As Christmas approaches, the season of nuts begins. And you may have thought about giving your dog a few nuts while you snack on them on the sofa. But are nuts suitable for dogs? Can dogs eat all nuts, or are some poisonous to dogs?
Dogs are allowed to eat some types of nuts, but other nuts are taboo for them. Suitable nuts include peanuts, cashew nuts, pistachios, and coconuts. Walnuts, almonds, macadamia, pecans, and hickory nuts are dangerous for dogs. However, you should only give your dog a small amount of suitable nuts.
Before you give your dog nuts, you should bear in mind that every dog is different, and some do not react well to unfamiliar foods.
You should, therefore, only give your dog a small amount of something new at first. Then, wait 24-48 hours to see if any adverse effects occur.
Signs that your dog is not tolerating the new food include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased gas. It can also happen that dogs develop a rash or itchy skin.
In this article, we explain in detail which nuts are suitable for dogs and which are not. We also look at the health benefits that nuts can have for dogs.
Health and Nutritional Benefits of Nuts
Feeding your dog a variety of treats can help ensure the intake of vitamins and minerals and provide variety.
Recent studies have shown that a varied diet promotes mental stimulation in your dog, which can help slow down the impacts of aging.
Like sesame seeds, nuts also contain some valuable oils, fats, and nutrients such as vitamin B6, copper, and potassium.
But even though nuts have some nutritional benefits, some nuts are actually dangerous for dogs. Let’s take a look at these types of nuts first.
Which Nuts Are Dangerous for Dogs?
Some nuts should be taboo for dogs. These nuts include walnuts, almonds, macadamia, hickory nuts, and pecans.
All of these nuts are not good for dogs, even if they are not salted.
Most nuts that humans eat are roasted and salted. Although this makes them tastier, it is not healthy.
This high salt level of many nuts may cause problems in dogs with pre-existing heart disease. Dogs with such pre-existing conditions should consider avoiding nuts altogether.
Salt causes the body to retain water, exacerbating fluid retention in the chest and lungs in heart failure.
The high salt level can even cause problems in healthy dogs. If dogs consume too much salt, they can suffer from salt poisoning.
Nuts also contain a lot of fat. While a small amount of good fats is helpful, large amounts can cause pancreas inflammation or pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis leads to painful vomiting, loss of appetite, and listlessness and often requires a stay of several days in the veterinary clinic.
Therefore, dogs that have already suffered from pancreatitis should also avoid nuts. The same applies to dogs that already eat a relatively high-fat diet.
Are dogs allowed to eat almonds?
Almonds belong to the nuts that your dog should avoid. Dogs cannot digest almonds well, leading to constipation or intestinal irritation.
The high-fat content can also trigger the painful pancreatitis mentioned above.
Although it probably won’t harm your dog if he swallows an almond or two, you should avoid almonds if possible.
Almonds are also often seasoned and flavored. Depending on the flavoring used, this can also lead to problems.
Finally, almonds do not contain any essential nutrients for dogs, so it is best to avoid these nuts altogether.
Can Dogs Eat Walnuts?
Dogs should not eat walnuts, either. Be aware of this during your fall walks, as walnut trees drop their nuts on the ground in the fall.
While walnuts don’t usually cause health issues in humans, dogs can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, and even seizures if they eat walnuts.
Vomiting occurs in about half of dogs that eat walnuts.
However, the real danger comes from a mold that grows on walnuts while lying on the ground under a tree. This mold is toxic to dogs and causes tremors and seizures.
There are better alternatives for dogs in the realm of nuts – so avoid walnuts and be aware of what your dog finds on the ground and swallows when out walking.
Can Dogs Eat Hickory Nuts?
Hickory nuts are also not recommended for dogs. Although they are not as dangerous for dogs as walnuts or macadamia nuts, hickory nuts can cause problems due to their salt, fat, and phosphorus content.
Hickories also contain the mycotoxin tremorgen, which can cause seizures and tremors in dogs.
If your dog swallows a hickory nut, you do not need to take him to the vet immediately. However, it is advisable to monitor him closely and call the vet if you notice vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or tremors.
Can Dogs Eat Macadamia?
Macadamia are poisonous to dogs. Eating macadamia nuts causes weakness, dizziness, tremors, high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as other less common symptoms.
Symptoms occur within 12 hours of eating macadamia but, fortunately, rarely last longer than 24 hours.
If your dog eats macadamia nuts, you should ask your vet for advice to be on the safe side.
Can Dogs Eat Pecans?
