Can Dogs Eat Walnuts? Are Walnuts Safe For Your Dog as a Treat?

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Yes and no. Some kinds of walnuts are safe for your dog to eat, but they are not the best option as a dog treat.

If your pet eats fresh walnuts in small numbers, there’s no need to panic.

Walnuts in shells

However, feeding him walnuts as a regular dog treat is not recommended. You need to take note of some risk factors and potential toxicities.

Keep reading to find out which types of walnuts are safe or toxic for dogs, when they can be safe for pets and when they’re dangerous or even fatal.

Are Walnuts For Dogs Worth The Risk? Are There Health Benefits?

Walnuts in a wooden bowl
Walnuts in a bowl

Fresh English Walnuts are generally safe for your dog to consume. They offer health benefits for your pet if given in small amounts and as an occasional treat.

Walnuts are packed with protein, fiber, omega fatty acids, magnesium, and antioxidants, essential nutrients your pet needs to stay healthy and thrive.

Although fresh walnuts are not toxic for your dog, there are plenty of better dog treats that you can share with your furry friend.

Aside from that, the dangers of feeding your pet walnuts outweigh their health benefits.

What are the Health Risks of Walnuts for Dogs?

A Corgi puppy looking up
A Corgi pup wants some walnuts – Image source

Walnuts can impose risks on your dog’s health. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t give walnuts to your pet as a regular treat.

  • Digestive Problems: The high-fat content of walnuts can upset stomachs and cause diarrhea or vomiting in some dogs. In severe cases, consuming too many walnuts could lead to excessive weight gain, obesity, or pancreatitis.
  • Choking: Walnuts are one of the largest varieties of nuts. They are bigger than peanuts, which can be difficult for dogs to digest and pose a choking hazard, especially for small dog breeds like Maltese and Yorkies. Walnut shells might also cause an intestinal blockage as they can get stuck in your dog’s intestine.
  • Poisoning: While a small number of fresh walnuts is unlikely to cause serious harm, eating even a small amount of moldy or spoiled walnuts can lead to poisoning. The mold that grows on walnuts can produce mycotoxins, which can cause liver damage and even tremors and seizures in dogs.

What’s in walnuts that are harmful to dogs?

As discussed, feeding your pet fresh English walnuts in small quantities can be OK. However, the black or moldy walnuts contain some substances that are toxic for your dog.

1. Juglone 

Black walnut trees contain an allopathic toxin known as Juglone. This toxin can leach into the ground and cause problems for dogs, specifically their paws.

These black walnuts infected with mold can also cause serious health issues for your dog’s digestive system.

2. Mycotoxins

As mentioned, walnuts are prone to becoming infected with fungi due to their high moisture content, especially if they are stored for a long time in damp conditions. 

These fungi are either black or white and can contain harmful tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can cause seizures in your dog.

Ingesting fungi can also lead to vomiting, indigestion, and diarrhea. 

Is There Any Dog Breed Allergic to Walnuts?

Although it’s less common for dogs to have allergies to nuts than it is for humans, it’s still possible. In fact, all kinds of nuts can trigger allergies in dogs, including walnuts.

The symptoms of a nut allergy in dogs are similar to those in humans and can include itching, skin rashes, hair loss, and difficulty breathing. 

If your dog shows any of these signs after eating walnuts or coming into contact with them, it’s necessary to take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Allergies can be severe and even life-threatening, so it’s necessary to get your dog checked out by a professional if you think they may be allergic to anything.

What Happens If Dogs Eat Too Many Walnuts?

A French Bulldog lying in bed
Kompot, a Frenchie, needs to rest after eating walnuts – Image source

While walnuts are safe for dogs to eat in moderation, eating too many can cause gastrointestinal distress.

The symptoms of walnut toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, walnuts can cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. 

If your dog has eaten many walnuts, it’s necessary to seek veterinary care immediately.

Treatment typically involves providing supportive care until the symptoms resolve. With prompt treatment, most dogs make a full recovery from walnut toxicity.

