Your dog goes absolutely bonkers when you reach for the peanut butter jar. But just because that tasty spread is OK (in most cases) to feed your pup in moderation, that doesn't mean all nuts are fair game. Here's a rundown of some common nuts and whether it's safe to feed them to your pooch.
Peanuts are safe for dogs to eat, says the American Kennel Club. Like peanut butter, peanuts contain healthy fats and protein that are good for your dog. Just don't give your pet too many. An abundance of fat can cause vomiting and diarrhea and eventually lead to serious pancreas problems. It sounds like common sense, but Dogster points out that you need to make sure you don't feed the dog peanuts that are in the shell. And stick to the unsalted variety, which are much healthier for your pet.
Almonds aren't toxic, says the AKC, but they can be dangerous in other ways. They can block your dog's esophagus or manage to tear his nearby windpipe if they aren't chewed completely. Like any salted nut, salted almonds can make your dog retain water, which can be life-threatening to pets prone to heart disease. And, like most nuts, almonds are high in fat. So too many almonds can cause gastric distress and lead to pancreatic issues.
Macadamia nuts are some of the most poisonous foods for dogs, according to the AKC. It's key to not only keep the nuts away from your pet, but also any foods that contain macadamias, because they can be fatal. Just a few raw or roasted macadamia nuts can make your dog sick, according to WebMD. Symptoms of poisoning include weakness, vomiting, muscle tremors, depression and a change in body temperature. Symptoms typically appear within 12 hours after your dog eats the nuts and usually last between 12 to 48 hours, says the ASPCA. Eating chocolate that contains macadamia nuts is even more dangerous and can make symptoms much worse and can even threaten your dog's life.
Cashews aren't toxic to dogs, so it's typically OK to give your pet just a few for an occasional treat. The AKC points out that the nuts have calcium, magnesium, protein and antioxidants, which are all good for your dog. And even though they have less fat than some other nuts, too many cashews can still cause stomach upset and make your dog gain weight. If you choose to give your dog a couple cashews, be sure they're unsalted.
Fresh English walnuts, the kind most people eat, can cause a problem for dogs because they are high in fat. Also, because dogs often tend not to chew their food completely, these larger nuts can be harder to digest and can cause obstructions, reports Dogster. But there are other truly dangerous issues with walnuts. According to Nationwide pet insurance, walnut poisoning is one of the most common claims for toxic ingestion. That's likely from moist, old or moldy walnuts, particularly black walnuts. Moldy walnuts contain toxins that can trigger seizures or neurological symptoms. To be safe, many veterinarians warn pet owners to keep walnuts away from pets.
Like many nuts, pistachios are rich in fat. Too many of them can cause gastrointestinal problems and can lead to pancreatitis, points out Dogster. If you choose to feed them to your pup, make sure they are shelled and unsalted and you only feed a few of them occasionally.
Pecans aren't toxic to dogs, says the ASPCA. However they are high in fat. Too many can cause diarrhea and vomiting and can potentially lead to pancreatic problems. If you choose to feed pecans, make sure you give only a few of them — always out of the shell — to your pet occasionally. Like walnuts, pecans contain the substance juglone, which can be toxic to horses, causing a painful inflammatory hoof disease called laminitis. Some say juglone doesn't affect dogs unless ingested in incredibly large quantities, but you may want to be safe and keep pecans away from your pet.
What to do in emergencies
No matter how careful you are, it's tough to keep your dog from eating things he shouldn't. If you think your pet has eaten anything that is potentially toxic, call your vet, the nearest emergency vet clinic or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.