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What is Apricot Poisoning?

Apricot poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs ingest the seed for seeds of the apricot. Apricot belongs to the same genera, known as Prunus, along with fruits such as the cherry, chokecherry, peach and almond. The pits of the apricot contain cyanide, which is highly poisonous to dogs. Cyanides are specific chemicals that are in the group known as the cyano group. In the cyano group, each carbon atom possesses three chemical bonds to the nitrogen atom. Many cyanides are in the form of a gas; however, some cyanides come in liquid or solid form. In nature, cyanides come from specific types of fungi, algae, and bacteria. These are found in certain plants. Plants containing cyanides have this defense in order to prevent animals from eating them; it acts as a natural defense.

Apricot poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs ingest the seed of an apricot. The seed of an apricot contains a poisonous chemical, called cyanide, which can lead to severe sickness or even death if untreated.

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Symptoms of Apricot Poisoning in Dogs

If your dog ingests cyanide, symptoms can begin as early as 15 minutes afterwards or may not begin for a few hours. Symptoms can include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Right red mucus membranes
  • Convulsions which can lead to death
  • Aggression
  • Bloody stools
  • Spasms of different limbs
  • Weakness
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Diarrhea

Types

There are several different substances in nature that contain cyanide and should be avoided by dogs. Although many fruits and some vegetables are known to have cyanide, the lethal amounts of cyanide do not necessarily occur within the edible parts. The bark of the trees, seeds, and leaves contain the natural toxin. Types of natural substances that contain cyanide include: 

  • Almonds
  • Apples
  • Lima beans
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Barley
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Cherries
  • Flaxseed
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Causes of Apricot Poisoning in Dogs

The cause of apricot poisoning in dogs is the ingestion of the apricot seed, which contains the toxic chemical.

  • Cyanide is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract
  • There is tissue death due to lowering of oxygen
  • The heartt and brain are susceptible
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Diagnosis of Apricot Poisoning in Dogs

If you suspect your loved one may have cyanide poisoning due to the ingestion of apricot seed, you must get him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. The veterinarian may ask questions that pertain to the onset of symptoms, the amount of apricot eaten, the time frame of when they were ingested, and any other questions that will help the veterinarian with the diagnosis. The medical professional, if there is time (this depends on your dog’s condition), will do a complete examination with blood work, urinalysis, and any other tests he feels is necessary to help him make a definitive diagnosis.

The amount of time the veterinarian feels he has to make the diagnosis will depend on the level of poisoning at that time. Your dog may be already exhibiting serious symptoms, such as convulsions, hyperventilation, trouble breathing, and tremors. Characteristic of cyanide poisoning are blood-red mucus membranes. 

The veterinarian will need to take diagnostic specimens of the stomach to check for HCN in the contents of the stomach. To do so, the medical professional will need to wear protective gear and possibly a respirator when collecting any samples of the stomach contents due to the levels of cyanide. Trocarization is a test in which a sterile instrument is used to withdraw any fluid from the cavity of a body, in this case the stomach, to test for cyanide poisoning. There are other ways to test for cyanide poisoning, such as using a detection tube which is placed in the stomach to withdraw fluid for testing.

Once the physician is aware of the history, the clinical signs, and the finding of hydrocyanic acid in any specimens taken including from the stomach, liver, blood, and the muscles and tissues of your dog it is important to act very quickly to treat your pet. The physician may have given your dog an effective antidote for the poisoning; sodium thiosulfate and sodium nitrate can be successful if given in time. Oxygen therapy may also be given along with the antidote. Most animal species, including dogs, have a normal rate of cyanide in the blood of less than 0.5 mcg/mL. Any amount of cyanide above approximately 3 mcg/mL can be lethal; however, it depends on the size, health, and age of the dog.

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Treatment of Apricot Poisoning in Dogs

Treatment must begin immediately; it is important to stop the bonding of cyanide-cytochrome c oxidase and to reestablish the mitochondrial electron transport chain through the membranes. The veterinarian may induce Fe3 into the hemoglobin, give and intravenous injection of nitrates, and give your dog inhaled amyl nitrates to be a decoy chemical receptor for the cyanide.

Inhalation of Nitrates

The veterinarian should give your dog 0.3mL of amyl nitrate as soon as he recognizes cyanide poisoning, preferably very soon after ingesting the apricot seed.

Detoxification

The physician will detoxify by using thiocyanate or rhodanese through intravenous fluids. This will be done in addition to treatment with nitrates.

Sodium Thiosulfate

 

An oral dosage of sodium thiosulfate may be given to your dog orally to stop any cyanide production within the stomach.

