Cherries are many people's favorite summer fruit, and it's for good reasons too. From cherry ice cream, fruit salad to jam, your furry friends will most likely want a bite of whatever you are eating. As pet owners, you can't help wondering, can a dog eat cherries? Can dogs enjoy the beneficial nutrients like us? Are cherries safe for dogs to eat? Are cherries poisonous to dogs?
In this guide, we will share everything you need to know about feeding cherry fruit to a dog.
Can Dogs Eat Cherries?
The short answer is, not really. There are way more pitfalls than benefits, and therefore, many opt out of giving cherries to their dog.
Dogs can't eat both tart and sweet cherries types as a whole, and any consumption may even be dangerous. The flesh or the meat of cherry is not toxic to your dog, but the pit is toxic and can be very hazardous. While cherries do contain some beneficial nutrients, they do more harm than good. If you have fresh cherries at home or have a cherry tree in your yard, you will need to read them below.
If your dog eats one or two cherries, it most likely won't be life-threatening, and he will be okay. However, if you have a small dog, it can be a different story. Cherry fruit falls into the stone fruit category or prunus species as the seeds are encased in a hard pit or shell in the center of the fruit, like a plum, peach, and apricot. The pit of these fruits contains cyanogenic glycoside or cyanide, and it is a very toxic compound to a dog if it's ingested. And overconsumption can lead to cyanide poisoning.
Why Are Cherries Bad for dogs?
As mentioned earlier, the cherry pits and cherry trees can lead to cyanide poisoning. If you are unsure exactly how many cherries your dog ate, look for the sign of cyanide poisoning. Signs of cyanide poisoning can occur 15-20 minutes after eating cherries, and here are what to watch out for:
Cyanide toxicity symptoms:
- Panting or hyperventilation
- Bright red gums
- Dilated pupils
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Convulsions or seizures
If your dog displays any of the signs above, contact your vet immediately or the pet poison helpline. Your vet may want you to induce vomiting or help your dog stand up.
Fresh whole cherries are fairly small size fruit, and if you have a dog that gulps down their dog treats, he most likely gulps down the cherries. This makes cherries a choking hazard, and it can be fatal. Be sure to keep your fresh cherries out of your dog's reach.
Even if your dog ate a few cherries and he is feeling fine, and no choking occurred, your dog can experience esophagus damage and/ or intestinal blockage. This means the cherry pit can damage or tear the esophagus lining as it goes down the dog's digestive tract and prevents food from moving through the digestive system. It can be life-threatening and require surgery to remove the cherry pits.
Sign of gastrointestinal blockage includes:
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased fecal production
Signs of esophagus damage include:
- Refusal to eat
If your dog has any symptoms above, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Too much sugar
Cherry flesh or meat is safe for dogs. However, cherries contain a lot of sugar. Both sweet and tart cherries contain a significant sugar level, with tart cherries having lower sugar content than sweet cherries. For us humans, the glucose level is fine. But it can lead to an upset stomach or obesity for a dog.
If your dog has an underlying health condition and you want to feed your dog cherry flesh, talk with your veterinarian first. Excess sugar can lead to diabetes, obesity, upset stomach, and even oral health issues!
Can a dog eat fresh, processed cherries or Maraschino cherries?
The meat of the fresh cherry is not toxic to a dog but contains too much sugar that can cause tummy ache or diarrhea. If you plan to feed your dog some fresh cherry meat, it's best to consult with your veterinarian first.
Processed cherries like dried cherries, jam, syrup, ice cream, pies, or any cherry-flavored foods should be avoided at all times. They contain too much added sugar, flavor, and dyes. Even naturally flavored with real cherries should be avoided as they also can have added sugar.
Maraschino cherries are pit-less, and they are still not good for dogs to eat as they contain a ton of sugar.
How To Safely Offer Dog Cherries
It's possible that your dog loves eating fresh cherries as they can be quite sweet, and dogs love sweet fruits. If this is your first time feeding cherries to your dog, it's best to check with your veterinarian because this fruit contains a significant amount of sugar. If your dog has diabetes or is overweight, you will want to avoid this fruit.
Before offering your dog cherry, rinse them thoroughly to remove pits, stems, and leaves. It's best to feed your dog organic cherries as pesticides and herbicides can cause your dog to have an upset stomach. Once you wash the cherry, chop the cherry meat into smaller pieces to prevent choking.
You can offer your dog cherry as is, mix into plain yogurt or mix it with other fruits. You can also blend them into a tasty smoothie.
Are there health benefits of eating cherry?
Cherries are super healthy for humans, and they can be for a dog as well. However, dogs won't be able to reap some of the benefits that humans can, like blood sugar control, reduced hypertension, or pain relief. Here are some benefits of eating cherries for your dog:
Vitamin A (beta-carotene)
Vitamin A offers various health benefits to humans, but unfortunately, a dog's body can't convert beta carotene into vitamin A like the way we do. If your dog eats a balanced diet, he probably already has enough vitamin A, and the free-up beta-carotene will act as an antioxidant.
Tart cherries contain polyphenols that have been shown to increase levels of bacteria from the Bactericides genus that are like a prebiotic. This will help promote good gut health, and you can also provide your dog with probiotic supplements.
Cherries contain an antioxidant called anthocyanins that can strengthen your dog's immune system and reduce degenerative conditions.
Even though fresh and whole cherries are healthy for human consumption, they aren't beneficial to your dog. While cherry meat is safe to eat, there are more risks than benefits. Including cyanide poisoning, gastrointestinal blockage, choking hazard, esophagus damage, and lead obesity and diabetes.
If you aren't sure if you should or shouldn't feed cherries to your dog, speak with a veterinarian first. Alternatives to cherries, other delicious fruits like watermelon, pineapples, peaches, strawberries, bananas, and other fruits your dog can enjoy.