A lot of dog owners enjoy sharing food with their pets, even if they know table scraps are not always a good idea. It is hard to say no to your dog when it really wants something, but most dog owners know that the relationship between people food and pets is not straightforward. It is not always safe to give your dog a taste of what you are eating, whether you are sitting at the dinner table or having a snack while taking a walk in the park. Nuts are a convenient food with a lot of health benefits for people. Unfortunately, it's not always safe to share nuts with your furry friend.
Some nuts are okay for dogs, while others should be avoided. One of the main reasons is that most nuts are very high in fat. This can lead to an upset stomach in dogs and cause vomiting and diarrhea. There are also some varieties of nuts that can cause more severe health problems and should be avoided at all times.
There are a few reasons why dogs should avoid walnuts. Not only are they very high in fat but they are also very large. Depending on the breed, some dogs may have a hard time chewing them properly. They can quickly become a choking hazard. What dog owners really have to look out for is old walnuts lying on the ground underneath trees when exploring outside with your dog. Moldy walnuts may contain neurotoxins that can cause your dog to have seizures.
Some dogs actually love the taste of almonds, but that does not mean they are safe. While almonds do not contain anything toxic to dogs, they can cause a lot of GI problems. Because they are so high in fat, dogs have a difficult time digesting them. Too many can lead to pancreatitis. If a small dog eats too many almonds, they can develop a bowel obstruction.
Hickory nuts contain a toxin called juglone which is known to cause hoof swelling in horses and can cause stomach upset or intestinal blockage in dogs. The hickory tree grows all over the eastern US, from New York to Texas. Just like walnuts, they can fall to the ground and grow mold that can cause neurological symptoms if ingested by your dog. Pay special attention when your dog is near wooded areas.
Macadamia nuts are the most toxic type of nut for dogs. In addition to being high in fat, macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin that can be fatal to dogs. Within 12 hours after eating one, weakness, tremors, vomiting, and fever appear. Even in small amounts, they can have drastic and devastating effects. Avoid macadamia nuts at all costs.
Pistachios are not toxic, but they are not good for dogs when eaten in large amounts. Because they are so high in fat, they can cause nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal discomfort. Eating too many can lead to obesity or pancreatitis. If you do choose to treat your dog to a pistachio or two, make sure you remove the shells. They can be choking hazards if left in place.
Like hickory nuts, pecans contain juglone which is toxic to horses so it is best to avoid them. Your dog would likely have to eat a large number of pecans to be affected by juglone, but it is better to err on the side of caution. Pecans are loaded with fat, which can cause a lot of stomach upset, and small dogs can experience bowel obstruction from only a small amount of pecans.
There are a few nuts that are safe for dogs in small quantities. Unsalted peanuts out of the shell are a safe choice. While peanut allergies in humans is a worry, they are not as common in dogs. Plus, dogs do not have the same severe reaction to an allergy that people do. Hazelnuts are also safe but can be a choking hazard to a small dog.
Nuts that are safe for dogs, like peanuts and hazelnuts, should only be given to your dog as a special treat. They should not be incorporated as a part of their everyday diet because of the high-fat content. Unsalted nuts are best. It is also preferred that the nuts be boiled or dry roasted before offering any to your dog. Pay close attention when feeding nuts to small dogs as they can be a choking hazard.
If your dog is having some stomach upset after eating nuts, make sure it has plenty of water to drink while it works its way out of its system. If you think your dog may have a bowel obstruction or pancreatitis due to eating too many nuts, call your vet right away. These can progress to medical emergencies and should be dealt with right away. You should also contact your vet or consider your pup to an emergency clinic if you suspect it ate any moldy nuts or macadamia nuts.
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