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Can Dogs Eat Maraschino Cherries? Know How Healthy They Are!

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

maraschino cherries in a bowl

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Maraschino Cherries are not toxic to dogs. Unlike other cherries, they do not have a pit, which can be toxic to dogs. Therefore, they may technically be considered a “safe” option for dogs. Cherries are full of vitamin C and antioxidants, which can improve your dog’s immune system.

However, these cherries have a lot of sugar. While they are okay for people in moderation, dogs are much smaller (usually). Therefore, they are affected negatively by a smaller amount of sugar. For this reason, we don’t recommend feeding your dog Maraschino Cherries on purpose. They simply aren’t good for them. If your dog accidentally eats one, though, then there usually isn’t any reason to take them to the vet.

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What Happens If My Dog Eats a Maraschino Cherry?

One or two maraschino cherries aren’t going to hurt most dogs. Larger dogs may even be able to handle more. However, these cherries are very high in sugar, which most dogs aren’t used to consuming in high amounts. They aren’t good for your canine and may even cause stomach upset.

You may notice your dog become lethargic after eating one of these cherries. They may even vomit or have diarrhea. However, these symptoms often subside after a few hours once their body digests the sugar.

If your dog regularly eats these cherries, these stomach problems may dissipate. Their stomach will become used to the high sugar content. However, they may become obese due to the excessive sugar. Dogs may even develop health issues from regular consumption of this sugar, such as diabetes.

a sick dog lying on the wooden floor
Image Credit: Kittima05, Shutterstock

Dogs with Health Problems

With that said, dogs with underlying health problems may have serious issues when consuming this much sugar. For instance, dogs with diabetes aren’t able to process much sugar. Eating one of these cherries may cause their sugar to spike to an unsafe level. In these cases, you may need to give them emergency insulin, assuming you can do so safely at home.

In other cases, you may need to call your vet.

Other dogs with health issues may have extra trouble with the sugar, as well. In these cases, you may need to call your vet and ask what actions you need to take. When in doubt, we always recommend giving your vet a call.

What About Cherry Pits?

Cherry pits are toxic to dogs, as they contain cyanide. Of course, this substance is also toxic to people. However, cherry pits are much harder than most people can chew, which prevents us from eating them. Dogs are a different story, especially as they tend to swallow things whole.

Luckily, these maraschino cherries aren’t supposed to have pits. However, there is always a risk that they will. Manufacturing issues can occur, which may be potentially deadly to your dog.

If your dog consumes a cherry pit, they may develop cyanide poisoning. It takes very little cyanide to be deadly to a dog, which means that they would have to consume very few cherry pits for symptoms to occur. Often, cyanide poisoning is fatal in only a few hours. Therefore, emergency vet attention may be required.

Symptoms of cyanide poisoning often occur quickly and are often very serious. Usually, seizures, fainting, and hyperventilation can occur. Every seizure brings with it a chance of brain damage. Therefore, if you know your dog has eaten a cherry pit, you should seek veterinary attention.

Treatment for cyanide poisoning often involves the use of an antidote. However, this antidote isn’t guaranteed and it depends on your dog’s symptoms. Sometimes, the owner doesn’t realize something is wrong until the dog has a seizure. At this point, the damage may already be done.

Your vet may recommend anti-seizure and anti-vomiting medications. These may help prevent symptoms from harming your dog, especially the seizures. Dogs who hyperventilate may need oxygen. In practically all cases, dogs will need to stay at the vet overnight at the very least.

close up of maraschino cherries
Image Credit: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock

Prognosis

If your dog eats a maraschino cherry in particular, then they may be fine without vet treatment. Stomach upset may occur, but it isn’t severe enough to cause complications (usually). Dogs with health problems may need vet care, but the prognosis is often still good unless many cherries were eaten.

Of course, we recommend calling the vet if your dog has any underlying health issues—just in case.

If your dog eats a cherry pit, things are a bit different. Cherry pits contain cyanide, which is truly toxic. If your dog consumes even one cherry pit, they may develop life-threatening symptoms. Quick vet care is required to reduce the odds of death. If you believe your dog has eaten a cherry pit, call a vet. This is an emergency, so an emergency vet should be contacted outside of regular vet hours.

Small dogs are most sensitive to cyanide, as they require fewer cherry pits for a toxic dose. Their smaller body weight works against them. However, larger dogs may also be at risk. All dogs should be seen by a vet.

Luckily, when given treatment, the prognosis for cyanide poisoning is good. Many dogs will receive the antidote, which may prevent symptoms from occurring.

Alternatives to Cherries

We don’t recommend giving your dog any cherries, even maraschino cherries. Instead, other fruit options are better for most dogs. Blueberries and similar fruits are a good choice, as they are high in fiber and low in sugar. Stay away from particularly sugary fruits, and be aware that the pits and seeds of most fruits are toxic.

Before giving your dog any fruit, be sure to remove the seeds or pits. This includes both mangoes and apples.

Of course, you can also just stick to your dog’s regular diet. All commercial dog foods are nutritionally complete for most dogs. If your dog requires supplementation for one reason or another, we recommend using vet-approved supplements instead of using fruit.

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Conclusion

Maraschino cherries are not usually toxic to dogs. These cherries don’t contain a pit when processed properly. However, processing hiccups do happen. These can lead to your dog accidentally consuming a cherry pit, which may require vet attention.

Of course, these cherries are also very high in sugar. Sugar isn’t blatantly toxic to dogs, but it isn’t good for them either. Therefore, we recommend avoiding these cherries as a treat. If fed in mass over time, the sugar can lead to obesity and health problems.


Featured Image Credit: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock

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