Can dogs or cats eat cherries?

27 July 2023
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.

Can dogs eat cherries?

While cherries might be a delicious and nutritious treat for humans, they can be a very risky food to feed to your dog. The fruit itself is technically nontoxic, but there's cyanide present in the stems, leaves, and pits of cherries. As a result, several parts of the cherry can be poisonous to dogs, especially when eaten in large quantities.

Cyanide, which prevents blood cells from carrying oxygen throughout the body, is famously harmful to humans — and it takes smaller quantities of cyanide to harm a dog than a person.

Cherry pits not only contain cyanide, but they're hard enough to break a tooth and can cause choking or blockages within a dog's digestive system. Even small amounts of cherry pits can be dangerous, causing intestinal issues such as cramps and diarrhoea.

To protect your dog from toxins, the safest thing to do is to avoid feeding your dog any part of a cherry. If your dog does get their chompers around some cherries and begins showing signs of illness such as lethargy, diarrhoea, or vomiting, reach out to your veterinarian immediately. And if your pup ever requires veterinary care due to eating unsafe food, dog insurance can help cover the cost of treatment.

Can cats eat cherries?

It is not safe for cats to eat cherries. The stems, leaves, and pits of cherries contain cyanide, which can be toxic to cats. Although the amount of cyanide present in a cherry is relatively small, it can still harm your feline friend.

Cyanide is released when cherry pits are chewed or broken open, and this famously toxic chemical compound can quickly enter your cat's bloodstream. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning may include difficulty breathing, dilated pupils, bright red gums and tongue, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

On top of their toxicity, cherry pits pose another risk for cats: they're hard, round objects that can easily become lodged in a cat's throat or intestines if swallowed whole. This can lead to choking or blockages within their digestive system, which in turn will necessitate emergency veterinary attention.

The bottom line: it's best to avoid giving cherries to your cat, even as an occasional treat. The truth is, your cat might not enjoy eating cherries even if it is safe to do so. As obligate carnivores, cats need to get most of their nutrients from meat. Plus, they can't taste sweetness the same way that humans and dogs can.

If your cat does eat cherries (or any other food) and begins showing signs of illness such as lethargy, diarrhoea, or vomiting, reach out to your veterinarian immediately. And if your cat ever requires veterinary care due to eating unsafe food, cat insurance can help cover the cost of treatment.

Information purposes only

The suggestions offered here are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for pet-specific advice from your veterinarian. Never disregard your vet’s recommendations, or delay in acting on them, based on something you have read on this site. Regardless of how a food is rated here, any food that you give your pet can pose potential health risks, including allergic reactions, choking, or other health conditions such as bloat. Always monitor your pet while they’re eating, and never introduce a new food into your pet’s diet without first consulting your veterinarian. 

Pet poison emergency protocol

If your pet is acting sick, call your regular veterinarian immediately. If your regular veterinarian is closed, call a nearby on-call veterinarian, animal urgent care, or veterinary emergency hospital. If your pet is not acting sick but you think they may have been exposed to a poison, call the Animal Poison Line (01202 50 9000).

Food safety statuses


Could be given almost daily without harm

Safe in moderation

Not toxic, but should not be given regularly


Toxic or simply too risky to give to your pet