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Can Dogs Eat Nuts?

Written by: Dr. Athena Gaffud

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Time to read 12 min

Are you curious about whether dogs can safely eat nuts? It's important to know which nuts are safe and which ones can be harmful to our dogs.

We will explore the reasons why nuts are dangerous for dogs, which nuts are safe for them to consume, and what to do if your dog accidentally eats nuts.

Can Dogs Eat Nuts?

While some experts argue that certain nuts, like peanuts , can be safe in moderation for dogs due to their protein content, others warn about the dangers of nuts causing gastrointestinal distress or even pancreatitis.


Almonds , for example, are considered risky for dogs as they cause blockages or choking hazards if not chewed properly. It's crucial for pet owners to be aware of the potential risks associated with feeding their dogs various types of nuts, especially if their dogs have underlying health conditions. Comprehensive pet insurance plans can offer a safety net in case of unexpected emergencies related to nut consumption.

Why are Nuts Bad for Dogs?

mixed nuts

Nuts can be harmful to dogs due to their high-fat content, which leads to gastrointestinal upset and other health issues in canines.


Specifically, the high fat content in nuts poses a serious risk of triggering pancreatitis in dogs. Pancreatitis is a potentially fatal condition characterized by inflammation of the pancreas which results in severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

In addition, nuts can also present a choking hazard for dogs, especially smaller breeds, due to their size and hard texture. Therefore, it is crucial for pet owners to be aware of the dangers associated with feeding nuts to their furry companions and to avoid giving them these types of treats.

What Makes Nuts Dangerous for Dogs?

nuts given to a dog

Nuts pose a danger to dogs primarily due to their potential to cause choking hazards, trigger pancreatitis, and lead to other serious health complications in pets.


One significant risk of nuts for dogs is that they can lead to pancreatitis , a painful inflammation of the pancreas which can be severe and even life-threatening for canines. In addition, nuts are high in fat content which can put a strain on a dog's digestive system, potentially leading to issues like diarrhea or vomiting. 

Nuts have unique phytosterol content and fatty acid patterns, with ß-sitosterol being the major sterol and varying levels of polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids,” (Kornsteiner‐Krenn, M., et al, 2013). Another important consideration is the risk of liver damage , as certain types of nuts contain substances that are toxic to dogs and can harm their liver function. “Plants, seeds, and nuts can cause toxicosis in small animals, and some are more toxic than others,” (Plumlee, K., 2002).

What Nuts are Safe for Dogs to Eat?

While many nuts are harmful to dogs, some varieties like peanuts, cashews, and almonds are considered safe in moderation and can even offer nutritional benefits to canines.

Peanuts

peanuts

Peanuts, when given in moderation, can be a safe and tasty treat for dogs, but pet owners need to watch out for potential allergic reactions in their dogs.


It is important to note that while peanut butter is a source of joy for dogs, it is crucial to ensure that it does not contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs. Always check the labels and opt for natural, unsalted peanut butter without any added sweeteners or preservatives.


Monitoring your dog's response after giving them peanut butter is key; observe for any signs of digestive discomfort or allergies. In moderation, the beneficial effects of peanuts, such as being a good source of protein and healthy fats, contribute to the dog's overall well-being.

Cashews

cashews

Cashews are a nutrient-rich snack for dogs, offering essential vitamins and minerals, but it is crucial to give them in moderation to prevent any adverse effects.


Cashews provide dogs with a good source of healthy fats that support their skin and coat health. These nuts are also rich in vitamins E and K, which contribute to their overall well-being. Cashews contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus , which are essential for bone health and muscle function (USDA FDC, 2019). Dog owners need to monitor their pets' intake of cashews due to their high caloric content to avoid weight gain. Practicing food safety is also key to ensuring that cashews are given in a way that is safe for canine consumption.

Almonds

almonds

Almonds, while high in fat content, can be given to dogs as an occasional treat, but excessive consumption can lead to digestive issues and weight gain in canines.


Feeding almonds to dogs in moderation provides essential nutrients such as vitamin E and healthy fats, benefiting their skin and coat health (USDA FDC, 2019). It's crucial to be mindful of the portion size due to the risk of obesity and pancreatitis in dogs caused by excessive fat intake.


Some advantages of including almonds in your pet's diet include improved cognitive function and boosting immune health, but it's paramount to consult with a veterinarian before introducing any new food to dogs.

Pistachios

Pistachios

Pistachios can pose a choking hazard for dogs due to their hard shells, and it is recommended to avoid giving them to pets to prevent potential accidents.


