5 Nuts Your Dogs Can Eat Safely, and 4 To Avoid

Written by Susan Olayode
Updated: July 10, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/yacobchuk
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Let a nut drop from your hands, and your dog will swallow it up before you can react. Nuts are crunchy, fun, and challenging to dogs, but are they good for them? 

Nuts are high in protein, fat, and fiber. Dogs have no problem digesting some nuts, but they do not need nuts in their diet. If you let your dog have as many nuts as it wants, it may end up being severely dehydrated, obese, or worse.

Before you spread that nut paste on your pup’s lick mat, go over this list of nuts we have provided

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Nut Dogs Can Eat

Nuts make a great occasional treat for dogs, especially in moderate amounts. You can let your dog have the leftovers of the following kinds of nuts:

Peanuts

Dogs love peanuts just as much as we do. Peanuts are not just edible; they are a fantastic source of proteins and vitamins. A healthy amount of peanuts can make your pup’s coat more beautiful.

Peanuts also contain arginine, which supports nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator; it lowers the risk of high blood pressure and tissue damage and improves circulation.

Although unsalted peanuts are great for dogs, it isn’t so straightforward with peanut butter. Many peanut butter brands contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Dogs can eat peanut butter as long as it has no additives or preservatives. Your best bet is to buy peanut jars of butter specially formulated for dogs. Find out more on can dogs eat peanut butter

peanuts
Peanuts support nitric oxide production, lower the risk of tissue damage, and support circulation.

iStock.com/White Bear Studio

Cashews

Cashews supply healthy fats that are good for the human heart. Although these fats are not necessary for dogs, one or two nuts won’t hurt. When feeding cashews to your dog, stick to the 10% rule. All your dog’s treats should add up to 10% of their total calories for a day. Since cashew nuts contain nearly 10 calories per nut, you may feed your dog one to three pieces a day.

Of course, cashews for dogs must be unsalted and unseasoned. Beware of nuts that other nuts may have contaminated during production. Not all nuts are friendly.

cashews
Cashews supply healthy fats for your dogs heart, but be sure not to give your dog more than a few.

iStock.com/PrasongTakham

Pecans

If you’re worried about feeding your dog a dessert with a few pecans in it, it’s okay. Your dog can have one or two pecans safely. Before letting your pup have a pecan, you want to be sure it’s freshly dried. Pecans tend to support mold growth better than most nuts. 

Always make sure your dog doesn’t have more than three pecans in one day. In high amounts, pecans may cause poisoning due to mycotoxins or aflatoxins.

pecans
Pecans are okay to feed your dog, but not too many – three is more than enough.

iStock.com/Say-Cheese

Chestnuts

Chestnuts contain fiber and vitamins like vitamins B1, B2, and C. Eating chestnuts also supplies potassium and iron. A few chestnuts a day can help your dog prevent constipation. However, it is not the best source of nutrients for your dog.

Chestnuts are lower in fat than other nuts, but they still have too many calories. Nonetheless, look for chestnuts roasted without oil, salt, or other spices.  

If you have a small dog, skip chestnuts altogether. The chances of choking on these nuts are higher than with most nuts.

chestnuts
Chestnuts contain lots fibers and vitamins and can prevent constipation. However, they’re also choking hazards for small dogs.

iStock.com/Marina07

Pistachios

Pistachios contain potassium, which helps with blood circulation. It also has monounsaturated fats, which are good for the proper functioning of the heart by lowering the level of bad cholesterol. However, a single pistachio equals four calories. Their high energy profile makes them a poor choice for your dog. Too many pistachios will make your dog gain weight, increasing its chances of joint diseases and other weight-induced complications.

Pistachios are not poisonous but they grow alongside poisonous plants such as poison ivy and Aspergillus, whose byproducts are toxic to dogs. If your pistachios are straight from the farm, don’t let your dog have them.

Unsalted, unseasoned, and processed pistachios are safe for dogs.

pistachios
Don’t buy pistachios if they’re straight from a farm, because they may have grown alongside plants which could poison your dog!

Dumblin Films/Shutterstock.com

Nuts Dogs Should Not Eat.

Even though nuts don’t contribute to a healthy dog diet, some nuts are a no-go area. The risks greatly outweigh the benefits of these nuts.

