What Nuts Can Dogs Eat Safely?

dog eating walnuts from the bowl on the wooden chair

Most pet owners are familiar with their dogs eyeing our human food with real desire, eating the crumbs of food that fall to the ground after dinner, and occasionally, gobbling up a dish that was accidentally left in a place within reach of the canine. 

Of course, we often want to give in to our fluffy friend’s imploring eyes and give them a bit of a treat from our plate. Often, owners will even put some of their leftovers into their dog’s bowl. Depending on the type of food, this occasional treat can be harmless, while giving our four-legged friends great enjoyment and satisfaction. 

Since nuts are a healthy part of the human diet, and a preferred snack of many, it is natural to wonder whether we can let our dogs enjoy some of the nuts with us. Many dogs are known to love peanuts and peanut butter. The question, however, is whether it is safe and whether feeding dogs nuts can result in health problems. 

Although nuts have a lot of benefits when included in a human diet, the long-term effect of eating nuts on canine health is not entirely known. What many experts agree on, however, is that nuts are too calorie-dense and fatty for them to be a regular part of a canine’s diet. Still, most animal experts agree that occasionally giving a few nuts to your dog will likely not be harmful.

Of course, this will depend on which kind of nut you are giving them. In this article, we tackle the question, “what nuts are safe for dogs to eat?” and we also go over the types of nuts that can be harmful to dogs. Our goal is to keep you informed so that you can ensure that your dogs are happy and healthy. 

Women eating roasted chestnuts on sofa covered in blanket with small dog

View Table of Contents

Can Dogs Eat Nuts? 

Due to their high fiber, protein, and healthy fat content, nuts make great snacks for people. However, canines and their owners need to watch their nut intake. While there are some nuts that your pooch can eat, you should only treat them on special occasions.

Too many nuts (and too much peanut butter,  a common treat for dogs during training) can lead to dehydration and obesity. In fact, all nuts are risky for dogs to eat. This is because of their fat content, but also because nuts can be a serious choking hazard for dogs.

And while there are some nuts that only present a mild risk, there are other nuts that are highly toxic to dogs and can cause lasting health problems for your pup if he eats them. Moreover, eating the wrong type of nut can cause pancreatitis in dogs, and a fatty diet, in general, is linked to increased inflammation in the pancreas.

Thus, dogs can sometimes eat nuts, but it is important to be careful, and in general, it is best to choose an alternative treats for your dog. 

What Nuts Can a Dog Eat?

1. Peanuts

Peanuts, which are not technically nuts but legumes, are generally safe for dogs to eat. In fact, if you are going to feed your dog any type of nut, then peanuts are probably the best choice. However, the peanuts cannot be salted, since too much sodium can be toxic for dogs.

Moreover, they should not be coated, candied, or caramelized. Moreover, dogs should not be fed peanut shells, which can be a major choking hazard. However, some unsalted raw or roasted peanuts can, with moderation, be healthy. Peanuts are a good source of protein, which is an essential nutrient for dogs.

But that’s not all. Peanuts also contain arginine, an amino acid that is important in the production of nitric oxide, which helps with blood circulation. Because of this, peanuts can help to reduce your dog’s risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.

Of course, peanuts are high in fat, so pet parents will want to make sure that intake is kept to a minimum. Also, it is important to keep in mind that peanuts can cause allergic reactions in some dogs. 

2. Chestnuts 

Roasted chestnuts can be a welcome snack for your pooch, and when given in moderation, can even have some potential health benefits. The fiber content of chestnuts can help your dog avoid constipation. Chestnuts are a good source of vitamins C, B1 and B2, potassium, iron, and copper.

Of course, like all nuts, chestnuts are very high in fat, and for that reason should only be given in moderation. Additionally, they should be unseasoned and salt-free because, as we said above, salt can be toxic to your dog. 

3. Peanut Butter 

While peanut butter is not exactly a nut, it is important to mention it because it is such a common dog treat. In general, peanut butter in moderation is safe for dogs to eat, as long as it is not loaded with artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, sodium, and sugar. 

Before you let your dog eat some peanut butter, be sure to check the label for ingredients that might be harmful to canines. For example, Xylitol is a common ingredient in peanut butter, and it can be very harmful to your dog. Moreover, peanut butter intake should be kept to a minimum, since it is packed with fat. In general, treats should comprise no more than 10 percent of your dog’s diet. 

Nuts mix in a wooden plate

Nuts that Should be Avoided 

While some of the nuts in the list below are not necessarily toxic to dogs, they tend to cause more trouble than they are worth.

While some of the other nuts on the list can actually be poisonous to dogs and cause various health problems, even if they are only occasionally given as treats. In general, it is best to stay on the safe side and avoid all of the nuts listed below. However, we will be sure to not when a nut is actually toxic or poisonous to dogs and when a nut is not toxic but best avoided. 

1. Almonds

Almonds are not toxic for canines, and for that reason, dogs can eat them without too much cause for alarm.