How Should Dogs Eat Walnuts?

If you want to share fresh walnuts with your dog, keep them at a minimum and only occasionally.

Look for plain walnuts that don’t have salt or condiments added or don’t contain additional herbs or spices.

You can also try crushing some walnuts and sprinkling them over your dog’s food as a tasty topper to entice picky eaters.

Are Walnuts a Good Treat for Dogs?

An English Bulldog puppy looking up
Roman, an English Bulldog pup, asks for walnut treats – Image source

Many dog owners are looking for healthy and affordable treat options and wonder if walnuts are a good option.

While walnuts are a protein-rich food, they also contain high levels of fat.

This can potentially lead to weight gain and pancreatitis in dogs. In addition, the hard shell of the walnut can pose a choking hazard.

For these reasons, it’s best not to use walnuts as a regular treat.

If you want to give your dog a tasty protein-packed treat, you’d be much better off with a small piece of turkey, chicken, or egg. 

When should dogs eat walnuts?

As mentioned, giving fresh walnuts to your pet in small numbers can be OK.

If you want to try feeding your dog walnuts for the first time, why not turn it into a special occasion and give him walnuts over the festive season or on 17 May, which is National Walnut Day!

While the occasional walnut is not likely to harm your dog, it’s important to avoid feeding them table scraps.

Dogs are scavengers by nature, and they will beg for food even when they are not hungry.

If you give in and feed them scraps from your meal, they may start to expect this treatment all the time.

When should dogs not eat walnuts?

While some pet owners believe that feeding their dog walnuts will provide some health benefits, there’s no significant evidence to support this claim.

In fact, walnuts are relatively high in calories and fat, leading to weight gain and other health problems in dogs.

What are the Food Recipes Made with Walnuts for Dogs?

If your vet occasionally gives the “go” signal to add walnuts into your dog’s food bowl, consider mixing walnuts with other dog-friendly foods.

Fortunately, walnuts are relatively easy to incorporate into your dog’s diet. Here are a few simple recipes that your furry friend is sure to love:

  1. Walnut and Apple Treat: Finely chop up walnut and mix it with some diced apples. This tasty snack is perfect for small dogs who need a little energy boost.
  2. Walnut and Chicken Dinner: For a hearty meal, cook some chicken and stir in chopped walnuts before serving. This dish is sure to please even the pickiest eaters.
  3. Walnut and Yogurt Treat: Mix chopped walnuts with plain yogurt for a delicious and healthy snack. This treat is perfect for hot summer days when your dog needs to cool off.

Can Dogs Eat Walnuts in the Shell? Can They Eat Food Products Made from Walnuts?

A close-up image of walnuts
Half-shelled and unshelled walnuts

Let’s find out why walnuts in shells can be dangerous, especially for smaller dogs.

Also, let’s look at the different types of walnut food products to see which would suit your pet. 

1. Walnut Shells

Just as you wouldn’t eat walnut shells, you shouldn’t feed them to your pet.

The hard outer shells of walnuts are tough for your dog to digest and can cause it to choke or form a blockage in its digestive tract.

Shelled walnuts are also at a higher risk of fungal contamination since they don’t have protection.

2. Walnut Oil

It isn’t recommended to give your dog walnut oil. It doesn’t contain any health benefits for your dog, and the high-fat content poses a significant health risk.

That said, a small amount of walnut oil can make your dog’s dry food taste better as long as you’re mindful of calories and adjust your dog’s food portions accordingly.

3. Walnut Butter

While dogs can eat butter, try to avoid adding flavored butter like walnut butter to your dog’s diet, as these can harm your pet.

Store-bought walnut butter can have too much added salt and fat for your dog. Too much fat and calories might lead to an upset stomach for your dog. 

4. Walnut Ice Cream

Walnut ice cream contains too much-added sugar making it not safe for your dog to eat.

It can also contain chemicals that shouldn’t be fed to your pet and toxic ingredients like raisins and chocolate.