Other Antidotes

Hydroxocobalamin is another antidote for cyanide poisoning. It is effective in detoxifying cyanide by binding to the cyanide and forming another receptor, which is actually a decoy. Sulfanegen is another antidote that acts as a decoy receptor as well. There are other antidotes that are still being researched by the FDA to ensure effectiveness without severe side effects. It is important to understand that antidotes for cyanide are toxic and must be used with caution.

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Recovery of Apricot Poisoning in Dogs

Recovery depends on the seriousness of the poisoning in the time it took for your dog to receive medical treatment. Cyanide toxicity can be lethal if left untreated; with immediate treatment the prognosis can be fair to good. Your veterinarian will give you specific instructions on how to care for your pet at home after any medical procedures or treatment have been completed. For some dogs, recovery from cyanide poisoning may take longer than others, and your veterinarian will give you a time frame of recovery. If you see any behavioral changes in your companion or have any questions about the after-care once you are home, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

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Apricot Poisoning Average Cost

From 30 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$650

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Apricot Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Yorkshire Terrier

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

Ate an undisclosed number of seedless apricots

Oct. 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. An 'undisclosed number' may cause significant GI upset. If your small dog is vomiting and showing signs of intestinal disease, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 20, 2020

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terrier

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

Years ago I had a terrier who began developing welts, boils, cist, I am not sure what they were. He had them for over a year. We took him to 3 different vets and they all told us there was nothing they could do for him. They smelled like "death" and he licked toe ones he could reach. We had 2 apricot trees and towards the end of the season he began eating the pits. He would crack them open and eat the insides. Within 4 to 6 weeks all the lesions were gone and never came back. He had a major stroke at 16.The research I have done all tells me the pits are poisonous. Ay thoughts?

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. It seems possible if he was eating a low level all the time that they may have had an effect on him - I believe they can cause some photosensitivity.

Oct. 15, 2020

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Great Pyrenees

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Eight Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

White Vomit

She has vomited 2 white vomit nothing in it

July 16, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If she ate an apricot pit, there is a risk of a foreign body or GI upset. If she continues to vomit, or is lethargic, or has diarrhea or a loss of appetite, then it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. They can examine her, see if she has a problem, and let you know what treatment options are available after they know more. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 16, 2020

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Rhodesian Ridgeback

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Seizure

Our dog scared us to death today when he had a seizure. We had never experienced anything like it before and we thought we had lost him for good. Thankfully, he seems fine now. We tried to figure out what could have caused it but now that i found this article i realised that he ate apricots today. Nobody knows how much but he could have eaten a decent amount. We have a couple apricot trees. Could it have been from the apricots? Should we go get him checked out? He also coughed up a bloody granule when we fed him afterwards probably accidentally inhaled it it happens but the blood is concerning

July 12, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. This could be from the apricots but it could be something else. It is always a good idea to have him checked out by your vet after a seizure. I am concerned with the blood. I think it would be a great idea to have him looked at by your vet.

July 12, 2020

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Keewi

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Pomchi

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

I think my dog just ate an apricot seed. My dad was eating apricots in the living room and while i left my dog unattended I think he ate one. When i went to see what he was doing, he had one in his mouth, but i quickly wrestled it away from him. However, my dad ate two and I could only find the one apricot seed. Therefore, I think that my dog ate the first one. He usually chews stuff that are too big to swallow so I don't think he swallowed it whole. But it was just one apricot seed, should I be worried? I am kinda freaking out because I want to take him to a dog hospital but I don't have enough money to take him. He is kind of on the smaller side of dogs but he isn't tiny like a Chihuahua.

July 1, 2018

Keewi's Owner


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0 Recommendations

Generally you would see symptoms of poisoning within a few hours of ingestion, the problem with apricot seeds is that the toxin present varies from apricot to apricot so it is difficult to know when a concerning about has been consumed or not. You should monitor Keewi for the time being, but generally we would have expected to see a symptom by now (it’s been nine hours since your question); if you have any doubts or symptoms present, you should visit a Veterinarian or alternatively call the Pet Poison Helpline. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/apricot/

July 1, 2018

yea it happened around 12:30 am and it is now 11:20 am and we don’t see any symptoms. he hasn’t thrown up, still plays normal, no blood in his stool, no diarrhea, no drooling, etc. he still acts the same. how long should i be worried about it or are we pretty much in the clear?

July 1, 2018

Keewi's Owner

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Leo

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Bully

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5 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

We used some almond and apricot oil mix on his paws and he licked some and off of our hands now seems to have diarrhea and was drooling but he always drools somewhat it has been about an hour since in ingested the oil. Should I be worried?

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Bryn

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Catahoula Leopard Dog

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Drooling
Fatigue

6 year old female catahoula got into a bag of dried apricots, I have counted approximately two dozen undigested apricots. She got into them about 8 hours ago and just started vomiting.

Apricot Poisoning Average Cost

From 30 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$650

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