There is no straight answer to whether dogs can eat nuts or not. Indeed, some nuts are a source of various beneficial nutrients for your dog, but other nuts have certain health risks that you need to consider.
While some nuts, like peanuts and cashews, aren’t poisonous to dogs, they are high in fat and sodium, so they can do more harm than good when given in excess.
Some other nuts, like walnuts and pistachios, can cause poisoning in dogs due to some substances they carry.
Read on to learn more about how to feed your dog nuts, as well as the various benefits and risks of adding nuts to your pet’s diet.
Why Nuts Can Be Dangerous for Dogs?
Despite the benefits of some nuts for dogs, they should not become a staple part of your dog’s diet because they do carry some health risks.
1. Nuts have high-fat content that can cause pancreatitis in dogs
Nuts are high-fat food that can cause pancreatitis in dogs. This is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed.
Symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and abdominal pain.
While any dog can develop pancreatitis, seniors and those who are overweight are at greater risk. Nuts should be avoided altogether if your dog has pancreatitis or is at risk of developing the condition.
2. Nuts can have coatings that are toxic for dogs
Store-bought nuts generally are salted. If a dog ingests a large amount of salt, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, extreme thirst, and seizures.
In some cases, it can lead to sodium ion poisoning and even worsen the condition of pets with kidney problems.
The spices and sugars used on flavored nuts can irritate your dog’s stomach or cause water retention.
3. Nuts can pose a risk of choking dogs
Giving your dog whole nuts as a treat is an unsafe practice. Small, hard nuts and the shells of nuts can cause choking or lodge in your dog’s internal digestive system, causing severe harm to your pet.
3. Nuts have high calories that can cause weight gain for dogs
If your dog is already overweight or suffers from obesity, you should avoid feeding him nuts. This is because nuts are packed with calories, so be sure not to let your pet overindulge.
There are about 567 calories per 100 grams of peanuts, as an example.
Which Types of Nuts Dogs Can’t Eat?
There are many varieties of nuts, some of which are dog-friendly and others that dogs can’t eat. Here are some nut varieties you should avoid adding to your pet’s meal.
1. Black Walnuts
Dogs can’t eat black walnuts as this type of nut contains juglone, an allopathic toxin found in all parts of the black walnut trees, including the leaves, bark, nuts, and husks.
This toxin can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness in dogs if they consume even a small amount.
2. Bitter Almonds
Bitter almonds are sweet almonds sometimes used to make the almond extract and almond liqueurs. These almonds can be lethal in their raw state, whether consumed by humans or dogs.
They contain traces of prussic acid or hydrocyanic acid, which is the organic version of cyanide.
3. Brazil Nuts
While Brazil nuts are not toxic for dogs, they have one of the highest concentrations of fat of any nut variety. There are 66 grams of fat in 100 grams of Brazil nuts.
This means that just one nut could lead to an upset stomach and potential health problems for small dogs.
Dogs can eat unsalted, uncoated hazelnuts. However, be careful as hazelnuts pose one of the worst choking hazards of all nuts.
The hard round shape of hazelnuts is challenging for your dog to digest and can cause choking or form a blockage in the digestive tract.
5. Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts are incredibly toxic to dogs. Dogs that eat even a small amount of macadamia nuts can experience an adverse reaction. Common poisoning symptoms include weakness in the back legs, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Pecans should not be fed to your dog. They can also cause choking, but additionally, they contain aflatoxin and juglones, toxins that can be harmful to dogs.
7. Pine Nuts
Pine nuts are not toxic for dogs; however, they are high in fat. Additionally, pine nuts contain elevated phosphorus levels with 35mg of phosphorus per 100g of pine nuts.
Too much phosphorus in your dog’s food could lead to kidney problems or bladder stones over time.
8. Hickory Nuts
While not toxic for dogs, Hickory nuts can lead to an upset stomach or cause choking or intestinal obstruction. As with walnuts, moldy hickory nuts can contain mycotoxins which are poisonous to dogs.
Are There Any Health Benefits of Nuts?
Despite the downsides of nuts for dogs, there are some benefits to feeding your dog these treats.
- Nuts can help picky dogs eat better: If your pup is picky about what he eats, adding some delicious nuts to his meals can help him wolf down his dinner as most pets love the taste.
- Nuts supply your dog with protein: Nuts contain protein that your dog needs to support strong muscles and for his overall health and well-being.
- Nut fiber helps your dog’s digestion and weight management: Nut fiber aids with weight management and blood sugar regulation in dogs.
