What types of nuts are safe for dogs?
Have you ever thought of giving nuts to your dog?
As humans, we seem to have an inherent desire to share the things that give us pleasure, especially foods, with our beloved furry friends. With a world of information available at our fingertips, it only makes sense to inquire as to what foods are safe for dogs to eat before we offer them to our pets.
So, can dogs eat almonds? What about peanuts, cashews and other nuts? Can I give my dog pistachio nuts?
If ‘sometimes you feel like a nut’ that is fine, but you really should not feed them to your dog.
In fact, certain types of nuts can cause toxic poisoning, an upset stomach or an obstruction in your dog's gastrointestinal tract which can lead to the need for life-saving surgery.
If you insist, you can give your dog a few different kinds of nuts without negative side effects.
Moderation is critical though; too much of any kind of nut is going to cause your dog to have an upset tummy. Some dogs will get loose stool after eating just a few nuts while others can experience full blown diarrhea or vomiting. If you toss your pup a few nuts as a snack and you notice his stools loosening, no more!
Dogs with Allergies
If you’re worried about allergies, you should know that nuts aren’t significant allergens in most dogs. For dogs who do have a history of allergies, nuts can trigger an allergic reaction.
It doesn’t matter if your dog’s allergic history is based on contact (weeds, grass or pollen) or food allergies, you shouldn’t knowingly give them a food that’s considered an allergen.
Signs of an allergic reaction can be as minor as an upset stomach and vomiting immediately after eating a nut but if the dog has any more serious negative reactions after eating nuts, it is probably the sign of a nut allergy. Other signs your dog might be having an allergic reaction to nuts include:
- Facial swelling
If you notice any of these, your dog needs to see a veterinarian to have an antihistamine and steroid administered.
Safe but Beware of Possible Side Effects
Good news: most peanuts are not considered toxic to dogs. However, it’s important to understand that while peanuts are safe to use in dog cookies and other treats, they are high in fat.
Dogs have a more difficult time digesting fat than humans. A high concentration of fat can cause an upset stomach, including diarrhea and vomiting.
Dogs who consume too much fat can develop a very painful and serious condition called pancreatitis. According to WebMd.com, Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas when it becomes overloaded with fat and is unable to process or break it down.
While your dog can receive treatment for pancreatitis, it’s one of the most painful conditions he’ll experience! Poor doggy, bad owner!
Dogs can eat cashewsas an occasional treat: however, eating too much can cause stomach pain. Make sure they are cooked or roasted because raw cashew nuts contain a toxin which is eliminated through high-temperature.
Dogs can eat hazelnuts as they are not toxic to them. That said, if you have a small dog, a hazelnut could pose a choking risk or could cause an intestinal obstruction.
Avoid Salted Peanuts
If you are going to give your dog a peanut treat — like stuffing your pooch’s Kong toy with peanut butter or whipping up a homemade cookie treat — use low-sodium peanut butter or lower-salted peanuts. Do not use almond butter, sometimes mistaken as an acceptable substitution.
Too much salt can lead to sodium ion toxicosis (PetPoisonHelpLine.com).
If you want to give you pet Peanut Butter, look for the low sodium type onAmazon.
Amazon also carries a wide variety of Kong Toys.
Some Nuts are Poisonous for Dogs
There are nuts considered poisonous to your dog. Before you give your dog any kind of nut, you should find out if they could cause serious harm to your dog. For example, Macadamia nuts should never be given to your dog in any form. Even a small amount can lead to neurological symptoms like muscle tremors and even seizures.
Do not feed your dog made-for-people treats that have peanuts (i.e., peanut butter cups and other candy bars; chocolate is toxic to dogs too) as this could lead to accidental poisoning.
Walnuts are bad for dogs too. According to Nationwide Pet Insurance, walnut poisoning is one of the most common claims for toxic ingestion. The average cost to treat walnut poisoning is $419. The average cost to treat liver failure is $720.
