The short answer is no, but it’s more complicated than that. Some parts of the cherry are safe for dogs, while others are toxic.
Certain foods, like bananas and carrots, are a good treat option for dogs. Meanwhile, cherries and other foods like grapes, onions and chocolate are hazardous to your dog’s health and can cause anything from an upset stomach to fatal poisoning.
Our experts explain why dogs and cherries don’t mix and offer safer alternatives to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Why are Cherries Bad for Dogs?
Cherries are harmful for dogs primarily because the pit, leaves and stem contain cyanide, which is toxic to dogs. Further, the pit can potentially cause an intestinal blockage.
The cyanide found within cherries is toxic to dogs if ingested in large enough quantities. A single cherry pit or stem often isn’t enough to cause cyanide poisoning, but there’s no reason to take the risk. Additionally, if ingested, the cherry pits can be a choking hazard or create an intestinal obstruction.
While the flesh of the cherry contains vitamins A and C, fiber and antioxidants, it’s also been known to cause upset stomach in dogs.
Can Dogs Have Cherries of Any Kind?
You should not feed any kind of cherry to a dog. There are many different types of cherries out there, including bing, rainier, black and maraschino. Although maraschino cherries don’t have a pit, they contain a lot of sugar, which isn’t suitable for dogs.
“It’s not a good idea to offer your dog any canned fruits since they have added sugars and preservatives,” says Purina Nutritionist Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS. Excess sugar can lead to diabetes, obesity, digestive upset and even cavities.
You could feed your dog a fresh cherry, but you’d have to remove the pit, stem and any leaves first. That’s a lot of work, considering your dog won’t eat enough to see any benefits from the fruit.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats a Whole Cherry
Accidents happen, so it’s not unreasonable to think your dog might eat a whole cherry (or more). Fortunately, one or two cherries—pit and all—aren’t likely to cause them harm. They may have a mild reaction and have an upset stomach or diarrhea.
Even if he only eats one or two cherries, watch for signs of intestinal blockage, such as constipation, decreased appetite and vomiting. An intestinal blockage from a single cherry pit is more likely to affect a small dog, but you should watch large dogs, too.
If your dog ate a handful or more of cherries, be alert for signs of cyanide poisoning, including trouble breathing, red gums and dilated pupils. Whether they show any symptoms or not, please call your veterinarian for further instruction.
Are There Safer Alternatives?
Yes. While cherries, for dogs, are not a good option, there are plenty of other fresh fruits and berries your dog can eat without the above risks. Blueberries are a great choice, as are peeled and pitted mangoes and apples without the core and seeds.
Of course, when in doubt, you can always stick with traditional dog treats, which your dog will probably find just as exciting and tasty as fresh fruit.