While fiber is not a vital nutrient in a dog’s diet, it offers some benefits. It helps to regulate digestion and can contribute to a feeling of fullness, which can aid dogs who are overweight or have a tendency to overeat.
Fiber also helps to promote healthy gut bacteria, which can boost overall immunity.
- Nuts make an excellent training treat for your dog: Nuts make a tasty and rewarding training treat for your pet. Most dogs love the taste, and nuts are small enough to carry around in your pocket or hand when teaching your dog new tricks.
- Nuts are rich in antioxidants: Antioxidants in nuts can help protect your dog against cell damage and improve his overall health. For example, Brazilian nuts contain selenium, an important mineral that helps to boost your dog’s immune system.
- Essential fatty acids in nuts promote healthy skin in dogs: Nuts, specifically cashew nuts, are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, making them an ideal treat for dogs with dry, flaky skin.
Which Types of Nuts Are Safe for Dogs?
Instead of feeding your dog black walnuts, or macadamia nuts, there are some nuts you can consider that will make a tasty treat for your pet.
Plain, unsalted roasted cashews are generally safe for your dogs to eat in moderation. Cashews are a great source of calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and Vitamins K and B6.
Just be sure to avoid giving your pet flavored or salted cashews that contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs.
Dogs can eat non-salted, dry-roasted peanuts, as long as they’re removed from their shell. Peanuts are a great source of protein, phosphorus, manganese, niacin, Vitamin E, and other essential vitamins and minerals.
However, peanuts have a high amount of sodium, which can be harmful to dogs if eaten in large quantities. So it’s best to serve peanuts in moderation to your dog.
3. Sweet Chestnuts
Sweet chestnuts are non-toxic for dogs to consume as occasional treats. Roasting sweet chestnuts is the best way to serve them to your pet.
Be sure to avoid pre-cooked chestnuts as they usually contain seasonings or additives that may upset your dog’s stomach.
If you want to give your dog some pistachios, keep them to minimal amounts and only occasionally. Look for plain pistachios that don’t add extra condiments or salt or contain additional herbs or spices.
You can also try crushing some pistachios and sprinkling them over your dog’s food as a tasty topper to entice picky eaters.
Also, be sure to remove the shell before feeding pistachios to your pet. The shell is hard for your dog to chew and can cause digestive problems.
Pistachios can also contain aspergillus mold, which can lead to pistachio poisoning, particularly in dogs with existing medical conditions or an already compromised immune system.
Summary Overview: Safe and Unsafe Nuts
As you can see, there are some nuts your dog can consume in small quantities while others they shouldn’t eat at all.
For safe nut varieties like peanuts and cashews, the nuts should be served to your pet plain and unsalted. Just remember all nuts are high in fat, so they should be served to your pet sparingly.
How to Serve Nuts to Your Dogs?
If you want to give your dog some nuts, keep it to small amounts and only occasionally. Opt for plain, roasted unsalted nuts that haven’t been mixed with other ingredients such as sugar, raisins, or chocolate.
These unsalted nuts can be offered plainly to your dog or added to a variety of homemade pet treat recipes.
1. Unshelled Nuts
Be sure to remove any shells from your nuts before giving them to your dog. Unshelled nuts can pose a choking hazard, and they can also contain harmful toxins that can be detrimental to your dog’s health.
2. Dry-Roasted or Raw Unsalted Nuts
If you plan to feed your dog nuts, ensure you only opt for low salt or unsalted nuts and nut butter. As discussed, dry roasted nuts are high in fat and salt, which can cause digestive upset and weight gain in dogs.
3. Boiled Nuts
If you’re feeding your dog boiled nuts, it’s best to serve them in plain and unsalted flavor. Also, avoid giving them nuts with the shell.
The shells can be a choking hazard and can cause irritation when swallowed due to their rough texture.
How many nuts can I feed my dog?
If your dog is not allergic to nuts, you can offer him one or two nuts at a time occasionally. Nuts are high in calories and fats so it’s not good for dogs to eat too many nuts daily.
For instance, 100 grams of peanuts contain a whopping 567 calories.
When should dogs eat nuts?
When it comes to feeding nuts to dogs, there is no hard and fast rule about when they should eat them. If your pooch has not tried eating nuts before and you want to share it with him, why don’t you turn it into a significant occasion?
Serve him peanuts on 13 September, which is World Peanut Day, or cashews on 23 November, which is National Cashew Day!
When should dogs not eat peanuts?
