Is a Crabapple Tree Poisonous to Dogs?

By Laura Payne

All apple trees, including the crabapple species, can pose a threat to your dog’s health. The trees contain a toxin that, depending on the amount ingested, can cause minor reactions, such as gastrointestinal upset, to serious reactions, such as respiratory failure and death.

What is the Toxin?

The toxin in apple trees is a cyanogenic glycoside called amygdalin. It is found in stems, leaves and seeds.

  • Seeds have to be chewed for the amygdalin to be released.
  • Dead leaves are more toxic than live leaves because the amygdalin is more concentrated.
  • Make sure to pay close attention to your dog if he is out playing in leaves in the fall.

How Does it Affect Dogs?

When cyanogenic glycosides are digested, they metabolize into cyanide. Cyanide is a poison that can cause low blood oxygen levels, respiratory congestion, respiratory failure, coma and death.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Poisoning?

Signs of poisoning include dilated pupils, panting, brick red mucous membranes, difficulty breathing and shock. Symptoms of poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, a decreased heart rate and seizures. Call your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of the signs or symptoms of poisoning.

What to Do if Your Dog Ingested a Cyanogenic Glycoside?

If you suspect your dog has eaten apple seeds, leaves or twigs, look for signs and symptoms of poisoning, and contact your veterinarian right away. According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, small animals who consume a slight amount of tree material usually only have minor gastrointestinal upset. However, the ASPCA still recommends contacting your veterinarian.