Pecans and walnuts are very similar, and they are also affected by the same molds that can cause tremors and toxicity in dogs.
Pecans are toxic to dogs because of the high content of these mycotoxins. They cause abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors.
If your dog ingests a pecan, you should monitor him closely for 24 hours. And, of course, you should not deliberately feed pecans to your dog.
Which Nuts Are Suitable for Dogs?
Fortunately, there are also some nuts that your dog can eat without hesitation. These include coconuts. However, as with all foods, your dog should only eat them in moderation.
The nuts listed below make excellent treats for your dog, as do some other foods. Sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and vegetables such as peppers or fresh zucchini also make excellent dog treats.
Since there is always a risk that mold can harm your dog, you should generally be very careful with nuts in dogs.
If your dog exhibits abnormal or unusual behavior, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Can Dogs Eat Pistachios?
Pistachios are one of the nuts that dogs can eat in small quantities.
Pistachios are not poisonous to dogs, but like all nuts, they have a high-fat content. If your dog is already on a high-fat diet or suffers from pancreatitis, he should not be given pistachios.
Pistachios are rich in antioxidants, including lutein, tocopherols, and zeaxanthin, which have been found to promote eye health and protect against cancer in humans.
If you want to give your dog pistachios, you should prefer the raw variety. You should also remove the shell before giving them to your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Peanuts?
Peanuts are the most commonly eaten nuts by humans. This also makes them one of the most common types of nuts for dogs to eat.
However, peanuts are not technically nuts. They belong to the legume or Leguminosae family, like beans, soy, and peas.
Peanuts plant their seeds in the ground, hence the name peanuts. Nevertheless, because of their texture and flavor, they are generally considered to belong to the nut family.
Peanuts are generally safe for dogs. Peanut butter is even sometimes used as a treat during dog training or as a filling for a Kong ball.
However, there are a few things to remember if you want to give your dog peanuts.
Firstly, like all nuts, peanuts contain a lot of fat – even if they are not actually nuts. If a dog overeats peanuts, it can develop pancreatitis.
Secondly, peanuts are often roasted and flavored with salt or other seasonings, many of which can cause problems in dogs.
Pay particular attention to chili flavoring, salt, onion flavoring, or garlic powder.
Peanut butter is generally suitable for dogs, but some manufacturers add xylitol as a sweetener. However, xylitol is toxic to dogs and can cause significant problems.
In moderation, however, peanuts are a healthy dog treat as long as they are not flavored, as described above.
They contain plenty of biotin, phosphorus, manganese, and niacin, as well as other essential vitamins and minerals.
Can Dogs Eat Cashews?
Cashews are one of the dog-save nuts that dogs can eat in moderation. They are not known to be poisonous to dogs.
However, they contain a lot of fat, which poses a risk of pancreatitis and can lead to obesity. As with peanuts, care must be taken if cashews are salted, seasoned, or flavored.
Cashews are low in fiber and high in carbohydrates. They are not ideal for a dog’s diet, but they are fine as an occasional treat.
So, if you notice your dog eating cashews, there’s no need to panic. However, watch for signs of pancreatitis over the next 48 hours if he has eaten a lot.
What Should You Do if Dogs Eat Nuts?
If you notice your dog eating nuts, examine the bag. If the bag contains walnuts, macadamia, hickory nuts, or pecans, you should call your vet. Ask your vet for advice on how to proceed.
For all other types of nuts, you should check the packaging for flavorings. Be particularly aware of salt, chili, garlic, and onions, and call your vet if the nuts contain any of these.
If everything is fine here, too, there is no need to panic. Remove the nuts from your dog and watch him closely for signs of an upset stomach.
Oily Foods and Pancreatitis
The pancreas is an organ located near the stomach. It produces both insulin and digestive enzymes.
Too much fat in the diet can overload the pancreas, and it becomes inflamed. This is extremely painful; dogs usually vomit violently and refuse to eat for several days.
Dogs with pancreatitis usually need to be hospitalized and require fluids and pain relief.
Pancreatitis after eating nuts is more common in dogs already on a high-fat diet but also in those who have already had pancreatitis.
Conclusion: Can Dogs Eat Nuts?
Some nuts are dangerous or even poisonous for dogs, especially walnuts, almonds, pecans, hickory nuts, and macadamia nuts. However, most nuts are not.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that nuts are healthy for dogs. Nuts contain a large amount of fat, which can lead to pancreatitis in dogs.
Furthermore, dogs do not need nuts in their diet. They can get the vitamins and minerals they need from many other suitable sources.