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Cherry tree - how worried should I be?

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by Doodle23, May 3, 2021.


  1. Doodle23

    Doodle23 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi,

    I have a 12-week-old Labradoodle puppy who picks up everything he sees on the floor: flowers, bits of cardboard, other rubbish, etc. In our garden, we have an enormous cherry tree, so the lawn is currently covered in cherry blossoms, which I've recently found out are toxic to dogs.

    What I can't seem to find out is just how dangerous they are. Should I be worried if he only eats one, or would he have to eat a lot of them for it to harm him? I guess I'd like to know the answer to this for toxic plants generally. Constantly watching him to make sure he doesn't pick anything up on walks is making them stressful, and I'd like to be able to enjoy them!
     
  2. Torin.

    Torin. PetForums VIP

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    It's not a worry. I am typing out a longer scientific explanation, but for settling your nerves asap while I type :)
     
  3. Torin.

    Torin. PetForums VIP

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    You're fine.

    The worrying part of cherry trees (and plums and apricots) is the presence of amygdalin in parts of the plant. The body can process amygdalin into cyanide. And if the cyanide levels his a certain threshold then that's poisonous.

    Which sounds bad, right? Everyone knows cyanide is dangerous stuff

    But several things:
    Amygdalin is concentrated primarily in seed pits. It's bitter-tasting stuff. The idea from the plant's pov is to stop animals cracking the seeds and eating them, because then the seed is unable to grow into a new plant. But if the animal just eats the fruit flesh, or swallows the seed whole, then it can sprout into a baby tree.

    Concentrated in the seeds also doesn't mean that there's a lot of the stuff in one seed either - it would take a significant amount of cracked open seeds to cause a problem. Apple pips also have this same risk, but you'd have to crack open the seeds of a cup full of them and feed them all to a small child in a short time period for any chance of issues. Dogs are less good at processing the amygdalin than humans are. You'll hit blockage risks far sooner than you will digesting amygdalin issues.

    This means there's practically none in the flower petals. There's a small amount under the bark layer of the wood (how much depends on the species and cultivar), but even a dog chewing on a branch isn't a risk factor in terms of amounts as we're not talking a lot. Plus as I said above, it's bitter-tasting stuff. If your dog was existing on a sole diet of cherry/ plum/ apricot branches maybe, but you'd have bigger worries if that's the case!

    Back to species and cultivar - most cherries people plant in gardens in the UK are ornamental cherries, grown for their blossom and not for their fruit. Even if you have a huge cherry tree with loads of blossom everywhere, that doesn't mean you're going to get loads of fruit everywhere, as they've been selectively bred for the flowers to be the main focus.

    So keep an eye out sure, but I'd be much more concerned that if your trees are fruit-producers that the fallen cherries will attract stinging pollinators than anything to do with being toxic in and of themselves :)

    For info I have 2 cherries and a plum tree in my garden. I hoover up the fallen plums really quickly because if they start to ferment they attract wasps. My dog eats them and he's small (6Kg) so a swallowed stone would be risk blockage-wise, but I the toxicity angle doesn't even feature on my radar. My cherries just look pretty.
     
    Burrowzig, Lurcherlad, rona and 6 others like this.
  4. Doodle23

    Doodle23 PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks, super helpful info! I've been avoiding taking him into the garden since the blossom started falling (he goes out in the yard instead) but do you think I'm being too cautious there? It would be nicer to take him into the garden sometimes as he can run around more.
     
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  5. Torin.

    Torin. PetForums VIP

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    Definitely safe to go back out there. I understand being cautious until you know more, but practically everything else in his life will be a far greater risk than being poisoned by cherry petals.

    Can we have a photo of the guy himself? :)
     
    Lurcherlad, Doodle23 and JoanneF like this.
  6. Doodle23

    Doodle23 PetForums Newbie

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    Great thanks :) I feel like there should be a reliable resource online for finding out this stuff, but when you google "are cherry blossoms poisonous to dogs" there are a lot of scary/unhelpful results!

    I don't have any decent pictures at the moment - whenever I get my phone out around him he attacks it hahaha
     
    rona likes this.
  7. EmCHammer

    EmCHammer PetForums VIP

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    Torin that's really useful.. my neighbours have a plum tree that hangs over into my garden they are green plums and i like the tree it's really pretty in blossom and gives some shade so no problem with it.

    The family say the plums are bitter so was a surprise to me last year when saw my dog searching out the fallen ones to eat with great enjoyment. He might have done it every year but once I knew I was worried re the stones..
     
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