While dogs may enjoy the taste of pistachios, the risk of them ingesting the shells can lead to serious issues. The hard shell fragments can cause blockages in their digestive system, resulting in gastrointestinal upset and potential emergencies. Pet owners must be aware of the dangers and opt for safer snack alternatives like carrots, apples , or blueberries that are not only healthy but also free from potential hazards. In case a dog accidentally consumes pistachios, it is advisable to monitor them closely and seek immediate emergency veterinary care if any symptoms of distress appear.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are particularly toxic to dogs and can lead to severe symptoms such as seizures, making it crucial for pet owners to keep these nuts away from their canine companions.


Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, and hyperthermia in dogs, but most recover within 1 to 2 days without treatment,” (Hansen, S., et al, 2000).

What Nuts are Toxic for Dogs?

Certain nuts like walnuts , pecans , and hazelnuts are toxic to dogs and cause severe health issues, making it essential to keep these varieties away from dogs.


These nuts contain substances such as oxalic acid and tannins that are harmful to dogs when ingested, potentially leading to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and in severe cases, kidney failure . The risk of health complications, including intestinal blockage , makes it crucial for dog owners to be vigilant about where these nuts are stored and ensure they are out of reach. While some nuts can pose risks, it's important to remember that other dog-safe alternatives, like peanuts, offer health benefits when given in moderation.

Walnuts

Walnuts are harmful to dogs and can lead to liver damage if ingested, emphasizing the importance of preventing dogs from accessing these nuts.


Walnuts contain a toxin called juglone which is toxic to dogs and can cause severe gastrointestinal distress and potentially lead to liver damage. 

Juglone, a component of walnuts, exhibits cytotoxic and genotoxic effects,” (Aithal, K., et al, 2009). 

Ingesting even a small amount of walnuts can trigger symptoms of walnut poisoning in dogs, such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and abdominal pain. 

If not treated promptly, walnut poisoning can escalate to more serious complications, including liver failure. 

walnuts

Pecans

Pecans can harbor mold that is toxic to dogs and may lead to gastrointestinal upset or other health complications if consumed, highlighting the need to avoid feeding pecans to pets. “Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus are both potential aflatoxigenic species in market pecans, with A. parasiticus producing more aflatoxins than A. flavus,” (Koehler, P., et al, 1975).


Mold-contaminated pecans pose a serious threat to canine health, as the toxic substances cause a range of gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Dog owners must be vigilant about ensuring that their pets do not ingest pecans, especially if there is any sign of mold present. Clinical symptoms of mold poisoning in dogs include lethargy, loss of appetite, tremors, and even seizures, necessitating immediate medical attention. This risk underscores the importance of maintaining strict food safety practices when it comes to pet nutrition.

pecans

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts should be given to dogs in moderation due to their selenium content (Chunhieng, T., et al, 2004) as excessive consumption can lead to selenium toxicity and other health issues in canines.


Nutrient-rich Brazil nuts are a tasty and healthy treat for your furry friend, but it's crucial to remember that moderation is key when incorporating them into their diet. Selenium toxicity is a serious concern, as this mineral can have adverse effects on a dog's health when consumed in large quantities.


Signs of selenium toxicity in dogs include gastrointestinal upset, hair loss, and even more severe symptoms like neurological issues. It's essential to consult with a veterinarian before offering Brazil nuts to your pet, ensuring that the portions are safe and suitable for their individual needs.

brazil nuts

Pine Nuts

Pine nuts, if salted, can be harmful to dogs due to their sodium content, and it is recommended to offer unsalted pine nuts in moderation to prevent health issues.


Excessive sodium intake can lead to a range of health problems in dogs, including dehydration, elevated blood pressure, and potential choking hazards

Salted pine nuts can exacerbate these risks, making them unsuitable for canine consumption. 

It is crucial for dog owners to be vigilant about the ingredients they feed their pets, opting for natural and unsalted varieties of pine nuts to safeguard their furry companions' well-being.

pine nuts

Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts can cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upset in dogs if consumed, highlighting the need to avoid feeding these nuts to pets to prevent digestive issues.


Some dogs may have an allergic reaction to hazelnuts, leading to more severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing and swelling.


If a dog has ingested hazelnuts, it is crucial to monitor for signs of hazelnut poisoning, including drooling, lethargy, and abdominal pain.


Emergency care should be sought if a dog shows persistent symptoms or if a large amount of hazelnuts has been consumed.


It is also advisable to contact a veterinarian promptly for advice on appropriate steps to take, as prompt action can significantly impact a pet’s health outcome.

hazel nuts

What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Nuts?

If a dog eats nuts and shows symptoms of distress or poisoning, it is crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention to ensure their well-being and prevent further complications.


When a dog ingests nuts, the situation can escalate quickly, leading to severe health issues. Quick action is key to avoiding any potential risks. For the pet's safety, it is advisable to contact a vet promptly, providing details of the incident for a proper evaluation.


