Can dogs eat nuts and nut-butters? The answer is a little more complicated than you might think. We’ve never met a dog who didn’t like a spoonful of peanut butter—and in most cases, this is safe, but not always. Additionally, there are certain types of nuts that are okay for pups while others can cause serious serious harm.
Are Nuts Safe for Dogs?
Generally speaking, nuts are safe for dogs to eat, but they’re not the healthiest choice. Nuts and legumes, like peanuts, are high in fat and dense in calories. Many dog owners use peanut butter as a training tool or treat, which is fine in moderation. But nuts should be considered just that: a treat, and not responsible for more than 10 percent of a dog’s total calories.
Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can be beneficial for dogs, but too much fat in a dog’s diet can lead to gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea. In the long term, a fatty diet can cause pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation of the pancreas.
What Nuts Can Dogs Eat?
Here’s a breakdown of which nuts dogs can eat and which can be dangerous or even deadly when your pup nibbles them off the floor.
Almonds: Mild Risk
It’s safe for dogs to eat almonds. However, they can be hard to chew, which can lead to digestive problems or even intestinal damage, especially for smaller dogs.
Cashews: Mild Risk
Dogs can eat cashews in moderation. However, the high fat content is something to watch out for.
Pecans: Mild Risk
Eating a few pecans isn’t dangerous, but because they are especially high in fat, they aren’t particularly good for dogs, either.
Peanuts: Mild Risk
Peanuts and peanut butter are okay for your dog to eat. But when purchasing peanut butter, choose a brand that is low in sugar and salt. Most importantly, read the label and make sure that the peanut butter does not contain xylitol. This sugar substitute is poisonous to dogs.
Pistachios: Mild Risk
Unshelled pistachios are okay for dogs to eat in moderation.
Walnuts: Moderate Risk
The fat content isn’t the only danger for dogs when it comes to walnuts. Their large size makes them difficult to chew and poses a choking hazard, and can block bowel movements.
What Nuts Can Dogs NOT Eat?
Macadamia Nuts: Very High Risk
Macadamia nuts are one of the most dangerous foods for dogs, even in low quantities. A toxin found in macadamia nuts can make your dog quite sick (causing vomiting or joint swelling), and can even lead to neurological problems, tremors, and temporary paralysis.
Flavored Nuts: High Risk
Honey-roasted cashews might taste delicious to you, but they could be deadly to your dog. In addition to potentially dehydrating dogs, the salt, oil, and artificial seasoning in flavored nuts may in some cases be poisonous.
Unshelled Nuts: High Risk
Dogs have a difficult time digesting nut shells, and unlike humans they can’t deshell the nuts to get to the good stuff. Unshelled nuts are dangerous for dogs, as the sharp bits of shell can damage their digestive system.
Old Nuts: High Risk
Eating old nuts is very dangerous for dogs due to the possible presence of mold. If your dog eats an old nut found in the back of your cabinet or on the ground from a nut tree, this can be toxic. In the worst cases, ingesting mold can cause dogs to have liver problems or even experience seizures. This is especially well-documented in dogs that have ingested moldy black walnuts.
So Are Nuts Good for Dogs or Not?
Nuts are not an important part of a dog’s diet and should generally be avoided. However, if your dog eats a few peanuts or pecans, don’t sweat it—just watch his fat intake and make sure not to over-treat!