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. Additionally, there are certain types of nuts that are okay for pups while others can cause serious serious harm.
We broke down what is safe in moderation and what nuts you need to avoid. Consider this post your cheat sheet on all things nuts for your dog!
Can dogs eat nuts?
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.
Hazelnuts: Moderate Risk
If your pup got a hazelnut or two chances are they would be just fine. The reason we include these in the moderate risk category is actually the shape of the hazelnut. It's round and sized such that it might be a choking hazard for your pup. In smaller dogs, like walnuts they have the potential to cause a bowel obstruction. If your pup does get ahold of a hazelnut, don't panic but do keep an eye on their breathing and bathroom habits for a while.
What Nuts Can't dogs 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.
Brazil Nuts: High Risk
While the brazil nut is not actually toxic to your pup per se- it is not a good choice either. Brazil nuts are extremely high in fat and therefore should not be fed to to dogs. As we mentioned earlier too much fat can lead to digestive distress and pancreatitis so this is one nut to keep to yourself.
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.
What to do if your dog eats nuts?
If your dog is not allergic and it was a type of nut that is safe in moderation, you probably won't need to do anything other than watch their fat and calorie intake for the rest of the day. A few peanuts, a cashew or an almond or two are probably going to be just fine for your pup.
If you notice your pup is having digestive distress after eating nuts, call your vet's office for further instruction.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.