Sunday, April 14, 2013

Borrowing Washington's Axe

Got a question today that sent me back to the books, (virtual books, of course).

Here's the question;

"We were wondering if a weeping cherry tree (prunus) would be safe in our back yard. We have heard yes and no about being safe for dogs. Thanks, M"
Here is my answer;
Thanks for the question. I had to do a little research to find an answer.
Even after lots of digging I can't provide you with a specific scientifically based "yes" or "no."
Here's what I found.
"The leaves, bark and seeds all contain cyanogenic glycosides. However, it varies for different Prunus species.
The seeds are found within the pits and will only release cyanide if broken (chewed). Cultivated cherries seem to have little cyanogenic potential at maturity (Swain, 1992).
Wild black cherries and choke cherries have a high amount of cyanide in their foliage. The leaves and bark become more toxic when wilted (after freeze, etc.).
I would be worried about the horses if they have access to the cherry foliage. The young leaves are rather palatable and horses have been known to graze them."
Please note the informative excerpts from;
Tina Wismer, DVM, DABVT, DABT
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
An Allied Agency of the University of Illinois
Owner Animal Emergency Clinic of Champaign Count

Some other info that I dug up was that the pits, leaves, and parts of the tree need to be chewed for the cyanide to be released. So swallowing the fruit or pits isn't toxic. And dogs have a much higher tolerance than horses do. So anyone with cherry trees in the pasture should remove them.
Apparently dogs need to "eat a lot" of cherry parts to be toxic. Cattle, sheep, and horses seem to be most sensitive. Large ingestions can be fatal quickly. 
In an effort to give you advice, I'm going to do what many of us do, you know, part "cover our butts" and part "better safe than sorry."
My official advice is...don't buy a cherry tree for your back yard.

I received this from a Jarrettsville client, it has excellent info also;
This question came to me from a very good friend on

If you, or anyone you know, is looking for some information or has a pet question I am happy to help them. Just ask away at! Always free for everyone! Ask, Connect, Learn!

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