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Are Elderberry Trees Safe for Dogs?

Person holding branches full of elderberries in one hand and single berries in the other

According to ASPCA, Elderberry trees are not safe for dogs because unripe elderberries contain cyanogenic glycosides and are poisonous. However, elderberry becomes safe for consumption (for dogs and humans) when it is completely ripe.

Elderberry Tree Information

Elderberry trees on a farm

The scientific name of elderberry is Sambucus and it comes from the Adoxaceae family. These berries are safe to eat but only once they are fully ripe. The fruit is frequently used in making different edible items, like jellies and desserts. Similarly, the leaves of Elderberry trees are used to make tea. However, these trees are still not safe for canines because amygdalin is present in all the other parts.

Elderberry trees are also known as “Elder” trees and come in different types. The most common elderberries are black, red, blue, and gold. All of these elderberries should not be eaten unless they have fully ripened. It is also recommended to use these ripened elderberries after fermentation.

Are Elderberry Trees Safe for Dogs?

close up of elderberries

No! The toxicity level of the elderberry tree is high because it contains a cyanogenic glycoside, called Amygdalin. The fully-ripe berries are less toxic but still, they can be dangerous for dogs and should be avoided.

Why is Elderberry Toxic to Dogs?

The dilapidation of the amygdalin inside the digestive tract of dogs can produce very toxic hydrogen cyanide. It will have the same effect even if it is as little as 2mg per kilogram of body weight. This cyanide poisoning can cause rapid death (generally taking less than an hour from digestion). However, the exact duration depends on the quantity of elderberry tree your dog swallowed.  

Ingesting elderberry trees may cause vomiting and diarrhea to your pooch. Other than that, the dogs may also have unusual breathing and dribbling due to the cyanide poison. Likewise, toxic elderberries can result in dilated pupils and can drop blood pressure. Fluid accretion in the chest or abdomen and annexations are also among the common symptoms of this cyanide toxicity.

All of these signs will ultimately cause death (within 30-45 minutes) if not treated within the first 15-20 minutes after eating.

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