Are Crab Apples Poisonous to Dogs?

You’re a responsible dog owner who wants to keep your pup safe from foods and plants that may be dangerous to them. That’s harder than it seems, and takes a lot of diligence and care, especially if your dog is the curious type! If you’ve got a crab apple tree in your yard or notice fallen crab apples on your daily walk with your furry friend, you may be wondering if they’re safe around your dog.

So, are crab apples poisonous to dogs? The short answer is yes. Dogs should never ingest crab apples as they can cause severe poisoning symptoms and even death. Crab apples contain the chemical cyanogenic glycoside, a chemical that’s more commonly known as cyanide. If ingested in large enough quantities, it becomes deadly to your four-legged companion.

In this article, we’ll find out what makes crab apples poisonous to dogs, the symptoms of crab apple poisoning in dogs, how to identify a crab apple, what to do if your dog ingests a crab apple, and more.

are crab apples poisonous to dogs

How to Identify a Crab Apple

If you want to keep your dog safe from dangerous plants, knowing how to identify them is half the battle. Crab apples are easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for, so make sure you’re sure how to identify a crabapple tree or fruit during every season.

  • Crab apple trees can grow to be about 15 to 30 feet tall.
  • The tree blooms either white or bright fuschia in the spring.
  • The leaves on a crab apple tree are light green in spring, before turning a deeper green in summer and can turn red, orange, red or purple in autumn.
  • The fruit is smaller than a traditional apple, ranging anywhere from ¼ of an inch to 2 inches in diameter.
  • The leaves are oval in shape, with serrated edges and a pointed end.
  • The fruit almost resembles a large cherry, since it grows on long stems, unlike a traditional apple’s short stems
  • Much like a regular apple, crab apples change colors as they ripen, from a light green to a deep red.
Grow Your Yard Tip
If you identify a crab apple tree in a nearby yard or along your normal walk route, make a note of it so you know to keep an extra eye on your dog when you’re around that tree. Once you learn if there are crab apple trees near you and where they are, watching your dog more closely will become second nature.

Why Are Crab Apples Poisonous to Dogs?

To be more clear, the flesh of the crab apple fruit is not dangerous to you or your dog. So in theory, if the crab apple is peeled, cored and deseeded, it won’t harm your dog. But  it’s unlikely that if your pup gets hold of a crab apple that they’ll only eat the fruit!

Apple trees of all kinds, including crab apple trees, produce cyanogenic glycoside. It’s a chemical that metabolizes as cyanide when eaten, in both humans and dogs. But whereas we can eat an apple seed or two without it causing any issues, the chemical is highly toxic to dogs.

It’s important to make sure you keep all parts of a crab apple tree away from your dog – don’t play fetch with crab apple branches! Cyanogenic glycoside is located in the fruit, stem, seeds and leaves of the tree.

Eating a very small amount of a crab apple is unlikely to cause much more than major stomach upset and vomiting, but it’s important to call a veterinarian just in case. If too much of the crab apple was eaten, your dog could quickly experience major symptoms, leading to a coma or even death.

Grow Your Yard Tip
The amount of cyanogenic glycoside in crab apples is most concentrated in the autumn, as the fruit is ripening. This is the time that pet owners should be most careful.

Symptoms of Cyanide Poisoning in Dogs

Even with close supervision, your dog may ingest parts of a crab apple without you realizing, especially if you have a crab apple tree in your yard or near your house. So it’s crucial that you’re aware of symptoms of cyanide poisoning in your dog so you can get them help as soon as possible.

If you aren’t aware of the signs, and your pup is only showing mild symptoms, you may think that they’re okay or that they’ve only got a stomachache. This is dangerous because waiting too long to treat cyanide poisoning in your dog could turn fatal.

Common symptoms of cyanide poisoning in dogs include:

  • Bright red gums, lips or tongue
  • Heavy panting or other signs of difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Death

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What to do if your dog ingests a crab apple

Time is of the essence if your dog eats a crab apple or any other food that contains cyanogenic glycoside. Knowing the symptoms and acting quickly can save your dog’s life, so keep a plan in the back of your mind in case of emergencies.

  1. Download the ASPCA mobile app. Before you ever have to worry about your dog ingesting a crab apple, set yourself up with information to prevent it. The app includes mountains of resources to help you keep your pet safe, from lists of toxic plants to poison symptoms.
  2. Watch your dog carefully after the fact. If you’re unsure if your dog ingested the fruit or leaves, keep a close eye on them for the next couple hours to see if any symptoms develop. Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you’re sure they’re experiencing symptoms.
  3. Call your veterinarian or emergency animal hospital. Even if your dog is only displaying mild symptoms, take them in to be looked at by a professional. Your vet will be able to help your dog get stable and assess the damage quickly.
  4. Be prepared to answer all questions about your dog’s poisoning. The proper information can determine treatment. You should be able to tell your vet your dog’s age, breed, sex and weight. You should also be able to clearly tell them all symptoms, exactly what your dog ate, and how long it has been since they ingested the toxic substance.
Grow Your Yard Tip
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I keep my dog away from a crab apple tree in my yard?

If there’s a crab apple tree located on your property, at your pup’s favorite park, or along your regular route, it’s important to stay vigilant. You can train your dog to stay away from the tree, but that may take time and the help of a professional trainer. If the tree is on your property, put a fence around it, if possible. Regularly pick up the fallen fruit and take it out of your dog’s reach.

What other plants and foods contain cyanogenic glycoside?

Cyanogenic glycoside shows up in other forms of apples, including the traditional apples you get at the grocery store . But other fruits are toxic to dogs as well, specifically fruits like cherries, peaches, plums, pears, and apricots. The ASPCA website contains a full, extensive list of toxic plants for dogs and cats, so be sure to check it thoroughly before feeding your dog any food not approved by your veterinarian.


Crab apples can be a tasty snack if eaten correctly, but sharing it with your four-legged companion is risky. Since the seeds, leaves, and twigs of a crab apple are highly toxic to dogs, it’s safer to keep the fruit away from your furry friend altogether. Make sure you know how to identify crab apples and other toxic plants, know the signs of poisoning in your dog, and have a plan in place in case of emergencies. If you’re alert and aware, you can keep your pup happy and safe!

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