The Protein Packed Snack: Can Dogs Eat Nuts?

Smiling white Wheaton dog being handed a treat

If you’re like us, snacking is a must! And, if you’re like us, you probably feel the need to extend a few treats to our loveable pet companions. 

Nuts are a popular choice for snackers because they’re relatively good for us, despite the fat content (but it’s good fat, right?}. Since our dog companions adore peanut butter, it would seem that nuts are a healthy choice for rewarding them with something special. Not so fast, though.

While most nuts are not toxic, there are some that should be avoided when treating your dog to a snack. The question of, can dogs eat nuts, is a great one, and the Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital are here to give you the scoop.

A Pack of Nuts: Which Ones Are Safe for Dogs?

When it comes to nuts, not all are as safe as Rover’s favored peanut butter. Some of them are difficult to digest while others contain compounds that can cause your pet to become sick. Here are some of the more popular  nuts and the verdict on whether or not they are safe for your furry loved one.

1. Almonds –Almonds are one of the best snacks for humans, and dogs love them too. Unfortunately, many almonds are flavored and salted, which can lead to stomach upset. Almonds are also high in fat and can create gastrointestinal problems as well as weight gain. Since these nuts are also hard to digest, like most hard nuts, give your pet only one or two on occasion or avoid them altogether.

2. Brazil Nuts – Another nut that is high in fat content, so therefore rich for most canines’ palette. They are also hard to chew and there is a choking risk for small dogs especially. They are acrid in taste, as well, so not the best choice for a doggie snack.

3. Cashews – This nut is generally fine for dogs as a spread or whole. Just be mindful of how much you give, since this is one of the fattiest of all of the nuts. Cashews cannot be cooked without releasing a toxin, so use these delicious yet high in calorie nuts in moderation and given raw or as a nut butter.

4. Walnuts – This type of nut has a toxin in it that can cause vascular disease in horses, but doesn’t affect dogs in the same way. This bitter nut can be hard to digest and can create a gastrointestinal obstruction which can lead to a veterinary emergency. They are also known to mold easily, and molds of any kind are harmful to pets. It’s best to avoid this nut when feeding your dog.

5. Chestnuts – This nut, that is popular around the holidays, is mostly safe for dogs, except that it can cause a stomachache in some. Roasted chestnuts can be a delicious alternative to peanuts, but use this nut sparingly in your dog’s array of treats.

6. Pecans – If you drool over the thought of a piece of pecan pie, we can relate, but are pecans okay for dogs? Pecans contain a few different compounds that are toxic to canines (and horses), which include juglone and aflatoxin. Never feed your pet pecans to avoid liver damage and a serious pet emergency.

7. Macadamia Nuts – Whether raw or roasted this is a nut your dog should avoid at all costs. Macadamia nut poisoning includes tremors, vomiting, muscle weakness, and fever. Researchers have yet to isolate why this nut causes serious reactions, but macadamia nut poisoning is one of the more serious of food based toxicity in dogs.

8. Pistachios – Like walnuts, these nuts can contain a mold that is very toxic to dogs when ingested. This form of toxicity can result in liver failure, so stash those pistachios away from your Fido.

Should Peanuts Always be a Go-to for Dogs?

Peanuts are actually not a nut but a legume. Much like other nuts, though, they shouldn’t be a primary staple of your pet’s diet. In fact, peanuts also contain a lot of fat, which can lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, and pancreatitis in larger quantities. 

The other issue to be aware of is peanut butter with added sweeteners. Some brands include the sugar substitute, Xylitol, which is highly poisonous to dogs. Always read the label on your favorite nut butter before giving your pup a taste.

Wheaton’s Top Veterinarians

We know that our four-legged friends love to eat what we also enjoy, but there are some considerations before they snack. Even safer nuts cannot be given in large quantities, as with any people food. If you have any additional questions on the topic of can dogs eat nuts, contact Wheaton’s top veterinarians today. We look forward to seeing you and your pet at their next wellness checkup!

Keeping Your Exotic Pet Mentally Healthy and Happy

A brown guinea pig and white guinea pig

In most traditional pets, it is well understood that without playtime and things to do, they become restless, bored, and depressed. This is why there are so many pet enrichment items on the market, knowing that a pet’s total wellness isn’t complete without a focus on behavioral or mental well-being.
This same belief is true for exotic pets. In order for them to be healthy and well adjusted, they also need things to do. The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital are here to explain the steps to keeping your exotic pet mentally healthy for a lifetime of good health.

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