Some common clinical symptoms of nut poisoning in dogs may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and abdominal pain. Furthermore, seizures also occur in severe cases, emphasizing the importance of immediate medical intervention to address the situation effectively.

How Much Nuts Can Dogs Eat?

a dog eating nuts

In terms of feeding nuts to dogs, it is essential to follow specific guidelines and offer them in moderation to prevent health issues and ensure their nutritional balance.


Fiber and protein are crucial components of a dog's diet, and while nuts can provide some of these nutrients, they should be given sparingly due to their high fat content. Opting for unsalted, raw nuts like peanuts or almonds is recommended, as salted or flavored varieties are harmful to dogs. Always chop nuts into smaller pieces to avoid choking hazards. Overfeeding nuts to dogs can lead to digestive problems, obesity, or even pancreatitis due to their richness in fats. It's best to consult a veterinarian before incorporating nuts into your pet's diet.

Alternatives to Nuts for Dogs

For pet owners looking for nut-free alternatives, options like peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, and other safe snacks can provide similar taste and nutritional benefits for dogs without the risks associated with nuts.


  • Coconut: Coconut and coconut oil offer dogs a range of health benefits, including improved skin health and digestion, making it a popular and safe alternative to traditional nuts. One of the main advantages of incorporating coconut and coconut oil into your dog's diet is their natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, which help combat skin issues such as hot spots and allergies. The medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil support digestive function by promoting nutrient absorption and aiding in the regulation of healthy gut bacteria.


  • Berries: Berries are a nutritious and antioxidant-rich option for dogs, offering a flavorful and healthy snack that can boost their immune system and overall well-being. Rich in antioxidants, berries like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are packed with essential nutrients beneficial for dogs. These fruits contain high levels of vitamin C, which helps in boosting the immune system and promotes healthy skin and coat. The fiber content in berries aids in digestion and is particularly helpful for dogs with gastrointestinal issues. Including a variety of berries in your dog's diet can provide a delicious and nutritious way to incorporate these health benefits. Read “Can Dogs Eat Blueberries?”.


  • Sunflower Seeds: Sunflower seeds are a source of omega-3 fatty acids for dogs, promoting healthy skin, coat, and heart function when given in moderation as part of a balanced diet. These seeds are also rich in Vitamin E, an essential nutrient that acts as a powerful antioxidant, boosting your furry friend's immune system and protecting their cells from damage. The consumption of sunflower seeds can aid in reducing inflammation in dogs, which is beneficial for those suffering from conditions like arthritis. When incorporating sunflower seeds into your dog's diet, it's crucial to consider the calorie content and ensure they are not over-consumed to maintain a healthy weight.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Pet owners should be cautious when offering nuts to their dogs, considering the potential risks and benefits, and exploring alternative snacks like peanut butter and berries to ensure a healthy and balanced diet for their furry companions.


Peanut butter, when given in moderation, can be a tasty and safe choice that is loved by most dogs. Berries, such as blueberries and strawberries, are packed with antioxidants and vitamins, providing a nutritious boost to your pet's diet. A well-rounded diet not only contributes to your dog's physical well-being but also helps in preventing digestive issues and other health problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can dogs have nuts?

Yes, dogs can have nuts in moderation. However, some nuts can be harmful to dogs, so it's important to know which ones are safe and which ones are not.

What are safe nuts for dogs to eat?

Some safe nuts for dogs include peanuts, cashews, and almonds. However, it's important to feed them in small amounts and make sure they are unsalted and unflavored.

Are there any nuts that are bad for dogs?

Yes, some nuts can be toxic to dogs. Macadamia nuts and black walnuts are known to be harmful to dogs and should be avoided.

Why are certain nuts bad for dogs?

Certain nuts contain toxins that can be harmful to dogs. Macadamia nuts, for example, can cause vomiting, weakness, and tremors in dogs.

What should I do if my dog accidentally eats a bad nut?

If your dog accidentally eats a bad nut, monitor them closely and look for any signs of illness. If they start showing symptoms, take them to the veterinarian immediately.

What should I do if my dog accidentally eats a bad nut?

If your dog accidentally eats a bad nut, monitor them closely and look for any signs of illness. If they start showing symptoms, take them to the veterinarian immediately.

Can nuts be a healthy treat for dogs?

Yes, nuts can provide healthy fats, protein, and other nutrients for dogs. However, they should always be given in moderation and as a supplement to a balanced diet.

Dr. Athena Gaffud, DVM

Author: Dr. Athena Gaffud

Dr. Athena is a seasoned, board-certified veterinarian with comprehensive expertise in general practice, veterinary medicine, laboratory operations, and veterinary writing. She is passionate about animals and holistic health. 

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