What Nuts Can Dogs Eat?

Due to their high fiber, protein and healthy fat content, nuts make great snacks - for people! Canines, on the other hand, need to watch their nut intake. Too many nuts (and too much peanut butter, which is a common treat for dogs during training and play time) can lead to obesity and dehydration, according to The American Kennel Club. Pumpkin Pet Insurance says there are some nuts dogs can eat; however, you should only treat your pup to them on special occasions.

Meet the experts:

  • Dr. Lindsey Wendt, Holistic Veterinarian and Veterinarian Advisor to Badlands Ranch
  • Katie Spies, Founder and CEO of Maev, a get-formulated, human-grade, raw dog food brand.
what nuts can dogs eat peanuts
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Can Dogs Eat Nuts?

All nuts are risky for dogs to eat. This is because of their aforementioned fat content. VCA Animal Hospitals warns that obesity in dogs can cause more serious health complications like kidney disease and mobility issues. (Check out our deep dive into obesity in dogs here.) Nuts are also super easy for dogs to choke on. There are a few types of nuts, however, that only present a mild risk to canines and can be eaten sporadically (outlined below) when unseasoned and salt-free. Other nuts are very toxic to dogs. Some nuts are very toxic to dogs and can cause lasting problems for your pup’s insides if he eats them.

Dr. Lindsey Wendt, Holistic Veterinarian and Veterinarian Advisor to Badlands Ranch, says if you’re going to treat your dog to nuts, ease into it. “It is important to be careful and slowly introduce [nuts] over time since high-fat items can lead to intestinal irritation and, in severe cases, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas),” Dr. Wendt told us.

In fact, a fatty diet in general is linked to pancreatitis in dogs. Signs of pancreatitis include many of the signs of poison: vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite. Your dog also might have a distended belly or hunch his back as he walks.

Katie Spies, Founder and CEO of human-grade dog food brand Maev, says, “My go-to is unsalted, unseasoned peanuts. But only in small amounts.” Remember that. Any nut given to your dog should be unseasoned and in small amounts!

what nuts can dogs eat cashews
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What Nuts Can Dogs Eat?

1. Cashews

According to dog food brand Ollie, cashews are okay for dogs to eat in small quantities. Note that this is unsalted and unseasoned cashews only! Preventive Vet says roasted cashews only—never raw. Spies agrees that raw cashews are a no-no, but adds their small size can make them a big choking hazard for some breeds. Watch your dog closely if they eat a roasted, unsalted cashew.

2. Chestnuts

The ASPCA says chestnuts are non-toxic to dogs, but these nuts may not be the best snack for pups who eat too quickly or tend to swallow foods whole, as they can get lodged in a dog’s throat. Pumpkin Pet Insurance also advises making sure chestnuts are roasted before feeding to your dog.

3. Peanuts

Plain, unsalted peanuts are safe for dogs to eat according to Pumpkin Pet Insurance. Actually, peanuts are legumes like peas and lentils. Make sure the peanuts are de-shelled if you’re going to toss a few to your pup. Dr. Wendt says, “If you want to feed peanuts directly to your dog, use unsalted or unseasoned peanuts and consider crushing them and sprinkling them on top of their food rather than feeding them whole to avoid choking.” As for peanut butter, you’ve got to make sure it doesn’t contain any xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs and potentially lethal. “[Xylitol] can have an onset of toxicity as soon as 30 minutes after ingestion,” says Dr. Wendt.

4. Pistachios

Pistachios get mixed reviews. They are non-toxic to dogs, so you don’t need to panic if your dog eats a few pistachios. However, you should watch for signs of upset stomach or digestive issues. Don’t let your dog eat the shells, as they present an extra choking hazard and could cut your dog’s mouth or throat. (Spies says it’s best to avoid pistachios due to their tiny size.)

what nuts can dogs eat pecans
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Nuts Dogs Cannot Eat

1. Almonds

The jury also seems to be out on almonds. PetMD says they’re not technically toxic, but are high in fat, so we think they should largely be avoided. The American Kennel Club says almonds should never become a dog treat. We think it’s best to avoid them. If your dog grabs an almond off the floor, it’s not the end of the world, but watch him carefully to make sure he doesn’t choke.

2. Brazil nuts

Due to their extremely high fat content, it’s not advised to feed brazil nuts to dogs (Pumpkin Pet Insurance notes these are not technically toxic, but the high fat content makes it not worth it to use them as treats or snacks). Brazil nuts also pose a larger threat to smaller breeds because they could get lodged in their digestive systems.

3. Hazelnuts

Like almonds, hazelnuts are shaped in a way that makes them big choking hazards. While you don’t need to make an emergency call to your vet if your dog swipes a hazelnut, you absolutely shouldn’t make a habit of feeding them to him.

4. Macadamia nuts

Here’s a nut that is truly toxic to dogs. They can lead to tremors, weakness, paralysis and joint inflammation. If your dog accidentally swallows a macadamia nut or two, Dr. Wendt advises contacting your nearest pet poison control center or veterinarian for treatment advice.

5. Walnuts

There are two types of walnuts—English walnuts and black walnuts. English walnuts are tan in color. These are the nuts we cook with and you often find inside tins of mixed nuts. Their large and irregular shape is a major choking hazard that could cause digestive blocks. Plus, they are related to black walnuts which are darker in color and extremely toxic to dogs. Avoid at all costs.

6. Pecans

“Nuts that are toxic to dogs and are a definite ‘no’ include the walnut family and pecans,” Dr. Richard Goldstein, chief medical officer at the Animal Medical Center, told PetMd. Spies says pecans and walnuts can also develop mold easily, which could lead to seizures in dogs.

The Bottom Line:

Forget the nuts! It’s not worth the risk or the anxiety. There are much healthier and safer ways you can deliver protein, fiber and healthy fats to your dog. Consider Maev’s supplement bars which are designed specifically to add in Omega-3s to a dog’s diet (if they’re in need of a boost). Spies also says sprinkling chia seeds on your dog’s meal as a topper is a great source of protein. Many dog food brands design their recipes to ensure your dog gets a well-rounded diet. Anything your vet says your dog is lacking can be made up for with supplements, fruits and vegetables.

If your dog is eager to try a nut or you want to incorporate them into their diet as a special treat, be sure to follow the recommendations above. “For active dogs, nuts can provide extra energy for their activities,” notes Dr. Wendt. “If you aren’t sure whether nuts are a good fit for your dog, speak with your veterinarian before introducing them into their regimen.”

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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...