry?s stone and stems contain cyanide, which is lethal to dogs if ingested in high quantities. Additionally, ingested pits can create an intestinal obstruction. Puppies and toy breeds are at a higher risk because of their small GI tract.
You will have to remove the stone and the stem first before serving it to your dog. That is a lot of work, and there is no reason to take the risk. That is why veterinarians like Andrea Trafny at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, discourage owners from feeding their dogs cherries.
Be sure to keep cherries away from your dog. If you have a neighbor with a cherry orchard, put your pooch on a leash or risk him getting up to mischief.