Also, dogs are unable to probably digest lactose, causing dairy products like ice cream to give them an upset stomach. 

5. Walnut Cake

The commercially-made walnut cake will be full of fat and sugar and should be avoided.

Feeding your dog too much fat or sugar can lead to an inflamed pancreas. Pancreatitis is a serious condition that can land your dog in the hospital. 

If you want to give your doggo a cake for his birthday, you can try to make a dog-safe recipe at home where you can control what ingredients are included.

6. Walnut Bread

Dogs shouldn’t be given too much bread as their body can negatively react to the high gluten content.

In addition, many of the ingredients typically used in walnut bread, such as sugar and butter, can be extremely unhealthy for your dog.

7. Black Walnut

As mentioned, black walnuts can cause serious health problems for dogs due to the naturally occurring mold and toxins in this plant.

These toxins can lead to numerous gut problems for your pet.

8. English Walnut

English walnuts, commonly used for cooking, are the safest walnuts to give to your dog. They contain low levels of juglone and are not as toxic as the Black Walnut.

However, they’re high in fat and calories and should be consumed in small quantities and as a rare treat.

Are Cooked or Raw Walnuts Better for Dogs?

Dogs can eat walnuts raw or roasted as long as they are removed from their shells.

The problem is that most roasted walnuts you buy at the store have been roasted with salt. These are very unhealthy for dogs due to the high fat and salt content. 

Some people believe that cooking walnuts will help kill the harmful toxins found in them.

Still, unfortunately, mycotoxins are chemical by-products and not living organisms and are not killed at high temperatures like bacteria.

However, it is recommended that you wash walnuts before eating to get rid of some of the fungal growth. 

Are Other Nuts Safe for Dogs?

A Kooikerhondje dog with a cashew
Cashew, a Kooikerhondje, is not sure if he should eat a cashew – Image source

There are wide varieties of nuts, some of which are safe for your dog and others that dogs can’t eat. Here are some nut varieties you should avoid adding to your dog’s diet.

1. Almonds

Dogs cannot eat almonds. Almonds can cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas, lethargy, and a loss of appetite.

As almonds have a high-fat content, they can also put your dog at risk of developing pancreatitis.

Due to their small size and hard texture, almonds can also cause an obstruction or lead to choking in dogs.

2. Pecans

Pecans, like almonds, should not be fed to your dog. Pecans not only cause your dog to choke but also contain aflatoxin and juglones, toxins that are harmful to dogs.

2. Cashews

While dogs can safely eat cashews, these nuts are very high in fat.

It doesn’t take a lot of cashews to reach your dog’s recommended daily fat intake, so if you plan to feed your dog a few of these nuts, remember to go easy.

3. Roasted Chickpea

Bland, cooked chickpeas are OK to feed your dog and have many health benefits for dogs.

They are packed full of fiber and vitamins K and B6, and nutrients folate, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and magnesium. 

That said, the roasted variants can be a choking risk, and the seasonings and salt used in roasted chickpeas are not suitable for your dog and negate the health benefits of feeding your dog chickpeas.

4. Peanuts

One of the most common nuts, dogs can eat peanuts. Peanuts are safe to feed to your dog raw or roasted, as long as they are removed from their shell and unsalted.

While peanut allergies are common in humans, an allergy to peanuts doesn’t seem quite as common or severe for dogs. 

However, like other nuts, peanuts do have a high-fat content and can cause a digestive upset; as a result, so be sure to feed them in moderation.

Also, be sure the peanuts aren’t mixed with raisins, which are toxic for dogs.

5. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are highly 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.

5. Pistachios

Pistachios can contain aspergillus mold. As pistachio shells typically split just before harvesting, they are more likely to be exposed to aspergillus mold than other nuts.

This mold can lead to pistachio poisoning, particularly in dogs with an already compromised immune system.

That said, feeding a healthy dog a small number of pistachios should be ok.

