The aronia bush -- often called the black chokeberry -- may or may not be toxic to canines and felines, but any symptoms after consumption are mild to moderate. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals notes that the aronia bush is a relative of Aronia melanocarpa or Photinia melanocarpa that harbor cyanogenic glycosides. The organization recommends keeping pets away from it, to stay on the safe side. On the other hand, aronia berries are harvested as a health food and touted as cancer-fighting agents rich in vitamins, especially vitamin C.
Aronia bushes are woody, deciduous shrubs that thrive in a variety of soils. They are native to the Eastern part of the United States, and are usually found on the edge of woodlands. Aronias prefer full sun, but can do well in partial shade. When full-grown, aronias sport in excess of 40 stems per plant. Aronias produce clusters of 10 to 15 berries -- technically, pomes, like apples -- per shoot. These fruits ripen in late summer and early fall.
While grown commercially, aronia bushes are not often used in the garden or for landscaping. They aren't found in the wild as often as they were decades ago, as suburban sprawl and the planting of field crops have usurped much of their habitat.
While the black chokeberry may not cause harm to Fido, that's not the case with a bush of similar appearance and habitat, a sort of cousin to the aronia bush. The chokecherry, Prunus virginiana, does contain cyanogenic glycosides.
Cyanogenic Glycoside Poisoning
Dogs consuming plants containing cyanogenic glycosides may display various symptoms. These include:
- Pupil dilation
- Breathing issues
- Red gums
If a dog consumes a great deal of the plant, he could go into shock and even die. If your dog consumes chokecherry, take him to the emergency vet immediately. If he eats part of an aronia bush, watch him carefully and call your vet.