The stems, seeds and leaves of cherries contain a cyanide compound. Cyanide binds with an enzyme involved in cellular oxygen transport. In the altered state, the enzyme will not function properly in transporting oxygen across cellular membranes. As a result, hemoglobin cannot release oxygen to the cells, and cellular respiration can not occur. All types of cherries including chokecherries, black cherries and the cherry laurel contain the cyanide compound.
Safe for Dogs?
No, Not recommended
Although cherries are considered a super food in the human diet, they are not necessary for dogs. Because they contain cyanide, the stems, seeds and leaves of the cherry tree or shrub are poisonous to dogs if they eat enough of them. Dogs do not know to stop eating when they get to the core or pit, and as a result they will eat the fruit, seed, stem and leaf if they are available to them. Do not leave unpitted cherries with or without stems out on the counter or in a place that your dog can access. If you have a chokecherry or other cherry tree or shrub on your property, you want to make sure your dog does not ingest any fruit that falls to the ground.
Ailments, Diseases, Damage:
Cyanide results in damage at the cellular level because it inhibits oxygen across the cell membrane. Without oxygen, cells cannot function properly and will die.
Diagnosis, Clinical Signs, Symptoms:
Dogs that ingest cherries and their seeds, stems and leaves are often found dead. Other signs you may observe include dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation, bright red gums, excitement or apprehensiveness, muscle tremors, diarrhea and shock. If you observe these signs and see remains of cherries, leaves or stems you should suspect poisoning from this plant.
If Your Dog Eats Cherries:
If you suspect your dog has eaten cherries, immediately remove any remaining cherries and plant parts and contact your veterinarian. If you act quickly, your veterinarian may be able to counteract the cyanide with sodium nitrate and sodium thiosulfate. Sodium nitrate helps break the bond cyanide forms with the cellular enzyme. Next sodium thiosulfate will react with the cyanide to form a new compound that is excreted in the urine. The amount of the toxin your dog ingested will impact the chances that treatment succeeds.