Can I give my dog cherries

Most of us love cherries, whether raw, prepared, or as part of a dessert.

But can dogs eat cherries, too? Are cherries safe for our dogs to consume?

Good news for you because, like most fruits, yes, dogs can eat cherries.

But with precautions, of course.

In this article, let's delve a little deeper into the nutritional value of cherries.

Why are they beneficial for dogs? And what should you avoid when feeding it to them?

Ready? Let's ‘cherry' on!

Can Dogs Eat Cherries: Cherry 101

Cherries are chuck-full of great nutrients for both humans and dogs.

When fed in moderation, your dog should make the most out of the vitamins and minerals cherries offer.

However, when fed in excess, they might cause our furry pals more harm than good.

So, to get to know this little red fruit deeper, let's discuss first what a cherry is.

What are cherries?

What a tart cherry looks like?
Tart cherry (small, bright red)

A cherry is a type of summer fruit belonging to the family called Prunus, the same one that covers plums, apricots, and peaches.

There are two primary types of cherries most consumed by people—tart cherries (or Montmorency cherry) and sweet cherries (big cherries).

They are often used in pies and other desserts when not eaten raw.

On the right, you see a Montmorency tart cherry.

On the left below, you see a (big) sweet cherry.

What a big sweet cherry looks like?
Sweet cherry (big, dark red)

The difference between these two types of cherries is their sugar content and, subsequently, their taste.

Big, sweet cherries are, of course, sweeter and tastier.

I sure love snacking on these plump and luscious treats.

However, most of the health benefits studied are only about Montmorency tart cherries, so we'll focus on these more in this article.

This means that if you give your dog cherries, it's best to go for tart cherries due to their potential health benefits and lower natural sugar content.

To give you a picture of just how nutritious they are, let's look at the table below about the nutritional value of a 100-gram raw cherry, as reported by the USDA FoodData Central.

Nutrients Found in 100-g Raw Cherry 

Water 82.25 g
Energy 63 kcal
Protein 1.06 g
Total Lipid (Fat) 0.2 g
Carbohydrates 16.01 g
Fiber 2.1 g
Sugars 12.82 g
Calcium 13 mg
Iron 0.36 mg
Magnesium 11 mg
Vitamin A 3 µg
Vitamin C 7 µg
Vitamin E 0.07 µg

Source: USDA FoodData Central

However, there are potential health consequences of giving too many of these to dogs or feeding cherries that are not prepared or otherwise appropriate for dogs.

That's all great, but why can dogs eat cherries, and what benefits will they reap from it?

ALSO READ: Can Dogs Eat Bananas?

Can Dogs Eat Cherries?

Yes, dogs can eat cherries, provided they are properly prepared and fed in strict moderation.

As with any other type of food for dogs, it's important not to overdo it.

It is highly recommended that you feed them cherries without pits.

The cherry pit is toxic in large quantities because it has cyanide in it.

The vitamins and minerals listed in the table above are important and can greatly benefit your dog and his health.

But as a fellow pet parent, I know what you think.

What do those nutrients do for my dog's body, anyway?

I'm with you.

So, let's discuss that next.

Can I give my dog cherries?

10 Health Benefits of Cherries for Dogs

Your dog can only reap the full health benefit from cherries if fed on this in moderation and as an occasional treat.

Doing so may provide your dog with the following ten health benefits:

1. Antioxidants reduce cell damage and help prevent diseases.

Cherries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins that strengthen a dog's immune system and may even reduce degenerative conditions like canine arthritis, cardiovascular disease, heart conditions, and potentially canine cancers in dogs.

2. Vitamin A helps promote eye health.

Vitamin A has many health benefits, particularly those related to eyes.

Providing Vitamin A can sharpen and strengthen your dog’s vision and may promote overall eye health in canines.

3. Vitamin C improves and strengthens the immune system.

Similarly to anthocyanins, Vitamin C found in cherries will promote the function of white blood cells in a canine's body.

It strengthens your dog’s immune system and benefits his overall well-being.

This is the best reason not to wonder if dogs can eat cherries, as Vitamin C will greatly benefit their health.

4. Melatonin promotes healthy sleep patterns and heart health.

Very few foods have melatonin, but cherries are one of those exceptional fruits.

Melatonin is an antioxidant that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles in dogs (the circadian rhythm).

Melatonin may also help to lower blood pressure and control heart rhythms in the dog's body.

Bing sweet cherries may also improve heart health, as some studies show.

5. Cherries may help to prevent diabetes.

Here's another good reason for dog owners wondering if dogs can eat cherries.

Because of its high antioxidant content, giving cherries to dogs may help improve the management of canine diabetes or reduce the risk of diabetes in dogs altogether.

However, it's important to feed dogs on cherries sparingly since they still contain fructose. 

6. Cherries have fiber that helps with weight loss and maintenance.

Dietary fiber is an important component in cherries (as well as in many other fruits and veggies) that promotes weight loss and healthy weight management in dogs, among many other benefits related to digestion and the digestive health system in canines.

Providing sufficient fiber in the dog's diet will help regulate your canine's digestive system, including his bowel movements.

7. Cherries can help reduce joint inflammation.

Cherries have been well-studied for their inflammation properties, and many studies have proven that to be the case (this, this, and this).

Therefore, active and particularly older dogs can benefit from the anti-inflammatory characteristics of tart cherries when given in sufficient (yet moderate) amounts.

Many pet owners have been concerned about whether dogs can eat cherries and how this affects their internal health, so the answer is that it ultimately benefits them.

