First: why not cherries? What is the problem with them?
The issue here is that cherries contain a toxin that you may be familiar with if you’ve read any spy literature: cyanide!
Cyanide is a poison that is used in fiction by spies to commit suicide following an unsuccessful mission! Now, there is nowhere near enough cyanide in a cherry to have this immediate and fatal effect. But that said, there is enough that it can build up and then become a problem over time or when enough cherries are consumed. And remember that dogs are a lot smaller than humans. So while it’s a tiny amount of cyanide for us, if ingested in high qualities, it can build up to the point where it is a problem for dogs.
The cyanide is found in the pits, leaves, and stems of cherries. So, cherries are much safer to eat if these things are removed, but there are a few other reasons dogs shouldn’t eat cherries. The first reason is that the pits can be a decent choking hazard if they are not removed.
Another reason is that cherries are also very rich in sugar. You no doubt know this if you have eaten many yourself – they are often used on top of cakes for this very reason!
And while this makes cherries very sweet and delicious, it also makes them calorific and a diabetes risk for dogs. If dogs eat a lot of cherries, then this can spike their blood sugar to a large degree. The body responds by releasing insulin and while this isn’t an issue in the short term, if the same process keeps repeating over and over, then it can eventually lead to the body becoming desensitized and losing its ability to produce that insulin or to use it effectively. This is what causes diabetes.
Likewise, eating lots of sugar can cause direct damage to your dog. It can damage the nerves, for instance, and may even lead to vision issues if consumed in very large quantities. On top of this, eating lots of sugar can lead to weight gain by increasing calories – sugar is just energy and if the body doesn’t use that energy, then it needs to store it somehow. Bodies do this by storing excess sugar as fat.
As though all that wasn’t enough, sugar also causes tooth problems. So it’s just better not to give your dog something so sweet!
One more thing to consider about cherries is that they are high in melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone, and as such, cherries can make you drowsy. This is no big problem for people, but for dogs who are much smaller it can once again be more pronounced. Dogs don’t generally like feeling that dozy and drugged, so again… better to just avoid cherries!