Cherries can be delicious snacks that pack a whole lot of nutrition. Known for extraordinary antioxidants, cherries can even be considered as one of the world’s healthiest foods.
As a lover of both cherries and your dog(s), it’s only fair to share with them. But as a responsible dog owner, the question you must ask is, can dogs eat cherries? Are cherries bad for your dog? Are there any side effects? All of these are excellent questions that you should be asking.
Yes, Dogs Can Eat the Flesh of Cherries.
There has been a lot of confusing information over the internet that contradicts one another about dog consumption of cherries. So, can dogs really eat them or not?
Although dogs can safely eat cherries in moderation, there are certain parts of the cherry that are poisonous. In fact, everything that isn’t the flesh of the cherry is toxic. This means that the seed, leaves and stem should be removed if you want to feed your dog some cherries.
The ASPCA has actually listed cherries on their list of unsafe foods for dogs because of those very reasons. But this isn’t to say that cherries cannot become safe for dogs with the right preparations.
There are tons of health benefits associated with cherries! And if you are willing to take a bit of time to properly prepare cherries for your dog, they can benefit from these highly nutritious fruits.
Health Benefits: Dogs and Cherries
Because cherries are so healthy for humans, wouldn’t it be just as healthy for dogs? Kind of. We don’t digest our foods exactly like a dog and we absorb nutrition from our foods differently.
However, dogs can still benefit from nutritious fruits like cherries. It may not be as beneficial for them, but there are several notable health benefits seen.
To examine the health benefits, let’s explore the nutritional value of cherries first.
In One Cup of Cherry (no seeds):
- 77 Calories
- Dietary Fiber – 10% DV (2.5 grams)
- Vitamin A – 39% DV
- Vitamin C – 25% DV
- Vitamin B6 – 5% DV
- Magnesium – 3% DV
- Potassium – 7% (268 mg)
- Sugar – 13 grams
- Protein – 3% DV (1.6 grams)
Cherries Improve a Dog’s Eyesight
Looking at the nutritional value of cherries, the one thing that sticks out is the Vitamin A. Just one cup of cherries contain roughly 39 percent of our recommended daily value of that vitamin! But what exactly does this vitamin do and how does it help your dog?
Consuming large quantities of Vitamin A can potentially improve the eyesight of both you and your dog. This is the perfect nutrition for older dogs that need help sharpening their aging vision.
Cherries Provide Dogs With Better Sleep
Do you often catch your dog awake in the middle of the night? But they seem lethargic and take random naps throughout the day? Unusual sleeping habits aren’t uncommon for dogs, but sleeping can be more regular.
One interesting fact about cherries is that they contain a natural chemical substance called melatonin. This substance is actually responsible for maintaining a healthy sleep cycle by regulating the dog’s circadian rhythm.
Although melatonin is naturally produced by dog, giving them cherries right before bedtime can normalize melatonin production at that time. This can lead to a normal sleep cycle with more restful sleep.
Cherries Improve Your Dog’s Brain Function
I’m not trying to claim that cherries are nootropics for dogs, but they do promote a healthy brain. They contain a powerful antioxidant called Anthocyanins, which are great for brain health.
In addition, these amazing antioxidants provide both dogs and human with better memory. An old dog suffering from memory loss can benefit from a few cherries served up a couple times per week.
There aren’t too many fruits with this special antioxidant. But you can still find them in red apples, strawberries and blackberries.
Cherries Help Fight Arthritis in Dogs
Arthritis is the medical condition where inflammation of one or more joints occur, causing stiffness and pain. Unfortunately, this can happen with dogs as well.
One relatively unknown benefits of cherries is that they have anti-inflammatory properties. That’s right, cherries can help fight arthritis in dogs and humans. However, it should be noted that only tart cherries can fight off inflammation. Sweet cherries (such as bing cherries) aren’t known to have this property.
This means that tart cherries for an dog with arthritis is a great idea. If your aging dog is active or you own an energetic dog breed, this fruit will be good for them too.
Cherries Have Cancer Preventive Compounds For Dogs
Just like humans, many dogs get diagnosed with cancer every year. It’s something no dog owner ever wants to hear. Although there’s no cure (yet), there are ways to try to prevent cancer in your dogs.
Among many other things, cherries can help prevent cancer. These fruits contain fiber, carotenoids, anthocyanins and vitamin C. All of which, play a role in preventing all types of cancers, according to the National Cherries Grower & Industries Foundation.
Side Effects of Cherries and Dogs
When it comes to cherries, there are really two things you need to really be aware of when feeding them to your dog. The first is preparation, or how you prepare a cherry for the dog. The second is moderation. Without moderation, the likelihood of side effects will increase.