But note that big sweet cherries do not have the same anti-inflammatory benefit.

8. Potassium, a vital nutrient, is found in cherries.

Although bananas would be a better source, cherries still have a good amount of potassium.

Potassium helps to strengthen various dog's body functions, including muscle development, blood vessel function, and electrolyte replacement.

9. Cherries are a significant source of magnesium.

Another mineral tart cherries are known for is magnesium.

Magnesium is needed for the proper absorption of vitamins, production of protein, and bone growth in dogs, among many other vital functions in the canine body.

10. Cherries contain iron needed for healthy body function.

Finally, it's also the vital mineral iron for which cherries have also been studied.

Iron is needed for the dog's body’s enzymes to function properly and for the creation of hemoglobin for oxygen transport in the blood, among its many other health benefits.

Benefits of cherries for dogs infographic

The bottom line is that Cherries are safe for dogs to eat in tiny amounts.

Dogs like the taste of cherries because they are so sweet, so it’s important not to overfeed them.

ALSO READ: Can Dogs Eat Cantaloupe?

4 Potential Side Effects of Cherries for Dogs

Now that we've established the possible benefits Fido could get from cherries, there are also potential side effects we should look out for.

Giving cherries to dogs in large amounts or too often can harm your dog's health.

Be cautious about the following when feeding cherries to pups.

1. Cherry pits, seeds, and leaves are toxic to dogs.

This is the most important thing to remember: cherry pits contain cyanide, which is both toxic and deadly to dogs and humans.

Cyanide is also found in cherry seeds and leaves, so properly clean and de-pit them before feeding your dog.

Humans can handle more amounts of cyanide than dogs before it becomes poisonous, so better be careful with this!

Cyanide poisoning prevents vital enzymes from transporting oxygen to blood cells.

Symptoms include inadequate oxygen levels, bright reddish gums, difficulty breathing, and dilated pupils.

Take your dog to a vet immediately if he exhibits any of these symptoms, especially if you know that your dog ate cherry pits, seeds, or leaves.

2. Cherry pits can cause obstructions and blockages.

There are more issues with cherry pits than just cyanide.

Even though they are small, cherry pits can still get lodged in a dog’s gastrointestinal tract, resulting in an emergency requiring your dog to get surgery.

Obstruction signs include vomiting, low fecal production, straining, or refusal to eat.

3. Cherries can cause gastrointestinal upset.

Giving cherries to dogs in large amounts may result in your canine experiencing stomach upset.

In fact, this can also happen if you're introducing cherries to your dog's diet for the first time!

Your Fido may experience mild vomiting, decreased appetite, and diarrhea due to difficulty digesting cherries as a new food.

So, if you want to give your dog cherries, start with very small amounts.

4. Sugary forms of processed cherries can elevate blood sugar.

Finally, it's important to remember that only natural cherries are safe for dogs.

Cherries in jars, dried cherries, processed cherries, and cherries canned in sugar-filled juice always have added processed sugar (on top of the natural sugars within cherries).

Never give your dog any form of cherry other than natural.

Sugary foods like these may cause blood sugar spikes that increase dogs' insulin levels.

This is generally followed by a sudden drop in blood sugar. Dogs who experience this situation may feel lethargic, sick, or extremely hungry.

Side effects of cherries for dogs

FAQs related to “Can dogs eat cherry?”

Can dogs eat cherry pie, maraschino cherries, or depitted cherries?

Don't give your dogs cherries that have been processed already and added with other ingredients that could harm them.

So, the answer is no, don't give them cherry pie or maraschino cherries.

Remember that our dogs cannot process carbohydrates as effectively as we can.

Now, in the matter of the depitted cherries, just as long you're sure that it's au naturale, which means no preservatives or flavorings added, but just the cherry itself, then yes, feeding it to dogs in moderation should be fine.

How many cherries are toxic to dogs?

Feeding your dog one to two cherries shouldn't affect them negatively.

Just ensure your Fido won't get into a bag of cherries because, like we said earlier, too much of it can be dangerous for them.

And if you're thinking, “Oh, my dog's a good boy, he won't do that.”

Trust me. Cherries are naturally sweet, and sweet food is addictive, even to dogs.

Your Fido will definitely try to get his paws on that bag of cherries if you aren't going to stop him!

Are ground cherries safe for dogs?

No, these cherries are a member of the nightshade family, which is known to be poisonous, even to humans.

They contain solanine and other forms of solanidine alkaloids that are especially poisonous when the fruit is not ripe.

Humans, pets, and any livestock should avoid these berries.

Can dogs eat dried cherries?

If you did the whole drying process and you're sure it's 100% cherry, then by all means, feed a little amount to Fido as a treat.

But if you bought it somewhere, chances are it also contains high levels of sugar, which, as we've said before, can cause harm to your dog's health.

Yes, Dogs Can Eat Cherries! But Before You Go…

Know that feeding Fido too much cherry is a danger to his health, so only occasionally give this fruit as a treat.

Also, make sure that the pits, seeds, and leaves are completely removed before giving it to them.

When given in proper amount and frequency, cherries host a lot of nutrients your dog will benefit from.

But give it too much or too often, then there are potentially deadly consequences you should be prepared for.

If you want to learn more about fruits that dogs can (or can't) eat, check out our recommended articles below!

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Can Dogs Eat Cherries

Sarah is the pet food expert at Top Dog Tips with experience in working, writing and researching the pet food industry, dog foods and canine nutrition. She's dedicated to uncover the truths about how, why and what we use to feed our dogs.