Check Ingredients for Xylitol
With the introduction of a variety of nut butters to the market, it's wise to check the nut (or any other human food you feed your pets) ingredients for the sugar substitute xylitol, which is extremely toxic to dogs.
Currently, three peanut butter brands contain xylitol, including Nuts 'n More, Krush Nutrition and P-28 Foods.
Be sure to read the nutritional ingredients. "Natural sweetener" may be a clue that the peanut butter is sweetened with xylitol, which can be labeled as "sugar alcohol," its chemical classification.
While xylitol may be safe for people, it's not safe for pets. Even a very small amount of xylitol could send your dog into hypoglycemia—a dangerous drop in blood sugar—that is often fatal and can destroy liver cells.
If your dog ingests xylitol, immediate veterinary care is recommended. Signs of xylitol toxicity include:
Xylitol can also be found in toothpaste, chewing gum, candy and vitamins, just to name a few. Again, to be on the safe side always check the ingredients in a food you plan to share with your dog.
Nuts with Shells
Don’t feel your pets any nuts that still contain their shells. The way the shells break down when chewed results in sharp, jagged pieces that can damage the esophagus as the dog swallows and/or shells can damage the intestines as they pass through the digestive tract.
If you like to keep a bowl of unshelled nuts around on your coffee or end-tables, you should think twice and keep them up out of your dog’s reach. Dogs aren’t necessarily picky when it comes to what they snack on, so don’t think your bowl of nuts won’t appeal to your pooch.
Dogs love the taste of almonds, particularly the flavored variety (jalapeno, barbecued, smoked, vanilla, cinnamon, etc.) but while not toxic, almonds are not easily digested and can give your dog an upset stomach and create gastric intestinal distress.
Black walnuts contain a toxin called juglone so eating them can cause gastric intestinal upset (an upset stomach) or an obstruction in your dog.
In addition, moldy black walnuts can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins (toxic chemicals produced by fungi) which can cause seizures or neurological symptoms.
contain no toxicity; however, they can cause an upset tummy in your dog or an obstruction.
Like English walnuts, moldy Japanese walnuts can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause seizures or neurological symptoms.
can also cause a tummy ache or an obstruction just like Black and Japanese walnuts.
Also, like Black and Japanese walnuts, moldy English walnuts can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause seizures or neurological symptoms.
Eating hickory nuts can cause the same problems associated with the above-mentioned walnuts: gastric intestinal upset (stomach ache) or an intestinal obstruction.
Like walnuts, moldy hickory nuts can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause seizures or neurological symptoms.
Feeding dogs pecans can cause an upset tummy in your dog and/or an obstruction. Like walnuts, moldy pecans can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause seizures or neurological symptoms.
Pistachios are rich in fat and can cause your dog to develop an upset stomach. In addition, repetitive eating of pistachios can cause pancreatitis in your dog, again, a very serious and expensive condition that can be fatal.
These can be healthy for dogs, but they should be given in small, infrequent amounts. You can give your dog peanut butter as a creamy treat but limit the amount. You can also freeze it to make a dog-friendly treat that mimics ice cream.
If you give your little buddy any nut butters, they should be low-sodium and sugar free. Stick to organic, all natural nut butters to limit how much sugar and salt your dog consumes.
Nuts have a lot of fat in them and while they’re considered good or healthy fats, toomuch can cause weight gain, high blood pressure and pancreatitis. Dogs who come down with this disorder usually recover well if they’re treated by a veterinarian, but they should never be left to recover at home. They need IV fluids to flush the fat from their system and pain medications to help alleviate their severe abdominal pain. One case of pancreatitis requires your dog to go on a lifelong low-fat diet to prevent any more flares, so be careful and don’t overdo it.
Rule of thumb: limit your dog’s consumption of nuts to that of an occasional treat, not a meal and this includes nut butters.
If you have concerns or questions about feeding your dog peanuts, discuss it with your veterinarian, who is familiar with your dog’s health and nutrition.
24/7 Animal Poison Control Center