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Mars's Story

Mars’s Story and the dangers of Autumn Fruits for Dogs

“Mars” was a big, fun loving, three-year-old, Chocolate Labrador, who would eat almost anything in his path!! He was brought into the surgery after he had been caught red-handed eating tree-fall plums from the neighbour’s garden. Poor Mars had been very sick since this incident, and he was in some obvious discomfort. On examination, his abdomen was uncomfortable to palpate, and he was salivating and vomiting bile while in the consult room. Mars was admitted immediately for hospitalisation, treatments, and X-rays. His X-rays quickly showed that he had an intestinal blockage, likely due to the many, offending Plum stones. His owners were informed that he would need emergency surgery to remove the blockage ...

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless, with fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run”. 

The glorious Autumn months do bring with them an abundance of fruits. However, it is important for pet owners to know that some of these stoned fruits are extremely dangerous to dogs. It is not a good idea to let your dog eat fruit with stones, for example peaches, plums, nectarines, for a variety of reasons. Peach and Plum pits and stones, from fruit of all types, can pose a potential hazard to your dog and should always be kept well out of their reach and discarded safely when you have finished eating them. 

Fruit might seem like a very innocuous food, but the stones of certain types of fruits contain small quantities of cyanide within their kernels, the part of the fruit stone at the very centre that you don’t see until the stone has split or cracked opened. If your dog chews and gnaws on a fruit stone, they might get right down to the kernel and ingest some of the dangerous centre that contains cyanide. It is highly unlikely that eating the kernel from just one or two fruits would lead to the ingestion of enough cyanide to pose a hazard to your dog’s health, but it is much better to avoid the risk entirely and keep these fruits well away from your dog. Signs of cyanide toxicity include salivation, vomiting, rapid or difficulty breathing, and even convulsions and paralysis. 

Also, if your dog scavenges or finds tree-fall fruit, it might be decaying, fermenting, and growing mould, which can also cause an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhoea if they eat this. 

Fruit pits and stones can also be harmful for your dog’s teeth. Fruit stones are hard, rough, and tough on the outside, which is often why dogs will enjoy gnawing on them. However, they are also hard and brittle enough to damage your dog’s teeth, causing dental cracks or breaks that will be painful for your dog and may require dental treatment. Chewing and gnawing on these stones also runs the risk of cutting your dog’s tongue and gums, which can be painful, and create the right environment for an infection to set in. 

Fruit stones are also the right sort of size and shape to pose a potential choking hazard to your dog, because they can get stuck in their throats and block their airways. A choking dog will tend to panic and try to inhale, which serves to lodge a blockage even more firmly in your dog’s throat.

Even cherry stones can potentially pose a choking hazard for some smaller dogs, and so the best approach is to keep fruit stones well away from your dog, regardless of their size.

Fruit stones are very rough on the outside, which can graze the delicate lining of your dog’s oesophagus, the canal connecting the throat to the stomach, and make them feel uncomfortable and reluctant to eat. If your dog chews on, or eats peach pits and other fruit stones regularly, this can may lead to a scarring of the oesophagus, as well as increasing the risk of them accidentally coughing up and inhaling particles from the stone into their lungs, which can then lead to other serious complications, such as pneumonia. If your dog crunches up and eats parts of a fruit stone, the splintered shards of it can cause internal damage, which may not become evident until the damage has already been done.  

Even if your dog successfully manages to swallow a fruit stone whole, it may swell up and then be too large to pass through their digestive system naturally, this stone can then potentially cause a dangerous intestinal blockage. Signs of such an intestinal foreign body blockage include vomiting, abdominal pain, and distension, and decreased or absent appetite. This is the most reported adverse result of ingesting fruit pits and stones. 

Thankfully, the lovely, hungry “Mars” recovered well from his emergency surgery to remove the many plum stones. He had eaten all the plums that he possibly could whole, so he had not chewed into the poisonous plum stone kernels. 

Mars's owners were very relieved, but they had to always keep a very close eye on him now, especially during the Autumn, fruitful months! 

 

Alison Laurie-Chalmers

Senior Consultant
Crown Vets

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