Are Apple Cores Poisonous To Dogs?

Updated November 28, 2020

There’s a lot of rubbish on the net…

Every time I bite into a crunchy apple, I hear the pitter-patter of eight tiny feet. That’s not some 8-legged apple monster, just my two hungry dogs.

They’ve got to know that when I  eat an apple I share the joy. Of course, this means I have to then eat a second so it’s all fair and square.

However, when I mention the health benefits of fruit to clients, they always say, “I heard apple cores are toxic”.

The Myth About Apple Cores

Apple seeds contain hydrogen cyanide. Yes, cyanide is toxic. But it’s not as simple as that.

Every plant-based food contains toxins at some level. Below the harmful threshold, these are just things to keep your dog’s liver busy. No effect, no harm. Our livers don’t get enough credit for the work they do.

But are we below the harmful level?

The Toxic Dose Of Apple Seeds

A medium sized dog would need to eat 85 grams of apple seeds and completely chew them up to get a toxic dose (source: ASPCA). We did an experiment:

  • I weighed the seeds from seven apples (54 seeds: average 8 seeds per apple) and reached 3 grams. That’s 0.4g per apple so the average weight of each apple seed is 0.055g.
  • To poison this dog would require them to eat (and grind up) the seeds from 200 apples.
  • Most webpages give the weight of an apple seed as 0.75g which only shows the authors either never bothered to check or there are some monster apples out there.

Is Cyanide A Cumulative Toxin?

super liver
Suuuuper liver!

Another ‘reputable’ site says that cyanide ‘accumulates in your dog’s system’. What ignorant rot. Did they go to vet school at all?

Cyanide is quickly metabolized to 2-amino-2-thiazoline-4-carboxylic acid and thiocyanate with a half life of 10–30 minutes as a detoxifying mechanism. Within a few hours of single ingestion, no cyanide can be detected, since all of it is metabolized unless death occurs first. Source

So like with most toxins, if the initial dose doesn’t exceed the lethal threshold, your liver will sort it out. Three cheers for livers! You can read here what happens to dogs with poor liver function.


Can Dogs Eat Apple Cores?

Yes. The feeding of sensible amounts of apple cores and seeds to dogs is harmless. Cyanide levels are extremely low and quickly metabolised. Apples are a safe and healthy treat that you can share with your dogs.

Have something to add? Comments (if open) will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. Meet his team here.

57 Replies to “Are Apple Cores Poisonous To Dogs?”

  1. Thank you for this article. Wondering about your advice on leaves from fruit trees. My small backyard is covered in fallen leaves from cherry, apricot and plum trees. Most articles warn against letting dogs eat them because of cyanide, but I can’t find anything about dogs getting sick from eating a few fruit tree leaves.

    1. Hi Maria. Yes, another example of scare stories ranking and sharing the best. I can’t imagine how many leaves a dog would have to eat before they reach a toxic dose, but I’ve certainly never heard of it. As I say in my article on safe plants for pets, any plant is toxic if enough is eaten, but there aren’t many animals that do. As an aside, many vets routinely recommended feeding the branches of fruit trees to rabbits for gnawing without problems.

  2. I came on here because my puppy (over 95 lbs) ingested a singular apple core and because of everything I was told I panicked, but didn’t want to rush him to the vet if it was unnecessary so I looked it up wanting to find info from a vet or someone who did actual research. Thank you for calming my uninformed heart and preventing me from embarrassing myself at the vet

  3. Andrew, thank you so much for this article, which is refreshing different to the many scare stories you read online.
    Our Labrador loves eating ripe apples and pears that fall from trees in the garden, but we try to ensure they are good fruit and she doesn’t eat too many to upset her stomach. A couple a day has no adverse affect on her at all and they are her favourite healthy treat.

  4. This article does not differentiate between apples stored correctly and those that have fallen from a tree in the yard. Please revise your article. Our Husky has become sick on two occasions after eating apples that have fallen from our tree. They are not spoilt but because we have not swept them up the previous day, he has found them. No dog, under any circumstances, should be allowed to eat apples with seeds. The seeds have cyanide and will result in vomiting, and then diarrhea. Not a death sentence but certainly not fun.

