Cherry trees are a beloved part of spring for many people. When they bloom and later bear sweet, delicious fruit, cherry trees seem like an idyllic addition to any backyard. However, many dog owners wonder – with their curious canine companions roaming around – are cherry trees poisonous to dogs?
An Overview of Cherry Tree Toxicity
There are over a thousand cultivars of cherry trees around the world. The most common types are sweet cherry trees that produce edible cherries. However, there are also bitter cherry tree varieties, as well as chokecherry, pin cherry, black cherry, and cherry laurel trees.
These trees all contain varying levels of cyanogenic glycosides – compounds that release cyanide when metabolized. The stems, leaves, bark, seeds, and pits of most cherry trees have these compounds, making them potentially dangerous for dogs if ingested.
However, the degree of toxicity depends highly upon the specific type of cherry tree:
|Type of Cherry Tree
|Most Dangerous Parts
|Very high toxicity
|Very high toxicity
|Very high toxicity
So in general, the fruits themselves from sweet cherry trees are not toxic to dogs. But the fruits, leaves, stems, bark, seeds, and pits from bitter, chokecherry, black cherry and cherry laurel trees can be very hazardous if enough quantity is consumed.
What Parts of Cherry Trees are Poisonous?
Although the specifics vary slightly among cherry tree types, these are some general guidelines:
The fleshy part of cherries from sweet cherry trees does not contain toxic compounds and eating cherry flesh is typically not dangerous for dogs. However, ingesting cherry pits can potentially cause intestinal obstruction or other digestion issues.
Fruits from bitter and wild cherry tree varieties contain higher concentrations of cyanide-producing compounds and can be poisonous.
Leaves, Stems, Bark
Most cherry tree leaves, stems and bark contain enough cyanogenic glycosides to be toxic for dogs if consumed in large quantities. The compounds release cyanide when metabolized, which prevents cells from absorbing oxygen.
Chokecherry, black cherry, and cherry laurel typically have the highest concentrations in their leaves and stems.
Seeds and Pits
The hard pits within cherries, as well as the seeds from cherry trees, contain a compound called amygdalin which metabolizes into hydrogen cyanide when ingested.
Cherry seeds and pits should be considered highly toxic to dogs. As few as 5 pits consumed can be lethal for smaller dog breeds. The pits can also cause iAre Cherry Trees Poisonous to Dogs?ntestinal obstructions.
Symptoms of Cherry Tree Poisoning in Dogs
If a dog ingests a toxic dose of any part of a cherry tree, they will usually display symptoms within the first 30-60 minutes.
Common symptoms of cherry tree poisoning in dogs include:
- Excessive drooling
- Dilated pupils
- Respiratory distress
- Bright red gums
- Panting or hyperventilation
- Difficulty breathing
- Fast heart rate
Any combination of these symptoms suggests urgent veterinary care is needed. The quicker cyanide poisoning is treated, the better the chances are for recovery.
Preventing Exposure to Poisonous Cherry Trees
The best way to keep dogs safe from cherry tree toxicity is to prevent access and minimize exposure risk:
- Supervise dogs when cherry trees are flowering or fruiting in your yard
- Consider fencing off cherry trees to block access
- Prune lower hanging branches that dogs could reach
- Avoid walking dogs places where fallen cherries may be laying the ground
- Contact your vet immediately if poisoning is suspected
What to do if Your Dog Ingests Parts of a Cherry Tree
If you witness your dog consuming any part of a cherry tree, or they display poisoning symptoms:
- Contact your veterinarian or emergency vet clinic immediately. The vet can induce vomiting if needed and provide the right treatment depending on symptoms. Quick action greatly improves prognosis.
- In the meantime, safely induce vomiting at home only if recommended by your vet. Give 1 teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution per 5 lbs of body weight using an oral syringe or turkey baster.
- Closely monitor your dog for distress or difficulty breathing. Perform CPR if breathing stops. Keep the dog as calm and rested as possible until you can get veterinary care.
With rapid veterinary treatment, dogs have good chances of recovery from cherry tree poisoning if they only ingested a small quantity. Exact prognosis and outcomes depends on how much was ingested and how quickly care was received.
In severe poisoning cases, cyanide binds to blood cells quickly, preventing oxygen transport. This leads to distress, shock, seizures, coma, and death without urgent, intensive veterinary treatment.
Key Takeaways on Cherry Trees and Dogs
To wrap up everything on whether cherry trees are poisonous for dogs:
- Most sweet cherry tree fruits are safe, but stems/leaves/pits contain toxic compounds
- Bitter, chokecherry, black cherry, and cherry laurel trees have high toxicity
- Cyanide poisoning causes fast respiratory failure if untreated
- Prevent access to minimize risk, supervise dogs outside
- Seek emergency vet care immediately after ingestion
With prompt veterinary treatment, dogs can fully recover from cherry tree poisoning. But preventing exposure in the first place is always the priority for their safety around these potentially dangerous plants.