Almonds

Almonds aren’t safe for dogs because they can’t chew or soften them with saliva. It also takes quite a while for dogs to digest almonds because their intestinal tracts aren’t used to such hard nuts. Almonds may make your dog choke. Even if it succeeds in swallowing the nut, it may cause intestinal blockage.

Almonds also contain unhealthy amounts of phosphorus, which causes injuries to your dog’s kidneys and bladder. This article focuses on how almonds affect your dog. Forcing your dog to digest nuts like almonds may cause inflammation of the pancreas due to their high-calorie content and kidney damage.

almonds
Almonds are too hard for your dog to chew and contain high levels of phosphorus, which can damage your dog’s kidneys and bladder.

Owl_photographer/Shutterstock.com

Hazelnuts

Your dog should not have hazelnuts, especially if it is a small breed. The toughness of this nut makes it challenging to digest, and it is likely to cause intestinal blockage because your dog can’t chew it. It is too small to chew but too big to move through the intestines freely. 

The shape of this nut also poses a problem. After causing an intestinal blockage, your dear pup may try to expel the nut from its bowel forcefully. Hazelnuts may cause intestinal and anal tears on their way out.

Couple this with their poor nutritional value for dogs, and you’ll see why you’re better off without hazelnuts.

Many hazelnut butter and spreads contain chocolate, which is always a NO. 

hazelnuts
The nutritional content Hazelnuts have for your dog is poor, plus they present a choking hazard.

Svetlana_Smirnova/Shutterstock.com

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts trump the list of nuts to not feed your dog, right after chocolate, salt, and grapes. We aren’t exactly sure what makes macadamia nuts so toxic. Recent research shows that even one nut can cause your dog to display the symptoms of macadamia poisoning. Some signs of macadamia poisoning are weakness in the hind legs, diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, lethargy, and fever.

Fortunately, macadamia poisoning is not lethal. It may cause a bad day for you and your dog, or perhaps a bad week, but your dog will ultimately recover at home. Despite its low mortality rate, we advise that you keep macadamia nuts out of your dog treats entirely. 

Macadamia nuts
Researchers aren’t sure why, but Macadamia nuts are toxic for your dog.

Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock.com

Walnuts 

With walnuts, there are the good kinds and the wrong kinds. English walnuts are relatively safe once peeled, even though they contain lots of fat. On the other hand, black walnuts have unsafe levels of juglone, a chemical that causes seizures and convulsions in dogs. Black walnuts also contain a lot of moisture, making them an appropriate breeding ground for molds. The byproducts of molds, mycotoxins, are poisonous to dogs.

English walnuts have a soft shell, while black walnuts have a tough, black cover that earns them their name.

If you buy a snack with walnuts but can’t tell if they are English or Black, it is best to leave it out totally. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

Walnuts
English walnuts are actually okay for dogs, but under no circumstances should they have Black walnuts, which can cause your dog to go into connvulsions.

Melica/Shutterstock.com

What Should I Do if My Dog Eats Nut?

From this list, you can tell which nuts pose a definite threat and which ones not to bother. However, if your dog overeats any nut, speak to your vet immediately. Also, call your vet if you suspect your dog has eaten the shell of a non-toxic nut. 

You can also contact the Animal Poison Control Center for more advice.

If you think your dog needs a change of diet and you’re looking for a healthy, fun addition, try some fruits and vegetables. Not too fast, though! Some fruits are just as toxic as nuts. Read this article to find out which fruits are safe for dogs.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can dogs eat peanut butter?

Yes, dogs can eat peanut butter as long as it is unsalted, unseasoned, and has no chocolate, preservatives, or additives. Sounds tough? You can make peanut butter from scratch or buy peanut butter brands created for dogs.

Can dogs have popcorn?

Regular human popcorn isn’t so safe for dogs. It usually contains salt, oil, or butter, which aren’t suitable for your canine. However, dogs can have unsalted, unseasoned popcorn that was air-popped.

Dogs may also choke on the un-popped corn seeds, so you’d do well to pick those out first.

Is it okay for dogs to eat seeds?

Some seeds are a great nutritional addition, while others are downright toxic. Some seeds your dog can eat are chia seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds.

Is honey okay for dogs?

Yes, in small quantities. You can spice up your dog’s meal by dribbling a teaspoon of honey on it as a special treat. You can also give your dog a little honey when it has a cough or an upset stomach.

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