Cyanide Poisoning From Cherries
The main reason why the ASPCA listed cherries as unsafe for dogs is because of the cyanide in the fruit. But, that’s not to say cyanide is everywhere in the fruit. In fact, cyanide can only be found in the seed (or pit), leaves and stem of cherries.
This means that only the actual flesh of the cherry is edible for dogs. Without removing everything besides the flesh, your dog will digest cyanide. Although a little bit of cyanide probably won’t phase your dog, the build up of it can cause serious dog health problems.
Don’t be lazy, just prepare the cherry properly.
Cherries Will Decay Dog’s Teeth
Looking at the nutritional value of cherries, a glaring number sticks out. It might be the only negative – sugar. A cup of cherries contain an alarming 13 grams of sugar! The only other dog-safe fruit with more sugar may be mangoes! (However, mangoes are excellent for your dog).
If you’re like me, you probably don’t brush your dog’s teeth every day. Or even every other day. The high concentration of sugar in cherries is not good for their teeth. Since most dogs don’t get their teeth brushed daily, large consumption of this fruit will certainly speed up tooth decay.
Upset Stomach in Dogs
Depending on how well your dog digests this fruit, they may or may not have mild (and sometimes severe) stomach pains. If you follow my advice and feed your dog cherries as seldom treats,this side effect won’t likely happen. But of course, there are always exceptions.
The more cherries your dog eats, the higher chance they will experience an upset stomach. You must know that dogs don’t digest fruits (and other human foods) as well as we do. Cherries are not the only fruits that may cause stomach pains. Nearly all fruits can cause this side effect, especially without moderation in mind.
Always observe your dog shortly after to see if they are exhibiting unusual behaviors, such as lack of energy. It may be a sign that they are experiencing some pains. At this point, just stop the cherry feeding and give them time to get over it.
Diarrhea From Cherries
Cherries contain about 2.5 grams of fiber per cup. This number isn’t excessive compared to other fruits out there (see: apples, bananas, oranges and strawberries).
A little fiber is no harm. In fact, it can help with digestion and loosen up the stool of your dog. But too much fiber can certainly cause diarrhea in humans and dogs. However, dogs can’t handle as much fiber as humans.
There’s a reason why the majority of the dog’s diet is made up of protein. Dogs don’t necessarily need as much fiber as humans do.
Preparing Cherries For Dogs to Eat
This is a crucial part to read if you plan to feed your dog some cherries. Remember how ASPCA listed this fruit on the unsafe list of foods for dogs? That’s because many owners don’t prepare cherries properly for their dog.
1. Wash the Cherries
I have heard of cases where neglectful dog owners feeding fruits without washing them. In some cases, nothing happens. But other times, it can cause serious health problems, like seizures.
2. Separate the Cherry Flesh
The next step is to remove the cherry stem, leaves (if any) and seed (or pit). Like with most fruits that hold a pit, the pit is toxic. Most of the time, the pit has cyanide. And that’s the case with cherries too.
The same goes for the stem and leaves. Dogs should not be eating anything that’s not the flesh of the cherries. Yes, it may take a little time to prepare, but without the proper preparation, cherries can be harmful.
3. How Much Cherry Can a Dog Eat?
Now you can finally feed the cherries to your dog. Always practice moderation by giving them cherries as seldom treats. Otherwise, many of the negative side effects we discussed may occur with your dog.
A couple servings per week should be more than enough for your dog to receive the health benefits of cherries. This is important, especially if you feed your dog other fruits and vegetables.
4. Observe Dog For Side Effects
Keep a keen eye on your dog immediately after the consumption of cherries. Try to observe them for at least 24 hours. If you see any unusual behaviors (lack of energy, too much energy, etc.) or change in stool habits, then contact your veterinarian or stop the cherry feeding.
If everything is fine, then your dog seems good to go! As long as there doesn’t seem to be any allergic reactions or negative side effects, your dog can eat prepared cherries.
Cherry Dog Treat Recipe
Want to get your dog to eat cherries but having a difficult time? The perfect solution: cherries in the form of a dog treat! This dog treat recipe is brought to you by the Doggy Dessert Chef.
¼ Cup of Dried Cherries
¼ Cup of Pumpkin Puree (optional, but tastier!)
¼ Cup of Oats
½ Cup of Brown Rice Flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Use a baking sheet with silicone baking mat (or something similar)
- Mix all ingredients thoroughly into a bowl (knead well)
- Roll the dough into half inch balls and position them roughly 2 inches apart on your baking sheet.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until the treats are golden and crisp.
- Put them in the refrigerator to cool down for a few minutes.
- Enjoy the cherry treats with your dog!
The Smart Canine is dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date information on caring for your dog. However, we cannot and don’t intent to replace professional advice from a vet. Although we have thoroughly researched on the consumption of cherries by dogs, consulting with a vet first is advised. Each dog is different and will react differently to cherry consumption.