    1. Hi, Eileen. Have a look at the article and you might get a surprise! I’m certainly not advocating dogs to eat windfall apples, which will cause gastrointestinal upset due to the spoiled nature of the fruit. But I hope you will see that the seeds pose no practical risk.

    2. Thanks so much for the insight. We have tons of apple trees and my 80lb dog loves them. When in season he will go eat 3 or 4 a day. He never has had any ill afects but it has always had me thinking if it was safe? He is 8 and has been doing this since he was a pup. He loves his apples And pears .

  5. Hello Kelly , My pom that weighs 6 pounds got to my peach I left on the couch . He actually split it open and ate the seed .. the seed is soft you can actually bite it and it crumbles. within 5 minutes I rushed him to the vet , they induced vomiting also shot of cerina and Gave him a sub q slow drip . X-ray was also done nothing found .. this happened 2 weeks ago . He’s been acting completely normal , eating , playing -and normal stool. Been his normal self .. Should I still be concerned? I was thinking of doing blood work make sure everything is good . Thank you in advance! .

    1. Hi John. I think it’s quite sufficient just to remain vigilant, but blood work is always great, especially to help settle any doubts.

  6. It’s amazing to me how many stupid, lazy people there are. Andrew explains everything in the post, yet there are people posting “My dog ate a seed, is he going to be OK??” – use your brain!

  7. I fed my dog an apple core and was thinking about it, i figured i would go have a look at how many I’d need to feed her for her to have any ill effect. I’m a chemist and deal with small weights all day, so when i saw a site claim a single apple seed was 0.7g i figured there was no way. I was just about to pull out my scales and do all the math myself when i found this article. Thanks for saving me the time! I knew there was no way an apple core would come close to harming a 45kg German Shepherd…. Good to see people critically analysing these things!

  8. Hi! My dog, around 2 years old and 5 kilograms, ate like one apple seed (I’m pretty sure it was a seed). This is no reason for concern correct?

  9. My two new puppies eat the small apples from our tree, so this weekend we cut it down, it cause stomach issues with our other dogs last year, but there were still alot of the tiny apples on the ground. One pup has started the upset stomach and vomited once yesterday and day before. This morning he woke up and had some bad diarrhea (no blood) and didn’t eat breakfast. Is this a common symptom? Does it resolve since we have removed most of the problem?

    1. Hi Sherry. Dogs should never be given access to apples fallen from the tree as they have often spoilt. This article refers to fresh apples sold and correctly stored for human consumption.

  10. Thanks, I just happened to come across this post whilst meandering around the Net in the middle of a hot sleepless night. My puppy, who generally avoids all vegetables and fruit, has lately taken to munching on fallen apples from our tree, so it’s a relief to read this. I’ve been skulking around behind her trying to figure whether she was eating the apples up, or simply chewing on them.

    1. Thanks for the information. Our grandbeagle eats anything and everything. We are very careful but he did find an apple core and chomped it down before I could snatch it out of his mouth. It was a very small core but I know it had at least one seed. I appreciate the information on quantity of seeds needed to be harmful. So, a sigh of relief and appreciation.

  11. Hey Andrew,
    We have 2 pear trees in the back yard. Our Husky/ Shepherd mix loves to eat the fruit that falls. He ate 2-3 minimum tonight. Is the is the message the same for pears, not harmful?

    1. Hi Scott. The same should apply to pears. There is no sign of their seeds being poisonous.

      1. Cause my dog Millie ate 1/4 of the apple core cause the apple was gone . Is my dog going to be ok
        My dig Millie is 2 years old please respond

  12. Thank you so much for this article. I’m a first time dog owner with a 1year springador who definitely has a Labrador stomach AND I have an apple tree. She’s busy eating the tiny (not yet) apples that are falling off and sniffs them out with ease!
    I was panicking and found your article which makes so much sense.

