Are Apple Cores Poisonous To Dogs?

Updated April 3rd, 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.

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.

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!
Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours.

Andrew

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

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. ( 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

Leave a Reply to Karen Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *