Can Dogs Eat Nuts? Here's What Vets Recommend
You see it coming: the inquisitive snoot. Peering over your knee or just above the tabletop. Nudging your elbow and snuffling under the coffee table. Doggos always want to snack on whatever you have, but they don't know what's good for them. For example, can dogs eat nuts? Sometimes, but not all types, so here's what you should know when your pooch flashes those pleading eyes.
Can Dogs Eat Nuts Safely?
Renee Streeter, DVM, DACVN, is the veterinary nutritionist for PetPlate and BSM Partners. She tells Daily Paws that while certain nuts can be small, occasional treats (or won't cause a problem if your pup snarfs one found beneath the couch), it's best to stick with more appropriate treats for dogs. Why? Because the main reasons nuts are bad for dogs are the same ones we struggle with as humans.
"All nuts are high in fat and calories, which isn't ideal for the waistline," she says. "There are so many other better treats that offer less risk and fewer calories." Plus most packaged nuts are high in sodium, and Pet Poison Helpline indicates that too much salt is toxic to dogs.
On average, treats should only make up about 10 percent of your pet's diet. So Streeter adds that if you want to share some human foods with your dog from time-to-time, choose those that are more fiber– and phytonutrient–rich, such as:
What Nuts Can Dogs Eat?
So yes, while we just said "No nuts 'cause fat 'n salt 'n stuff!" there are a few crunchy nuggets dogs can eat safely in moderation. Streeter says these include:
- Raw cashews, and perhaps cashew milk and cashew butter
- Peanuts and peanut butter
- Sweet almonds (not bitter) and sweet almond butter
Each nutty bite must be unsalted, unseasoned, unshelled, and not come from a mixed nut container to avoid cross-contamination with potentially toxic selections. Additionally, all nut butters should be free of xylitol, a type of sugar alcohol used as a sweetener in many products which can be deadly for canines.
Are Nuts Good for Dogs?
Not necessarily. While humans frequently enjoy dietary advantages such as fiber, protein, and essential vitamins, dogs have different nutritional needs that nuts don't fulfill, especially if your pup is already on a veterinarian-approved balanced meal plan.
With nuts' high fat content, they might cause digestive trouble for some dogs too, which could lead to the serious and costly condition of pancreatitis. Sudden onset of abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting are your cues that pup needs help. Additionally, food allergies are rare in canines, but happen every so often with nuts. So the question is less can dogs eat nuts but more, should they?
And as you might have guessed, another reason why nuts—particularly larger ones—aren't always the perfect treat is they present a choking hazard, especially for small dogs, but even for larger ones who get so doggone excited anticipating a new snack. It's better to chop up nuts and add them to your pup's regular kibble in a slow feed dish than to let him eat some out of your hand—unless he's super patient!
Which Types of Nuts Are Toxic to Dogs?
Streeter provides a list of the top nuts to avoid, because they cause immediate health concerns for your doggo.
All oak is toxic, but your pup would have to snuff up quite a few acorns to suffer from oak poisoning. However, two of the more primary dangers are choking on an acorn or getting a cap lodged in his intestinal tract, which might cause painful bowel obstruction.
Bitter Almonds and Bitter Almond Extract
"These nuts aren't typically sold for consumption in the U.S., but may be found in some natural food stores," Streeter says. "But they contain cyanogenic glycosides, which can cause cyanide toxicity." Symptoms of which might be mild, such as vomiting, rapid or no breathing, to severe, such as seizures, coma, and death.
The nuts and the wood of the tree result in symptoms ranging from nausea and diarrhea to neurological complications. Signs of poisoning might appear immediately, but can also take up to a week.
Streeter says it's difficult to pinpoint just what causes their toxicity. "It could be a toxic constituent, processing contamination, or mycotoxin involvement." The clinical symptoms, which usually appear within 12 hours, are rather varied, too, and include vomiting, weakness, tremors, abdominal pain, and lameness.
Pecans are prone to molding, which creates natural toxins called juglone and aflatoxin. The former might result in seizures and nerve damage, while the latter can cause liver disease if consumed in high doses. Poisoning probably won't be a concern if your dog eats one or two pecans off the floor, but they can still be a choking hazard and cause intestinal discomfort.
Streeter adds that some nuts, like peanuts (technically a legume) are also high in oxalates, which may predispose your pup to urinary stone formation.
While some of these reactions may resolve in a few hours, if you suspect your dog hoovered up some nuts that could pose a problem, seek veterinary care immediately.