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What is Cherry Poisoning?

Cherry trees are used as ornamental trees or as trees to help break the wind. They are members of the Prunus species, which include the chokecherry, peach, apricot, and the cherry laurel. The toxins of the cherry tree are not found within the actual fruit, but in the leaves and the seeds. Not only do the leaves and seeds of the cherry contain cyanide, a deadly agent, the seeds can cause obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract. Cyanide is a chemical that can prove deadly if ingested. Cyanide can be found in the forms of gas and salt crystals, and both forms are highly toxic. Cyanide is not only found in the seeds of specific fruit, but also in materials that are man-made. Cyanide is a known agent in cigarette smoke, extermination products, and plastic that is burning.

Cherry poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs eat various types of cherries’ leaves and seeds. Cherry seeds contain the chemical cyanide that is highly toxic to dogs.

Cherry Poisoning Average Cost

From 45 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Cherry Poisoning in Dogs

Unfortunately, dogs that ingest cherry seeds may collapse and die from the time period of minutes to hours. Symptoms of cherry poisoning include:

  • Bright red mucous membranes
  • Hyperventilation
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Tremors
  • Collapse
  • Death

Types

Cyanide poisoning can occur not only from ingesting cherries seeds, but also other natural foods. Types of other natural foods that contain this toxic substance are:

  • Fruits with pits (cherries, almonds, peaches)
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Elderberry
  • Various forms of grass
  • Clover
  • Legumes (vetches)
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Causes of Cherry Poisoning in Dogs

The main cause of cherry poisoning in dogs is from the ingestion of the cyanide-containing seeds of the cherry. The hydrogen cyanide produced by the cherry tree is a natural deterrent to protect itself. Causes can include:

  • Natural production of the hydrogen cyanide to protect against herbivores
  • The storage of the cyanide by the tree in an inactive form, waiting to be activated by predator
  • When a leaf is chewed upon by the dog, cyanogenic glycoside immediately combines with an enzyme to activate it, causing the poisonous agent to form
  • Once ingested, cells are not able to use oxygen to convert food to energy, thus causing a form of asphyxiation
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Diagnosis of Cherry Poisoning in Dogs

Since cyanide poisoning can be lethal, it is important to get to the veterinarian or emergency veterinarian very quickly. If you know that your dog has consumed cherries it is vital to tell the veterinarian approximately how many were ingested and how much time has passed since he consumed them. The veterinarian may do a urinalysis, blood work, along with a complete examination. The blood work may show the amount of cyanide being above 3 mcg/mL. If this is the case, treatment will need to be started immediately, as this amount can prove lethal. 

If your dog is having severe clinical signs of cyanide poisoning, namely tremors, hyperventilation, convulsions, difficulty breathing, or mucus membranes that are bright red, the veterinarian will need to assess the situation and begin treatment. Diagnostic specimens of the fluid of the stomach will effectively check for HCN. When the veterinarian is collecting food from the stomach by way of trocarization, he will need to wear safety gear and respirator due to the cyanide gas. Using a detection tube may also collect fluid from the stomach.

The physician may also test samples of tissue from the liver and stomach. While the veterinarian is running tests, he may give an antidote along with oxygen therapy. Successful antidote may include sodium thiosulfate or sodium nitrate.

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Treatment of Cherry Poisoning in Dogs

Since the bonding of the chemical compound of cyanide must be stopped as soon as possible, treatment will be the top priority at this point. The induction of Fe3 into the dog’s hemoglobin, in addition to IV fluids with nitrates along with amyl nitrates that are inhaled will be a good start towards recovery. 

Inhalation of Nitrates

Amyl nitrate and sodium nitrate are effective antidotes of cyanide poisoning. Many times this is one of the first actions the veterinarian takes when a dog is brought in after ingesting cherries or other toxic fruit seeds. 

Detoxification

Thiocyanate and rhodanese aid in detoxifying dogs that have been poisoned. Either one of these methods of detoxification are given through IV fluids.

Sodium Thiosulfate

 

Sodium thiosulfate may be given to the dog orally. Sodium thiosulfate helps halt any more production of cyanide in the dog. Sodium thiosulfate is effective in assisting the cells to convert the cyanide into a specific type that can help the body remove it by way of urination. 

Other Antidotes

There are other antidotes that the veterinarian may use to detoxify cyanide by helping it form another receptor, making it equally. Antidotes are currently being researched for effectiveness and safety.

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Recovery of Cherry Poisoning in Dogs

If your dog has consumed cherry seeds and does not have time to get to the veterinarian, the prognosis poor. If your dog is able to receive medical attention in time, the treatment methods are quite effective. It is important to always keep a watchful eye over your dog, especially if he goes outdoors in the midst of cherry trees (or other specific fruit trees).

Once your dog is home from treatment, the veterinarian will provide you with the information you need to take care of your dog effectively. In terms of medications, the medical professional will communicate with you the importance of sticking to a schedule and giving the correct dose. When you are home, it is important to keep an eye on your loved one for any behavioral changes for new symptoms need to be addressed with the physician as soon as possible.