That is, if your dog eats an almond of the floor, he is likely not in any real danger. However, you should not feed dogs Almonds because canines tend to digest almonds very poorly. Even unsalted almonds and almonds without coatings can upset your dog’s stomach, and if your dog has a sensitive stomach, almonds can cause gastric intestinal distress. 

Moreover, almonds are a serious choking hazard for dogs. Almonds are small in size, but they have a hard exterior which makes it difficult for dogs to chew and swallow them. Almonds can cause an obstruction in a dog’s throat or digestive system, which can be dangerous if not immediately treated.

For all of these reasons, it is best to avoid letting your dogs eat almonds. Another danger with almonds is not as common. Bitter almonds and bitter almond extract aren’t typically sold in stores in the U.S., but they can be found in some natural food stores.

If you purchase these items, it is incredibly important that you keep them far away from your dog. They contain cyanogenic glycosides, which can cause cyanide toxicity.” Symptoms of which might be mild, such as vomiting, rapid or no breathing, to severe, such as seizures, coma, and death.

2. Hazelnuts 

Like almonds, hazelnuts are not toxic to your dog, so if your dog eats a few, there is no need to call an emergency vet. However, hazelnuts are shaped in a way that makes them a serious choking hazard for dogs and can cause dangerous intestinal blockages. For this reason, you should not be in the habit of giving hazelnuts to your dog. 

3. Walnuts 

Walnuts should not be fed to dogs. Firstly, they pose a risk of intestinal obstruction and stomach irritation. But beyond that, walnuts can be toxic to dogs because of a high chance of mold contamination.

Moldy walnuts can contain fungi-producing tremorgenic mycotoxins, and if your dog is exposed to these, complications can occur, such as seizures and neurological complications. In particular, black walnuts are extremely dangerous for dogs. The nuts and the wood of the tree result in symptoms ranging from nausea and diarrhea to neurological complications.

Signs of poisoning might appear immediately but can also take up to a week. If your dog eats black walnuts, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. 

4. Cashews

For healthy dogs, one unsalted cashew or two won’t be harmful.

The cashews must be roasted or baked because when raw, they can contain a dangerous toxin, similar to the one found in poison ivy. But, even though they are technically safe for dogs to eat (in the right form), cashews have a high level of potassium and can cause health issues with dogs that are prone to urinary problems.

5. Acorns 

All oak is toxic, and acorns are not safe for your dog to eat. However, your pup would have to eat quite a few acorns to suffer from oak poisoning. However, two of the more primary dangers are choking on an acorn or getting a cap lodged in his intestinal tract, which might cause painful bowel obstruction.

6. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are toxic for dogs, but the precise cause of their toxicity is difficult to pinpoint.

The main theories are that the toxicity could be caused by a toxic constituent, processing contamination, or mycotoxin involvement. Whatever the precise cause of the toxicity, the symptoms that may occur for your dog after consuming macadamia nuts include vomiting, weakness, tremors, abdominal pain, and lameness. These symptoms will usually show up within 12 hours. 

7. Pecans 

Pecans are not safe for dogs to eat. Pecans are prone to molding, which creates natural toxins called juglone and aflatoxin.

The former might result in seizures and nerve damage, while the latter can cause liver disease if consumed in high doses. Poisoning probably won’t be a concern if your dog eats one or two pecans off the floor, but they can still be a choking hazard and cause intestinal discomfort.

8. Pistachios 

Pistachios can be harmful to canines. The nut itself is not toxic to dogs. However, these green nuts can carry Aspergillus mold that produces aflatoxin and can wreak havoc on your dog’s liver.

Apart from risky fungi lurking about, pistachios are also a choking hazard and can block your pooch’s intestinal tract. The high amount of fat in pistachios could also cause pancreatitis. If your dog does eat pistachios, it’s important to watch for signs of gastrointestinal distress. Even more, pistachios are high in calories, which can cause weight gain in dogs.

9. Pine Nuts 

Even though pine nuts are not on any list of nuts toxic to dogs, it’s still not a good idea to feed them to your pet.

High in fat and phosphorus, pine nuts can irritate your dog’s stomach even when eaten in small quantities. If your pups have eaten a large number of pine nuts or have been eating them regularly, they might develop pancreatitis or urinary tract complications.

10. Brazil Nuts 

Brazil nuts are not toxic to dogs, but they are not good for them either.

Brazil nuts are one of the fattiest nuts out there. Thus, brazil nuts can upset your dog’s stomach and cause a myriad of digestive issues. Long-term, eating brazil nuts can cause pancreatitis in canines, so it’s best to avoid giving these fatty nuts to your pooch.

So, Are Nuts Safe for Your Dog to Eat?

Even though there are quite a few nuts that are not toxic for your dog, they are generally not good for your dog.

Moreover, there are some nuts that are toxic for your dog and can cause serious health problems if ingested. While it is probably okay to occasionally give your dog peanuts or a spoonful of peanut butter, it is best not to make a habit of giving your dog nuts.

There are so many other treats that are far better for your dog, so even if your dog loves nuts as much as many humans do, it’s probably best to steer clear and choose other options. 

See more:

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.