  13. We have a crab apple tree in the backyard that my 30lb standard Aussie just loves to go try to eat the rotten apples, I try my best to keep him out of it but as soon as we go out side even if he is on his 30ft lead he will run straight to them this worried me because i read the apple seeds and all parts of the tree were toxic, so this article was a big relief now i just have to worry because they are rotten

    1. Go out and get the rotten ones and throw them away before your dog goes out.

  14. my daughter has had apricots and peaches growing where a lot have been fallen on the ground . both dogs have been eating lots of the fruit over the last few weeks – not sure if it was just fruit mor seeds as well – just noticed the last few days there has been black looking stools in the back yard .I am a little concerned about the if they cause toxicity and that is why black stools- they are large dogs one being a blue heeler the other american staffy should i be concerned as they still seem happy in themselves.

    1. Hi Carey. The flesh of apricots and peaches should be non-toxic if it is not spoiled, but it’s possible that the dogs are just eating far too much and causing a gastrointestinal upset. However, the big concern is that they do not eat the kernels, which cause intestinal obstructions and can themselves also be toxic.

  15. Hi Andrew : We found this article very helpful as our 18 mth German Shepherd just decided he will condescend to like apples , so thank you !.
    He’s also quite interested in mixed nuts – any kind will do ! I’m getting mixed messages on the safety of nuts for dogs .
    What is your solicited opinion on this , please.

    1. Hi Jeannette. Nuts other than macadamias seem safe, but I personally would not deliberately feed them. Why? They just don’t seem ‘natural’ for dogs to eat, that’s all.

  16. great to know, was just feeding my little darlings apple and thought i had better check it out, came up with an article that said the total contrary to your information Andrew, and I know whom I prefer to believe. So it’s apples all round in our house from now on !

  17. Thank god there is someone out there who doesn’t rehash the same dogma without critical appraisal. Apple cyanide poisoning would only happen if a barrel of it falls on your dog. The dose of cyanide in an apple is exceedingly small and as you’ve said it doesnt accumulate. But the bad rap does. My dogs aren’t into dogma thankfully and love their apple bits in moderation, core included. Remember today’ dogma is tomorrow’s dogshit. To use the common parlance. Keep up the battle against misinformation and fake science!

    1. I’d worry that a hornet would get into them and give him a painful sting! Take up the rotten ones before you take him out??and a barrel of apples falling on your dog would poison it but could kill it anyhow!

  18. This is very helpful, thank you! We have a 10-week old puppy who is OBSESSED with being around our apple tree, thereby making me very nervous!! I also read that apple leaves can be harmful- is there any truth to this?

    1. Hi Karen. I have never seen or heard of poisoning from apple leaves and would expect them to be no different to any other fruit tree.

      1. Is there a list of ‘certain fruit tree parts’ that actually are poisonous to dogs? Because of the ‘false information?’ that I have been coming across; I have been extremely leery of planting many-in my backyard, where our dog could ingest anything that is harmful to her.

      2. Hi Teresa. The main thing is to remember that almost anything that is edible to humans can be safely planted, with the obvious exceptions of grapes and avocados. Additionally, some fruit stones can be hazardous re intestinal obstructions (e.g. peaches) or toxicity (e.g. apricots) But both of these are rare as long as the dogs are not small even when they have free access to the trees in fruit. Many things that are described as gastrointestinal irritants (e.g. Eucalyptus, Lilli pilli) are extremely unlikely to be ingested in any quantity due to the foul taste.

  19. ( Hi ) I Give My Two Dogs A Boston 49 lbs a solid Body , hes 12 & A Small Breed lavender , 58 lbs , She’s 6 ,The Vet Says they Are The Rught Waite , I give Them haft Of A Apple A Night , I cut them Up In 3/4 & 1/2 in. SIZES & extract The Seeds Because I Was Told They Were Toxic To Them , Its Been Five Years Now , If They Dont Get Their Apple At Night They Wont Leave You Alone ,Especially The Boston, By The Way How About Zukeenys , The Boston Ate 2 of Them He A Thief, If It Gose In Your Mouth He Thinks Its Ok For His , He Even Will Stell Helapenow Pepers If He Can Get Them , He Will Eat Any Thing That Is Eatable to You . We have Haft To Watch Him , He’s Eleairjeck to Dog Food That Has ,( Egg is #1 ) & Its In all tipes of Dog Food
    even Graine Meail & Chiken. & Other Fillers , Hes On A Specil Chemical Dog Food , That We Haft To Buy From The Vet , Because ,no One Can Handle It, It’s is a Perscripiton Tipe Of Dog Food , that He Has to Have ,He Cant Have Regular dog food , It Seems Some Of Our Food That We Eat Dosen’t Seem to Borther Him ,He Likes All Greans Fruit & Vegetables , coffee Also , You Cant Leavet Around , Or He Will Get It , Soder Also, We Dont Drink Alcohol Products He probley Dink It Too, So What Can He Have Or Have Not