6. Hickory Nuts

Hickory nuts, while not toxic for dogs, 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 foods made with walnuts safe for dogs?

Walnuts are a common ingredient in many types of food, from cookies and cakes to pesto and granola.

But are foods made with walnuts safe for dogs? The answer is yes and no. 

While a small amount of walnut is not likely to cause serious harm to your dog, larger amounts can be toxic.

The concern with walnuts is that they contain a compound called amygdalin, which breaks down into cyanide when ingested. 

Cyanide is poisonous to humans and pets and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, it can lead to seizures or death.

However, it should be noted that dogs need to eat a large amount of walnut-containing food to experience these symptoms.

So while you may want to avoid feeding your dog foods made with walnuts, a small piece here and it is not likely to cause any harm.

Are dog foods made with walnuts healthier for dogs?

Each dog is unique and may require a different diet based on age, size, energy level, and health conditions.

While some people believe walnuts are a “superfood” that can provide health benefits for dogs, walnuts are not an essential part of a dog’s diet and should only be given in moderation and as an occasional treat.

How Many Walnuts Can Dogs Eat?

A dog sniffing walnuts
A dog harvesting walnuts with its owner

When it comes to feeding your dog walnuts, moderation is key. According to the “10% rule,” no more than ten percent of your dog’s daily calories should come from treats.

For a small dog, that means no more than one or two walnuts per day. For a large dog, it means no more than ten. 

It’s also important to be extra careful, as some dogs may be allergic to walnuts.

If you’re unsure whether your dog can tolerate walnuts, start with a small amount and observe for any adverse reactions.

With a little moderation, you can safely enjoy sharing this snack with your furry friend once in a while. 

What are the Dog Food Recipes that Contain Walnuts?

If you want to prepare a homemade meal that includes walnuts for your dog, we have listed some yummy recipes that you can quickly put together for your pooch to get you started.

  1. Homemade Vegan Dog Treat Recipe
  2. Grain-Free Nutty Bones Dog Biscuits
  3. Pumpkin, Walnut, and Peanut Butter Dog Treats

What are the dog food products that contain walnuts?

Most reputable dog food and treat companies won’t include walnuts in their recipes due to the high salt and fat content.

However, some companies offer treats made with peanut butter so your pet can still benefit from the nuts’ various nutrients. 

  1. SmartBones SmartSticks Peanut Butter Chews Dog Treats
  2. American Journey Peanut Butter Recipe Oven Baked Crunchy Biscuit Dog Treats
  3. Hill’s Natural Soft Savories with Peanut Butter & Banana Dog Treats

Can Dogs Eat Walnut Derivatives?

Walnuts, particularly those gathered from backyard trees, are susceptible to a type of black mold that is highly toxic to dogs.

While it’s possible to wash and dry walnuts and remove any potential mold, the better move is just to avoid feeding them.

If you have a walnut tree in your backyard and your pet accidentally ingests old walnuts off the ground, keep an eye on him for possible adverse effects and contact your veterinarian if needed.

There’s a possibility that he will develop tremors and seizures from walnut hulls that are moldy due to mycotoxins.

What diseases can walnuts help in dogs?

As discussed, the risks of feeding your pet walnuts outweigh their health benefits.

If you’re considering giving nutritious treats to your dog, walnuts are not the best option. There are other healthy dog treats that you can offer to your pet. 

So, Can My Dog Eat Walnuts?

Yes, dogs can eat walnuts if served plain, unsalted, shelled, and given to your pet in moderation.

However, offering walnuts to your pet is not recommended as a regular treat. 

When your dog consumes walnuts regularly or in large quantities, it can cause stomach upset, choking and gastrointestinal blockage, obesity, and pancreatitis.

Also, walnuts can contain harmful toxins that are dangerous for your dog.

Be careful when introducing a new food like walnuts to your pet. It’s best to consult it first with your veterinarian. 

Does your pet love walnuts? We’d love to hear about your furry family member and how he enjoys his walnuts in the comments below.

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