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Cherry Poisoning Average Cost

From 45 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$250

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Cherry Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Terrier

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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my dog ate 10-20 cherry pits. He is around 14 pounds. What precautions should I take? Make him vomit? If so, how? Push fluids or food to dilute?

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. That is quite a few cherry pits, and there is a concern for an intestinal blockage more than a toxicity, I would think. If it has been less than two hours, it would probably be best to have the dog seen by a veterinarian to induce vomiting, and if it has been more than two hours, the best thing to do would likely be to watch for any signs of distress. If the dog is vomiting, has diarrhea, has a loss of appetite or lethargy, then having them seen by a veterinarian right away would be a good idea. There is a chance that they will pass the cherry pits uneventfully, and I think keeping a very close eye over the next 48 to 72 hours would be best. I hope that all goes well.

Aug. 7, 2020

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Shiba Inu

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One Year

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i found my dog chewing on cherry pits

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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If your dog ate or chewed on enough cherry pits, there may be a toxicity for your dog. If you notice any signs of vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, Dilated pupils, rapid heart rate, or instability, it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian right away. I hope that everything goes well.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Beagle

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One Year

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N/A

My dog who is about 35lbs ate about 15 cherry pits. About 3 or more hours ago. He’s not showing any symptoms and is still his rambunctious self. Please email and do not use phone number. Thank you

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Thank you for your question. There are two concerns with eating cherry pits. The first concern is that if chewed into and ingested the pit does contain some toxic substance in it that can make him sick. Secondly with that many pits I am also concerned that there’s a potential that they could cause an obstruction in his G.I. tract necessitating surgery to remove them. I would recommend heading to your veterinarian or a veterinary ER so they can assess him and perform an x-ray to monitor for signs of obstruction. Depending on where the pits are they may be able to induce vomiting if they are still in the stomach. Take care!

July 31, 2020

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Pitbull Mix

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Three Years

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My dog just ate a cherry pit. Just one. Ate whole. What should be do?

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. 1 cherry pit should not cause any toxicity, and the likelihood of a foreign body or obstruction is very low. I think that your dog will be fine, but it would be best to monitor for any signs of vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy. If any of those happen, it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian. I do think that your dog will be okay though.

July 28, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Four Years

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My 63 pound pit bull chewed a cherry pit. I was able to get most of it out of his mouth, but I am sure he swallowed some. Is half a chewed cherry pit going to harm him?

July 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. There are toxins in cherry pits, especially when they are chewed vs. swallowed whole, but 1/2 a cherry pit in a large dog should not be problematic. I would monitor him for signs of anxiety, dilated pupils, fast heart rate, or vomiting or diarrhea, and have him seen by a veterinarian right away if you notice any of those signs. I suspect he will be okay.

July 15, 2020

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Rusty

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Jack Russell

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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Lethargy
Stiffness

Rusty, my 20 lb jack russell mix, ate a piece of apple core around noon yesterday, and by 8 pm he was stiff and lethargic. Could he have been poisoned??? He has shown little improvement through the night, although he did wag his tail at me when I went to check on him. Help!!!

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Cora

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German Shepherd

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13 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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None So Far

Help!! My 14 pound German Shepard puppy just ate at least 20 cherry pits. What do I do! She just did it but I’m terrified of what symptoms she may get and scared it may cause death. PLEASE HELP

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Ralph

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jack russell mix

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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Our Jack Russell/Heinz 57 Small Dog Mix Ralph has chewed on the cherry leaves and twigs as long as we’ve had him (6 months). He thinks it’s a fun game. We just recently ID’d the tree as cherry because he wouldn’t leave it alone. Now the tree has dropped fruit, which it never did before, and he keeps trying to eat them. It’s gotten to the point where we can’t even let him loose in the yard to play because he just beelines straight to the fruit which drops over half our yard. The fruits are tiny and mostly pit, nothing like the cultivated varieties. He ate one over the weekend and we made him throw it up with hydrogen peroxide, as directed by our vet. My concern is him eating a couple fruits or more without us realizing it. He has never shown any symptoms of poisoning. He’s about 15 lbs so I don’t know how many seeds it would take to be dangerous at his size.

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Kenny Rogers

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Husky

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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Earlier this evening my dog was licking up some saw dust from cherry lumber and now he is lethargic, hot, has his tail tucked, and will hardly get up. Do you think the cherry lumber dust caused this? What can we do?

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Cap

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English Mastiff

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7 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Mild Vomiting

Our 7 month old Mastiff puppy demolished a cherry bush that was about 3 ft high (A new type of bush from Canad a that does not grow into a tree). He threw up his breakfast but shows other symptoms. How toxic are the twigs and wood? The twigs had buds for new leaf growth on them.

Cherry Poisoning Average Cost

From 45 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$250

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