Summer is here and suddenly we seem to be eating more fruit and veggies than usual; heavy dinners are swapped for light salads, as it seems to be the only food we feel like eating on very hot days, and fruit and berries become the standard dessert.
Many of us have fruit trees growing in the garden, and for dog owners – this means an additional responsibility, and a need to figure out what is safe for dogs to eat and what isn’t. One thing to consider is cherries, and whether it is okay for dogs to have a couple of cherries every now and then, or if it is better to avoid it.
For those who grow cherries in their yard, it also becomes essential to know how cherries affect dogs because your dog might be munching on cherries whenever given a chance, even if you have never seen it. Are cherries safe for dogs? Let’s have a look.
Cherry Pros & Cons
The flesh of the cherries is not dangerous or toxic to dogs, and most dogs can eat cherry flesh without it causing any negative effects. It is packed with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and other antioxidants, which are all essential nutrients in a dog’s diet.
For some dogs, however, cherries could potentially cause stomach upset – especially if they are known for having a sensitive stomach or for being sensitive to new foods – so you shouldn’t be too surprised if cherry flesh would end up causing diarrhea. This is usually if consumed in large quantities, and a couple of cherries (stem and pit removed) do not tend to cause any issues.
Gastrointestinal upset is not fun for your dog nor for you, as you could end up with a dog that asks to go outside every few minutes to relieve itself, so cherries should perhaps not be your top pick for a summer snack, even though it is not a disaster if your pooch should get their adorable paws on one by accident.
Pits & Stems
The stem and the pit of the cherry are more problematic, because like other fruits like an apple – they contain a small amount of cyanide. Cyanide is a toxin that could be dangerous for both humans and dogs, but there is no need to freak out if your pup accidentally ingested a stem or a pit.
There is not enough cyanide in these to cause serious issues in smaller quantities, but it could have an effect on your dog’s health if consumed in larger amounts. To put it simply: There is no need to worry if your dog ate that cherry you dropped on the floor with pit and all, but if you have a cherry tree in the garden from which your dog frequently snatches cherries – you might want to watch out for symptoms of cyanide poisoning.
The pit of the cherry could also cause internal blockage, especially in small dogs, and it is one of the reasons to why many experts advice against giving cherries to our best fur friend, and recommend us using other alternatives instead (there are many fruits and vegetables that can provide the same nutrients but without the potential risks).
Dogs should be kept away from the stem and pit of cherries, if possible, so consider putting up a fence or netting around any cherry trees your dog has access to, and keep cherries stored in places where your dog can’t get to them.
While one cherry pit might be unlikely to cause issues, there is no good reason for why you should take the risk. The cherry itself is not bad for a dog, but the stem and the pit area.
Are Some Cherries Safe?
As you may know, there is more than just one type of cherry, so it is natural to wonder if perhaps some cherries are better than others, or if all cherries could present a health risk for our dogs! The Maraschino cherry – the bright red berry is often seen in drinks or on pastries – does not have a pit, so could it potentially be a safer and better cherry for dogs to eat? The answer is no, not really.
These (along with other cherries that have had the pit and stem removed) may be free from what presents the biggest health risk to dogs, but Maraschino cherries are very high in sugar, something that could cause a whole different set of issues.
Too much sugar has both long-term and short-term effects in canines, and in the best-case scenario – it may cause gastrointestinal upset, and in the worst-case scenario (and with long-term use) – obesity and weight gain, or diabetes.
It is also a bad idea to give your dog human foods that contain cherries, as these are usually enhanced with additional sugar and additives, which could cause the above-described side-effects or worse. If you feel you must give your dog cherries, stick to the natural berry and remove the stem and the pit before handing it to your pup.
When to Contact a Veterinarian
If your dog has consumed an unknown amount of cherries, you may want to reach out to a veterinarian for further advice. As previously mentioned, the pits can cause an internal blockage (the risk increases the smaller the dog is), and there is that small but extremely serious risk of cyanide poisoning.
Stay vigilant of your dog’s physical condition after consuming cherries, and rush straight to the vet if you notice any unusual behaviors or signs of illness or distress.
Cherries, or at least not the flesh, are not bad for dogs, but there is no secret that there are also much better alternatives. Blueberries contain the same basic nutrients as a cherry – they are packed with antioxidants – yet they have no stem nor pits that could cause harm to your dog.
They can get a little messy though, so perhaps you shouldn’t let your fur friend have blueberries on your new carpet or up on the couch, but other than that – they make a great snack! Why feed cherries that could potentially have some health risks when you can use other risk-free an equally nutritious foods as treats instead?