Can Dogs Eat Cherries? Human Foods for Dogs · The Wildest

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Can My Dog Eat This?

Can Dogs Eat Cherries?

Find out if the yummy fruit is safe to share.

by Dr. Amy Fox, DVM
March 13, 2024
Woman holding basket of cherries next to large brown dog.
Joe+Kathrina / Stocksy

Life may be a bowl of cherries, but can you share them with your favorite pup? Yes, you can. As long as you offer them in moderation and keep a few words of wisdom in mind, your dog can enjoy the occasional cherry for a snack.

Cherries are not only sweet and delicious but contain many important nutrients, some of which can benefit your dog as well. Read on to learn all about sharing cherries with your pup. 

Nutrition facts about cherries for dogs

Cherries are fruits that grow on trees of the Prunus genus, which also includes other fruits like plums, peaches, pears, and apricots. There are at least 32 known varieties of cherries, including a few that grow wild. The most common cherries available commercially include sweet cherries like Bing cherries and tart cherries, like Montmorency cherries.

Cherries are often touted as a superfood for being little nutritional powerhouses. Some of their best benefits include their high fiber content, vitamins like A, C, and E, potent antioxidants, important minerals, and even melatonin, which promotes quality sleep. Many of these nutrients can also benefit your pup. Because cherries are also high in sugar, they should only be offered as the occasional treat.

Are cherries good for dogs?

Cherries can provide valuable nutrients to dogs; however, they are also high in sugar and should only be shared occasionally. Because dogs have specific nutritional requirements, they need to get the bulk of their diet from a complete and balanced dog food diet. If they are eating a balanced diet, they will be getting adequate amounts of all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that they need to be strong and healthy. Any potential benefits from treats and table scraps are really just an added bonus. Some of the benefits that cherries provide include:

  • Minerals: Cherries contain potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium, all of which are critical minerals for daily function. These minerals play a role in many different biological processes including muscle function, heart health, blood pressure regulation, bone health, and normal production and function of red blood cells. 

  • Vitamins: Cherries also provide vitamins A, C, and E. While dogs do not need to get vitamin C from their diet, they can benefit from vitamin A which is important for eye health along with healthy bones and white blood cells. They also need vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant.  

  • Fiber: Cherries contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. These carbohydrates are not digested but help to prevent constipation, provide important nutrients to the gut microbiome, bulk up the stool, and create feelings of fullness.

  • Antioxidants: Cherries are a great source of antioxidants. They contain compounds like anthocyanins and flavonoids, which work to prevent cell damage from free radicals and may be protective against certain diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and some effects of aging. 

  • Melatonin: Interestingly, cherries also contain melatonin, which is sometimes used as a supplement to promote restful sleep and to reduce anxiety. Melatonin does have an effect on dogs as well as humans. 

Can dogs eat whole cherries? 

Dogs should not eat whole cherries for a number of reasons. First, like many fruits in the Prunus genus, their pits, leaves, and stems contain a toxic compound called amygdalin, a cyanogenic glycoside, which can cause cyanide poisoning in large amounts. The pits need to be chewed or ground up to release the toxin, so if a dog swallows one whole, it would not cause a problem. In most cases, dogs will not eat nearly enough to get sick, but it is a good idea to avoid pits as well as the other parts of the plant since these can also contain the toxin, especially if they are wilting.

Ingesting large amounts of cherry pits can also put dogs at risk for digestive upset and intestinal blockages if the pits cannot pass through the intestines, so this is yet another good reason to keep them out of reach. Plus, eating whole cherries, especially if they are firm and not completely ripe can be a choking hazard. If you do want to share the occasional cherry with your dog, remove the stems, leaves, and pits first and cut it into bite-sized pieces.  

Are cherries completely safe for dogs?

The fruit of the cherry is safe for dogs in moderation. There are a few important points to keep in mind when considering sharing cherries with your dog:

  • High in fiber: Cherries contain lots of fiber, so if your dog is not used to eating a lot of fibrous foods, it is best to go slow and offer just a small amount at first. Too much fiber introduced suddenly can lead to digestive upset including bloating, diarrhea, and gas.

  • High sugar content: Because cherries contain a lot of sugar, they should only be offered as a small treat occasionally. Large amounts of sugar can lead to weight gain and related health problems including diabetes and arthritis. Prepared foods containing cherries often have even more sugar than the plain fruit, especially products like maraschino cherries and cherry pie filling, so be wary of these.

  • Cyanide toxicity: The leaves, stems, and pits of the fruit all contain a compound called amygdalin which can be converted to cyanide in the body. Luckily, dogs don’t usually ingest enough to get sick, but to be safe, only the fruit should be offered to dogs. Make sure to remove the pits first.

  • Tremorgenic mycotoxins: Moldy fruit can contain a toxic compound known as tremorgenic mycotoxins, so be sure to discard any moldy or rotten fruit and keep it out of your dog’s reach. If you have a cherry tree on your property, keep them away from fruits that have fallen and are decaying on the ground. 

The bottom line: Can dogs eat human food?

Dogs can, and frequently do, eat many of the same foods as us. It can be a fun way to spice up your dog’s diet — and small bits of human foods can be highly motivating treats during training sessions, too. It is always important to double check that any food you are considering sharing with them is safe and non-toxic to dogs as there are some common human foods that should never be shared.

Also, be sure to factor all treats and table scraps into your dog’s total caloric intake to avoid over-feeding and putting them at risk for weight gain and related health problems. Be sure that your dog gets the bulk of their diet from a complete and balanced dog food so that they receive all of the nutrients they really need and are not in danger of nutritional deficiencies, which can cause serious health problems.

Finally, try to use treats and table snacks as an opportunity to enforce the kinds of behaviors you want from your dog, like sitting and waiting on their mat or going to their crate instead of counter surfing and begging. The more you can reinforce good behaviors with fun and exciting rewards, the sooner they will learn what you want and expect, deepening your bond and building lasting trust. 

Other foods that are good for dogs

Other foods that are dangerous

FAQs (People also ask)

How many cherries can a dog eat?

All table snacks should be less than 10 percent of your dog’s diet. Start with just a small bite of cherry fruit since it is high in fiber and may cause digestive upset in large amounts.

Is it OK to give dogs cherries?

Yes, cherries are OK in small amounts. They have a lot of sugar so should only be used as an occasional treat.

Why do dogs like cherries?

Dogs may like the sweet taste and the juicy texture of the cherry fruit.

Can dogs eat cherries?

Yes, dogs can safely eat the fruit of the cherry, but the pit and stems should be removed first.

Are cherries good for dogs?

Cherries contain important nutrients, but they are high in sugar and are not good for dogs in large amounts. 

Can dogs eat whole cherries?

Dogs should not eat whole cherries. The pits contain low levels of toxins and can also put them at risk for intestinal blockages.


Amy Fox

Dr. Amy Fox, DVM

Amy Fox, DVM is a small animal veterinarian in New York City. A lifelong animal lover, Dr. Fox studied biology in college and then worked as a veterinary nurse before pursuing veterinary school at Cornell University.  She has worked in many different settings including shelter medicine, emergency medicine, general practice, and animal cruelty and forensics. She is especially interested in nutrition, preventative medicine and care for senior pets. Dr. Fox also enjoys writing about veterinary medicine and teaching. In her free time she loves to cook, garden, and go for long runs. 

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