Are Apple Cores Poisonous To Dogs?

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.

So…

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 are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These blogs are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!

Andrew

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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