We're trying to diagnose a recurring limp in my 6mo puppy. Been to the vet a few times, x-rays, etc.

But I had a outside thought. He's been eating the apples that fall in the front yard, and I just learned that he shouldn't eat the seeds due to the cyanide. He's been doing it probably for the last 3 months.

So we've dealt with that, but I'm curious if anyone has experience with consistent low-level cyanide poisoning, in a dog or any other animal. Can you be specific about the symptoms? If motor control was effected, was it widespread or at least symmetric, or was it limited e.g. to a specific limb? Did it come and go, or was it persistent? Did the animal recover eventually after removing the cyanide exposure?

Basically, I can find general lists of symptoms, but I'm interested in how it played out in specific cases.

  • Because I have rabbits who love apples I did some research in the cyanide topic. Small rabbits would need to eat 2kg of apple seeds (without apple, seeds only) to get poisoned. I assume your puppy is bigger than a rabbit and that the dog was not able to eat this amount of seeds with apple around, even in 3 month :) Feb 9 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


It's unlikely your puppy ate enough seeds, or for long enough (just 3 months) to cause problems. According to this vet

While it’s unlikely your dog would chew up and eat enough seeds to become ill or die (for comparison, an adult would need to eat about a cup of seeds to suffer any ill effects), it’s still easier and safer to remove seeds and stems before serving the apple to your pet.

Similarly, Modern Dog Magazine

Though the effects of a few apple seeds will likely not harm your dog, the deleterious effects can accumulate over time if allowed to eat apple seeds regularly.

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has a list of symptoms of cyanide poisoning in dogs.

Abnormal behavior, aggression, changing habits, Ataxia, Bloody stools, feces, hematochezia, Coma, Congestion oral mucous membranes, Decreased respiratory rate, Diarrhea, Dysmetria, Dyspnea, Excessive salivation, Excitement, Fecal incontinence, Forelimb spasms, Generalized weakness, Head, face, neck spasms, Hindlimb spasms, Hyperesthesia, Inability to stand, Increased respiratory rate, Miosis, Mydriasis, Seizures or syncope, Sudden death, Urinary incontinence

Since you still don't have a diagnosis for the limping, I would mention the apples next time you see your vet. But in the meantime, I wouldn't worry.

  • Thanks, I've seen those links. As I said, it's easy to come by lists of symptoms (which always include some form of weakness, paralysis, or other ataxia), but I'm interested in specific cases. Furthermore, 1 cup of seeds for a 160 lb adult would correspond to 1 Tbs of seeds for my 10 lb puppy, which he could easily consume in the 2 or 3 apples he sometimes eats in a day. No idea if he breaks the seeds open or not. I'm happy to hear that you don't think 3 months of that is long enough! But can you point me to anything that discusses duration of exposure? None of these links mention it.
    – jmilloy
    Sep 22, 2016 at 18:10

The only way to answer your question directly is to completely avoid future cyanide exposure and see if the problem is resolved. The elimination half life of cyanide in dogs is 19 hours. If it has not resolved in two or three days without cyanide, it's not due to cyanide.

External toxins, such as cyanide, atropine, succinylcholine, etc. will always present with generalized symptoms (as listed in the above answer) because, being distributed by absorption into blood, they will affect the entire individual wherever that toxin can have effects (i.e. wherever tissue has receptors for it).

For example, rhodoendrons contain grayanotoxins. (If you read the article to the end, you'll see it's also a hallucinogen.) During a daily stroll through our woods so they could browse on briars, one of my most beloved goats ate a leaf of a wild azalea before I could reach her. Her (generalized) symptoms included constricted pupils, excessive drooling, dizziness, unsteady gait, tremors, etc. (Treatment is supportive, so I was advised by the vet and Poison Control to bring her in only if she also had x, y, and z, which she did not.) For several hours, she calmly rested against my legs for support (as she could not stand), drooling and trembling. She must have enjoyed her "trip" because she always made an strong attempt to eat from that shrub whenever we passed it afterwards.

The point is, her symptoms were generalized; she didn't have tremors in one leg only, or drool form one side only. Both of her pupils were constricted. The same is true of all ingested toxins. So while it would be comforting to have an answer to your puppy's dilemma, especially one you can prevent, no one will have the same experience you've had with your puppy from ingested cyanide, because it doesn't cause problems in one body part.

As your vet will have most likely told you, this is a hip problem. The cause is unknown still, but it is a hip problem. The fact that it's intermittent indicates the possibilities of an injury which hasn't been able to fully heal, an inflammatory condition that flares and subsides, a low-level infection (not terribly likely), etc.

I had a goat with intermittent foot pain; it turned out to be the first goat with Lyme disease in the state. I also had a puppy with a unilateral hip problem that became so severe she could not stand on her hind legs without yelping. To the best of the vet's knowledge, it was due to an early (? Lyme disease?) infection that was not diagnosed and treated on time.

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