    1. Hi Zeek. As you have seen in the article, the amount of apple seeds you are giving is not dangerous to your dogs, but you can take them out if you prefer. Regarding what your dogs can eat, fruits and vegetables commonly eaten by humans are safe for dogs except members of the onion family and grapes, raisins and sultanas (read more at the links). Or click here for more information on feeding dogs well. However, you should definitely keep using the prescription diet if that’s what your vets recommend. As pet food allergies are usually to the meat part of the diet, fruits and vegetables should be OK.

    1. Hi Kyra. The only pits of concern will be the small ones that dogs will swallow when they eat the fruit – I wouldn’t be too worried about mango pits as dogs shouldn’t really be getting hold of them. However, I like your idea for things like citruses.

    2. Thanks for this article which I found useful combined with other sources. We have a couple new King Charles puppies that tend to get into our fallen crab apples. Would this cause diarrhea and possibly bloody stools even with a low level? Seem happy and healthy otherwise

      1. Hi M. You bring up a good point. This article really only refers to apples fit for human consumption – fallen apples will probably contain toxic mould and should be avoided. It’s quite possible that they are causing the symptoms you describe.

  20. My pet labrador died after a strange sudden onset of an illness which began after eating loads of apple windfalls I’m the autumn
    She lost lots of weight and developed severe breathing problems. Could this be linked to eating all the apples?

    1. Hi Christine. The windfall fruit is probably a coincidence (dogs are very tolerant to all sorts of rubbish) and the symptoms of poisoning would have probably been more rapid. However, it certainly is never a good idea to let dogs eat spoilt foods due to mould and bacterial toxins present within.

  21. Is it okay for a dog to start barking after eating a apple cor
    Because my dog was barking crazy.

  22. Hi there, thanks for the article. Although not Apple-related, I want to start my dog on hawthorn extract for her mild heart arrhythmia (she’s not currently on any medications as according to the cardiologist she is still disease-free at the moment, echo all normal, but we will recheck holter in 6-12 months). My holistic vet recommended hawthorn extract, and I found one brand that other dog owners used (the extract was made for human). It’s made from hawthorn berries, leafs and flowers. Now I’ve read that the seeds inside hawthorn berries contains cyanide, so I emailed the company and they told me the berries were not de-seeded and were simply grinded up whole. Do you think it will still be safe to give my dog the extract considering I’ll be giving her daily, low dose (1 capsule) and that the berries were grinded with the seed? Of course berries are just a part of what’s in the extract (200mg), the leaf and flowers constitute 300mg as per the bottle.

  23. Hello,
    My wife and i just bought our first house and our lab loves to use the shaded area under the crab apple tree in our backyard. Should we be worried about it harming him if hes alawys around it.?

    1. Hi Jon. While there’s nothing in the literature about crabapples, what is said above is probably also true for this fruit. I don’t think there’s much to worry about.

  24. Hi, I found your apple cyanide article very good. One question how many apples per week would put my Labrador at risk?
    I used to core them all the time but after looking at your article have come to question the standard poisoning answer.

    1. Hi Kelly. Glad you found it useful. This is one of the many, many pernicious scare stories online (eg. broccoli, walnuts). With cyanide, there’s no cumulative effect (it doesn’t store in the body), so as long as you don’t feed apple seeds faster than the liver can detoxify the cyanide you’re OK. I think there is no way it would be possible to feed apples fast enough to do this. So normal daily consumption of an apple or two is perfect fine.

      1. Great article. This answered my questions. Sounds like a lot of people need to read more carefully and trust the advice of someone who has studied and researched the subject matter carefully. The author is a vet who has several years of experience, training and advanced levels of education yet simpletons question his material.

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