What Nuts Are Deadly to Dogs?

by Carlye Jones
    Some nuts can make your dog very ill.

    Some nuts can make your dog very ill.

    Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

    Dogs are masters at begging, stealing or "borrowing" human treats. Most of the time a little taste of people food isn't going to kill your furry friend. When it comes to nuts, however, the best policy is to keep his paws (and slobbery lips) off of them.

    Macadamia Nuts

    Macadamia nuts are dangerous for dogs to eat. Your healthy adult dog is not likely to die from a few of these nuts since they are only mild to moderately toxic, but if he has other health problems, is very young or old or chows down on a whole lot of them, it could be fatal. Something in macadamia nuts just doesn't agree with dogs, although researchers aren't sure exactly what. Lack of muscle coordination, high fever, tremors and an increased heart rate are the most common symptoms of ingestion. Adding to the danger of macadamia nuts is the fact that they are often found, and eaten by dogs, in combination with chocolate. The combined effects of a reaction to the nuts and the chocolate can be fatal for even the healthiest dog.


    It's not so much that walnuts are toxic for dogs, although they might cause a stomach ache, it's that they can cause intestinal blockages. Dogs aren't so good at chewing up walnuts. They tend to get in a hurry and swallow large chunks. These chunks don't break down very easily in the stomach and can move into the intestine and stop up the entire digestive system. If it goes untreated, the blockage could be fatal. Walnut shells can have the same effect.


    Like walnuts, pistachios are not really toxic to dogs, and an occasional pistachio isn't likely to have much effect on a healthy adult dog. A large amount of pistachios, however, can cause pancreatitis, or a swelling of the pancreas. Enzymes released by the pancreas can cause damage in other parts of the body, causing death. Many cases of pancreatitis can be successfully treated, but if too much damage is done there is not much the veterinarian can do to save your dog. Even though they aren't necessarily poisonous, it's best to keep pistachios away from your pooch.

    Moldy Nuts

    Most dogs will eat just about anything they think they're not supposed to, including moldy nuts. Moldy walnuts and pecans are often eaten by dogs, but any moldy nut can cause serious problems. These rotten nuts can cause seizures and loss of motor skills. In large amounts they can be deadly.

    Other Risks

    Dogs are not really meant to eat any type of nut. While nuts have a lot of protein, they also have a lot of fat. In large amounts, just about any type of nut could be fatal, either by causing pancreatitis or salt toxicity. Peanuts, for example, are not toxic, but can be dangerous because of their high fat content and the fact that large amounts of salt is usually added. Many dogs, just like people, are also allergic to certain nuts. A severe reaction could cause the throat and nose to swell rapidly, choking your dog to death. Dogs don't need nuts as part of their diet, so it's better to be safe and avoid them altogether.

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    About the Author

    Carlye Jones is a journalist, writer, photographer, novelist and artisan jeweler with more than 20 years of experience. She enjoys sharing her expertise on home improvements, photography, crafting, business and travel. Her work has appeared both in print and on numerous websites.

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