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Home > Dogs > Can Dogs Eat Nuts? Vet-Approved Risks & Safe Alternatives

Can Dogs Eat Nuts? Vet-Approved Risks & Safe Alternatives

Can Dogs Eat Nuts

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There are a lot of our foods that we occasionally give to our dogs as little treats—like bites of cheese, a tiny piece of bacon, and so on. Some of these treats from our fridge and cabinets are safe for our canine pals to eat, while others are deadly. And some of the people food we give our pets is incredibly unhealthy for them. This is why it’s vital to always read up on a food before giving it to your dog.

One of many people’s favorite snacks is nuts, whether peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, or something else. But is it safe to give these to your dog? Can dogs eat nuts? While technically, a couple of nuts are safe for your pup to eat, avoiding giving any to your pet is highly advisable. Why is that? There are a handful of reasons, which we’ll discuss below.


Why Nuts Are Bad News for Canines

As we said, nuts are generally bad news for our dogs, and there are several reasons why. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever give your pet a dog-safe nut if you simply can’t resist the begging and puppy dog eyes or that you can never give your pup peanut butter again, though. It just means some nuts should be avoided at all costs because they’re toxic, while others should only be avoided a majority of the time due to health concerns. Here’s a closer look.

1. Toxicity

The biggest health risk of giving nuts to your dog is, of course, the possibility of giving them a toxic nut 1 (we’ll mention more on that below). While not every nut you come across will be toxic to canines—and indeed, many are safe—you absolutely don’t want to feed your pet something that could cause harm or even kill them.

You also want to check any nuts you’re considering giving your pet carefully before doing so. Nuts that have mold on them can be toxic to your dog, as well (particularly moldy walnuts!). So, always be extra careful when dealing with nuts and canines.

peanuts on white ceramic bow
Image Credit: Piqsels

2. Salt

Then, there’s the amount of salt found in nuts. Most nuts are salty, and while they likely won’t have enough salt to result in salt poisoning (unless your pup eats a bucket full of nuts!), this salt still isn’t healthy for your dog. An overabundance of sodium in your pet’s system could lead to issues such as fluid imbalances, dehydration, and high blood pressure.

3. Ingredients

If you’re planning on letting your dog eat nuts of any kind, it’s vital that you only give them plain, unseasoned nuts. Many types of nuts are seasoned with different flavors, like sriracha, chocolate, and more, and some of those could contain ingredients that are toxic to your dog. Ingredients such as chocolate and garlic can be fatal to your pets, while other ingredients (like those that make nuts spicy) will simply upset their digestive systems.

walnuts close up
Image Credit: NickyPe, Pixabay

4. Calories and Fat

Another of the most significant reasons you should avoid giving your canine companion nuts is the high amount of calories and fat they contain. Nuts may be fairly healthy for us (in moderation), but they still have plenty of calories and fat, and the calories found in nuts can cause weight gain in your pup. And if your dog is currently overweight, nuts definitely don’t make the best treat for them.

Plus, the fat found in nuts could upset dogs who have sensitive stomachs and even cause pancreatitis, which will require a vet visit and, most likely, hospitalization. If your dog is suffering from pancreatitis, you’ll see signs such as vomiting, lethargy, dehydration, and abdominal pain.

5. Choking Risks

Finally, some nuts are small enough to pose a choking risk for your dog. So, if you do want to give your pup nuts, keep a close eye on them as they’re eating the nuts to ensure your pet’s safety.

bichon frise puppy being trained with a dog treat
Image Credit: sergey kolesnikov, Shutterstock

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Nuts That Are Safe

At this point, you’re probably wondering which nuts are safe for your pup to consume. Here’s a look at a few common nuts and whether they are dog safe or not. Keep in mind that with any nut you choose to give your dog, it should be in extreme moderation!

1. Peanuts or Peanut Butter

So long as peanuts are unseasoned and shelled, they’re safe for your dog to eat (outside of choking risks, fat, or calories, at least). Peanut butter is safe (so you don’t need to stop using it to trick your pup into taking its medicine!); however, you should ensure that peanut butter is only used sparingly and does not contain xylitol.

2. Cashews

Cashews are safe for your pet to eat on occasion.

Image Credit: ReadyElements, Pixabay

3. Pistachios

Pistachios are another nut that can cause a significant choking risk to pups, particularly if they are still shelled. That said, they aren’t toxic.

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Nuts That Are Not Safe

1. Pecans

Pecans should be avoided as they have juglone, a compound that is toxic and can cause severe digestive issues in dogs.

2. Almonds

Due to their size and shape, almonds can pose a serious choking hazard to canines. It’s best to stick to almond butter rather than actual almonds.

Image Credit By: Remi Yuan, Unsplash

3. Walnuts

While one or two shouldn’t harm your pet, it’s best to avoid walnuts. Why is that? Well, if you aren’t careful, you could end up with black walnuts (though these aren’t the type of walnuts we typically eat), and black walnuts are toxic to dogs because of the juglone they contain. Plus, regular walnuts are also a bit more prone to developing mold than other nuts, and moldy nuts are toxic to our canine pals.

4. Macadamias

This is one nut you absolutely want to avoid. Macadamias are toxic to dogs and cause fever, vomiting, and seizures. Never feed your pet these nuts!


Final Thoughts

When it comes to your favorite canine, nuts really aren’t the best treat you can give them. Besides being high in calories, fat, and salt, which can cause health issues, some nuts are toxic to dogs. The occasional lick of peanut or almond butter is perfectly fine (though you want to ensure any nut butters are xylitol-free), though, so you don’t have to deprive your pup of a favorite and the joy of watching them try to get it off the roof of their mouth!

Featured Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

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