Dogs can go nuts for nuts. But should they eat them?
Some nuts can be harmless for dogs, while others can wreak havoc on their digestive system.
Before you pick a nutty butter to stuff your dog’s Kong toy or serve doggie trail mix to your four-legged companion, learn what crunchy goodness is safe for them to eat and which nuts are poisonous!
Nuts That Dogs Can Eat
Although nuts have a lot of health benefits when included in a human diet, the long-term effect of eating nuts on canine health is still an unexplored area. The prevailing theory is that nuts are too calorie dense and fatty for canines and that they* shouldn’t be a regular part of their diet*.
However, most animal experts agree that occasionally giving a few nuts to your dog will not harm them. The only thing you need to know is which nuts your dog can eat.
Although peanuts are safe for dogs to eat, they can’t be salted, coated, candied, or caramelized. Dogs can’t eat peanuts in shells, but a few bare peanuts, whether roasted or raw, make a healthy reward. However, peanuts are high in fat, so make sure to keep peanut treats to a minimum.
OK, this one is not technically a nut, but it’s everybody’s favorite nut-based yumminess (canines included), which earned it a spot on this list. Peanut butter is good for dogs, but only if it’s not loaded with artificial preservatives, sodium, and sugar. Before you treat your pooch to a spoonful of creamy (or chunky!) deliciousness, check the label for any ingredients that might be harmful to canines. And when I say spoonful, I mean it - just a little occasional lick and not a peanut butter feast.
A welcome guest at Thanksgiving feasts, roasted chestnuts will not harm your pooch. But, like all other nuts, these round, delicious bites are full of fat and can be hard on your pooch’s tummy if they overindulge. Even in the form of a puree, roasted chestnuts should be given to dogs only in small quantities.
Nuts to Avoid
These nuts can be eaten by dogs, but tend to cause more trouble than they’re worth. So, if your pooch got a hold of a few nuts from this group while you weren’t looking, you shouldn’t panic. Just make sure it doesn’t happen again!
Dogs can eat almond nuts as they are not toxic to them, but canines tend to digest almonds poorly. Even a small amount of unsalted almonds can upset your dog’s stomach or, if the pooch in question is more sensitive, gastric intestinal distress. Of course, it’s important to note that you should never give sugar coated or chocolate-covered almonds to your dog.
First of all, let me make something clear: dogs can eat hazelnuts, in theory. They are not toxic to canines, and your pooch won’t have any problems if they ate a couple unsalted, uncoated hazelnuts, but there is another problem that can cause issues. Hazelnuts are just about the right size to be a choking hazard or to cause intestinal obstruction. Small dogs can choke on hazelnuts, and larger dogs tend to gobble them up without chewing, which leads to hazelnuts getting stuck in their intestines and causing significant problems.
For healthy dogs, a shelled, unsalted cashew or two won’t be harmful. The cashews must be roasted or baked, because when raw, they can contain a dangerous toxin, similar to the one found in poison ivy. But, even though they are technically safe for dogs to eat (in the right form), cashews have a high level of potassium and can cause health issues with dogs that are prone to urinary problems.
Nuts Dog Can’t Eat
In general, all nuts can be dangerous for dogs if they consume too much of them. But nuts from this list can be poisonous to dogs and cause various health problems, even if given as treats.
Same as with other human foods you’re thinking of giving to your dog, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and stay away from these nuts altogether.
English walnuts, Japanese walnuts, and black walnuts - should not be fed to pets. Apart from the risk of intestinal obstruction and stomach irritation, walnuts can be toxic to dogs. Moldy walnuts (any variety) can contain fungi called tremorgenic mycotoxins, and if your dog is exposed to it, they can have seizures and other dangerous neurological complications.
These green nuts are a human favorite, but when it comes to canines, pistachios can be dangerous. They can carry Aspergillus mold that produces aflatoxin and can wreak havoc on your dog’s liver. Apart from risky fungi lurking about, pistachios are also a choking hazard and can block your pooch’s intestine - particularly when not shelled.
A slice of pecan pie might be just what you need on a rainy day, but your pooch should stay away from these tasty nuts! Same as pistachios, pecans can have aflatoxin, a substance that can cause liver damage to dogs. Pecans can also contain juglone, a toxin that’s harmful to dogs and horses.
Whether raw or roasted, macadamia nuts are poisonous to dogs in any form. Just like with raisins, scientists have yet to discover what substance present in these nuts causes toxicity in canines, but the effects can be severe. Dogs who have eaten macadamia nuts have been known to experience weakness in their legs, vomit, shiver, have diarrhea and fever. Your dog might get all of the symptoms of macadamia poisoning, or just a few of them. Even one macadamia nut can seriously harm your dog, so contact a vet immediately if you suspect your pooch got their paws on these nuts or you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms.
Even though pine nuts are not on any lists of nuts toxic to dogs, it’s still not a good idea to feed them to your pet. High in fat and phosphorus, pine nuts can irritate your dog’s stomach even when eaten in small quantities. If your dog has eaten a large amount of pine nuts or has been eating them regularly, they might develop pancreatitis or urinary tract complications.
Brazil nuts are not toxic to dogs, but they are not suitable for them either. Dubbed as one of the fattiest nuts out there (and that says a lot), brazil nuts can upset your dog’s stomach and cause a myriad of digestive issues. Long-term, eating brazil nuts can cause pancreatitis in canines, so it’s best to avoid giving these fatty nuts to your pooch.
All things considered, nuts are not the best choice for your four-legged best friend. Even though not all nuts are dangerous for dogs, prolonged consumption of nuts can lead to canine obesity and serious health issues such as pancreatitis.
High in fat content and often sodium and phosphorus as well, nuts should not be a regular part of your dog’s diet.
If your dog happens to steal a nut or two from your stash, monitor their behavior. In case the nuts your dog ate were from the list of nuts you shouldn’t give to your pooch, contact a veterinarian to avoid any potential health complications.