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Wondering if your dog can enjoy a handful of fresh, juicy cherries? While dogs can technically eat cherries, this doesn’t mean they should. There are parts of cherries that can cause severe health complications for your dog. As a pet owner, you should be very careful if you decide to share a cherry with your pup. Read on to learn more about what makes cherries a less desirable option for dogs.

Why Are Cherries Bad for Dogs?

While cherries aren’t necessarily bad for dogs, the risks outweigh the reward. In short, the high sugar content and toxins in the seeds can cause an array of complications, and certain parts of the cherry can poison your dog. Because of this, it’s best to avoid them altogether if possible.

The risks of dogs eating cherries

There are several risks associated with dogs eating cherries. The pit of a cherry has the potential to cause an intestinal blockage, or pose a choking hazard. The cherry flesh could upset your dog’s stomach. Cherries, especially maraschino cherries, are also very high in sugar. However, the primary danger with dogs eating cherries is cherry pit poisoning.

Cherry Pit Poisoning

Cherry pit poisoning occurs when a dog eats cherry pits. These pits, along with some other fruit pits, contain cyanide, a chemical compound that acts quickly and can be deadly to both dogs and humans. Cyanide is also found in the stem and leaves of the fruit.

What are the symptoms of cherry pit poisoning?

The symptoms of cherry pit poisoning or cyanide poisoning in dogs include:3

●      Excitability

●      Rapid breathing and heartbeat

●      Drooling

●      Watery eyes

●      Vomiting

●      Muscle spasms

●      Seizures

●      Convulsions

Symptoms can vary based on your pet’s size and how many cherry pits they ingested. The most severe cases of pit poisoning include seizures or convulsions. These symptoms may appear anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours after your dog consumes cherry pits, stems, or leaves.

What should I do if I think my dog has cherry pit poisoning?

If you think your dog has cherry pit poisoning, you should contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately and follow their instructions. If possible, take your dog to the nearest emergency clinic for an assessment. Cyanide poisoning can be lethal, so it’s important to get treatment for your pet as soon as you can.4

Can Dogs Have Maraschino Cherries?

Maraschino cherries don’t have pits, meaning they don’t contain the dangerous cyanide that other cherries have.5 However, these preserved cherries contain added sugars and artificial sweeteners. This excess sugar means maraschino cherries aren’t a good idea for dogs, either. Also, some maraschino cherries could also contain additives or flavorings that aren’t harmful to humans but could be harmful to your pooch.

Are There Any Benefits Dogs Can Get From Cherries?

Technically, cherries do have some nutritional benefits.6 This fruit is filled with fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. It’s also packed with antioxidants that help fight diseases. That said, your dog probably won’t benefit from eating the fruit.

Because cherries are so high in sugar, you should only give your dog one or two cherries at a time (making sure to remove the pit, stem, and leaves). This small amount likely won’t be enough for your dog to reap any real nutritional benefits, so it’s not really worth the effort to prepare the cherries for your dog. It’s best to opt for a more nutritional alternative.

Alternatives to Cherries

If you want to give your dog a delicious treat, consider choosing a different fruit or vegetable instead of cherries. Fruits dogs can eat include:

  • Bananas: Bananas are a great once-in-a-while treat full of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
  • Watermelon: Fresh, frozen, or pureed watermelon provides your dog with fiber, potassium, and vitamins.
  • Apples: While you’ll need to keep portion sizes small (one to three slices), apples are a good treat for your dog.

Are Cherries Really Worth the Risk to Your Dog?

If you do decide to feed your dog a cherry, you will need to carefully remove the pit, stem, and leaves in their entirety. That’s a lot of effort, so it’s probably better to stick to safer fruits that your dog will enjoy just as much.

We do our best to keep dangerous substances like cherry pits away from our pets, but sometimes our dogs get into things we don’t want them to have. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared for every situation, including pet poisoning. MetLife1 Pet Insurance is on your side to help you feel peace of mind by providing coverage for vet bills if your dog has an emergency. Learn more about MetLife dog insurance and what your options are.2

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 “Cyanide Poisoning,” Merck Manual

4 “Cherry,” Pet Poison Hotline

5 “Can Dogs Have Cherries?,” American Kennel Club

6 “7 Impressive Health Benefits of Cherries,” Healthline