Dogs, peach pits aren’t a good mix


Dear Dr. Thompson: I have a multipoo who weighs almost 12 pounds. Last Tuesday he ate a peach pit and I induced vomiting. His breakfast came up but no pit. I took him immediately to the vet and they did X-rays but saw nothing. She said since the pit is wood it might not show up on the X-ray. He has been having regular bowel movements, eating, and acting normally. Today he started acting lethargic and doesn't want to eat. He tends to sleep a lot during the day but he didn't seem himself this morning. I'm worried that the outside of the pit is being ingested and the arsenic is making him sick.

People are frequently concerned about the toxicity of peach, plum, and apricot pits. The seeds inside of the pit do contain small amounts of cyanide precursor, but he would have needed to thoroughly chew up the woody hull and ingest multiple seeds to likely get a toxic dose. In the rare chance signs of toxicity would develop, you might see bright red gums, salivation, and neurological signs. However, the greater risk to a dog as small as yours would be the potential for a bowel obstruction to develop if the pit becomes lodged in the small intestine.

Early symptoms of an obstruction can be subtle. Some dogs lose their appetite and act lethargic, but most commonly vomiting is the major symptom. X-rays are usually helpful in diagnosing an obstruction, but it can be tricky early on since most of the items pets swallow do not show up well on X-rays. Occasionally, repeated X-rays might be needed to evaluate if anything is moving through the digestive tract. If an obstruction is suspected, surgery might be needed to relieve the obstruction before potentially life-threatening complications develop.

I’m not suggesting that your dog needs to be rushed to surgery just because he skipped a meal, but a history of swallowing something inappropriate warrants a watchful eye to make sure nothing serious develops. Many times something like this will pass with just some temporary digestive upset, but if he starts vomiting, acts painful or doesn’t show interest in food for more than 24 hours, your veterinarian should evaluate him.