Just like humans, dogs can have allergies to peanuts. Although not as common as in humans, nut allergies can occur. In some cases, these allergies can be mild.
However, in severe cases, dogs can experience anaphylactic shock, which can be deadly.
There are other instances when dogs should not eat peanuts. For example, if a dog is overweight or obese, eating peanuts can contribute to weight gain and make it even harder for him to lose weight.
In addition, peanuts can cause or worsen pancreatitis in dogs, which is a serious condition and can be fatal.
Therefore, it’s important to consult with a vet before giving nuts to your dog. If your vet gives a go signal, then be sure to feed your dog nuts in moderation.
What Happens If Dogs Eat Too Many Nuts?
If your dog eats too many nuts over time, he will likely be prone to gaining extra weight, which could lead to heart and immune system complications.
Consuming too many nuts in one sitting could also cause your pet vomiting, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal upset and put him at an increased risk of poisoning.
What to do if your dog eats toxic nuts?
On the off chance that your dog accidentally gets hold of a few harmful nuts, it will be wise to take these steps.
- Do Not Panic: Firstly, it’s important to try to relax since anxiety and fear may get in the way of you helping your dog rationally. Also, since canines can be very sensitive to our emotions, your pet will likely sense your feelings and become agitated. By remaining calm, you can help him feel safe and secure amidst his condition.
- Get in Touch with a Professional: If your dog eats any type of nut that is toxic, contact your veterinarian or local animal hospital right away. They will be able to advise you on the best steps to take.
- Keep The Packaging: It’s necessary for your vet to know what type of nuts your dog consumed and how much. If you can, be sure to hold on to any packaging remnants to show to your vet.
- Follow Your Vet’s Advice: The expert will give you treatment advice based on your dog’s situation, taking into consideration the symptoms and the amount and type of nuts consumed. This may include watching your dog closely and trying to induce vomiting or giving fluids.
In some cases, they may advise you to bring your pet in if they start to show any signs of illness.
How do I prevent my dog from eating toxic nuts?
The best way to prevent your dog from eating toxic nuts is to make sure he cannot get a hold of them. This means keeping them out of sight, and out of reach, as well as cleaning up any nuts that fall to the ground.
Also, it’s important to keep an eye on your dog when they’re outside, especially in an area where trees or plants that produce nuts grow.
If you have one on your property, you may want to consider fencing off the area to keep your pet safe. By taking these precautions, you can help keep your dog healthy and safe.
What are Safe Alternatives to Nuts for Dogs
Instead of giving your dog nuts, you can consider other foods that will make your pet a tasty treat.
- Chicken is a good source of protein and essential minerals, such as phosphorus and selenium. It also has vitamin B6, which is important for glucose generation, and helps keep the nervous system healthy.
- Chickpeas are okay to feed your dog when bland and uncooked. They offer lots of health benefits for dogs. They are packed full of fiber, vitamins B6 and K, as well as other nutrients such as folate, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and magnesium.
- Turkey is a novel protein source that also offers riboflavin and phosphorus. These nutrients are important in the maintenance of muscles, the production of red blood cells, and the optimal functioning of the kidneys, respectively.
- Cranberries are safe to feed to your pet in small quantities. However, many dogs don’t like the bitter taste of cranberries. Also, dried cranberries are often mixed with raisins, which are harmful to dogs, so check before feeding.
- Duck is an excellent source of protein for dogs, and it’s also rich in iron. Apart from being easy for dogs to digest, it has fat that is rich in linoleic acid, which helps keep skin and coat healthy.
- Pineapple is a great tropical fruit for your pup. Be careful not to overdo it with this sweet, sugary fruit. A few small pieces will be plenty for your dog.
- Sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of vitamin A, fiber, vitamin C and B6, potassium, calcium, and iron.
- Coconut is also high in fiber which aids in your dog’s digestion and weight management. It also contains fatty acid and lauric acid which are great anti-inflammatory. Lauric acid will also help your dog fight off any viruses, yeast infections, ringworm, and Giardia.
What’s the Verdict? Can Dogs Eat Nuts?
Dogs can safely eat some types of nuts, such as cashews and pistachios. That is if they are plain, unsalted, and removed from their shells.
Ensure also that when feeding your dog nuts, you should give them in moderation as too much could cause a health risk for your dog.
Before introducing a new food like nuts to your dog, it’s always best to consult with your vet. This is because dogs with existing medical conditions, like obesity, might suffer when fed foods that are high in fat and calories, like nuts.
Does your dog like nuts? How does he enjoy it? Kindly share the different ways you share it with your pet in the comments below!