image of different kinds of nuts, with text Can dogs eat nuts?

Which Nuts Can Dogs Eat?

Are You Worried About Whether You Can Feed Your Dog A Certain Kind Of Nut? Check The Dog-Safe Nut List And Get Free Dog Treat Recipes With Dog-Safe Nuts In Them

Certain types of food are universally accepted as good for your dog, and others are known to be bad. And then there’s a huge grey area of food items that some animal nutritionists are in favour of, yet others aren’t. Whilst one type of nut is very definitely on the NO-GO list, others are in that grey area, defended by some and defamed by others.

So, let’s review which nuts dogs can eat, and which nuts are bad for dogs. Plus, we’ll offer you some delicious, healthy dog treat recipes that you can make with dog-safe nuts.

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Table Of Contents

WHICH NUTS CAN’T DOGS EAT?

MACADAMIA NUTS

The one nut that is known to be bad for dogs is the macadamia nut.

The macadamia nut is commonly used as an ingredient in cookies, so if you’re prone to share your snacks with your pooch, please, check the ingredients first.

The exact toxin in macadamia nuts is still unknown. What is known though, is that it can affect both a dog’s nervous and digestive system, as well as the muscles. What is also known is that it causes gastro-intestinal problems.

Some dogs can get ill from just the tiniest amount of macadamia nuts, whilst others would have to eat a lot before showing signs of illness. Macadamia nut poisoning can result in a nasty cocktail of symptoms, which are likely to show within 12 hours of eating the nuts. Current research however suggests that most dogs should recover from macadamia nut poisoning after 24 hours.

SYMPTOMS OF MACADAMIA NUT TOXICITY

  • Weakness, especially in rear legs
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swollen limbs
  • Paralysis of rear legs
  • Ataxia (balance problems)
  • Muscle tremors
  • Hyperthermia
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Lameness
  • Stiffness

THE GREY AREA: WHEN NUTS CAN BE BAD FOR DOGS

You might have read elsewhere that nuts are bad for dogs because they are harder for dogs to digest than they are for us to digest. For the majority of dogs though, eating nuts in moderation has no impact at all on their digestive system. There is only one nut known to cause gastro intestinal problems, and that is the macadamia nut.

However, some dogs, just like some people, do have a gastrointestinal upset when eating certain things, nuts included. Likewise, a few dogs may have allergies to some foods.

Start with a very small amount of whichever nut you wish to feed, and make sure that your pet isn’t one of the few dogs with a sensitivity to that kind of nut.

If your dog is unlucky enough to have an intolerance for a particular nut, you might see these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gas
  • Lack of appetite

In general, nuts are nutritious and can provide your dog with a variety of minerals, vitamins and healthy fats.
– Give nuts in moderation. Too much high-fat food can lead to health problems including pancreatitis
– Whichever type of nut you give your dog, be sure to give them only unflavoured and unsalted nuts
– Feed nuts chopped or ground, not whole: this will avoid any choking hazards
– Feed fresh nuts, within their Use-By date. Old nuts may be rancid or mouldy
– Only give your dog nuts with the shell and husk removed. Unshelled nuts can present risk of choking, or of sharp shards damaging the digestive system. Some husks may contain mould

PEANUT BUTTER

Technically, peanuts are not actually nuts. They’re legumes (in the same family as peas and lentils).

And I know this is not going to be a popular opinion for some pet parents, but in the argument for or against peanut butter, I am against. Let me explain why.

To extend the shelf life of peanut butter, to make it sweeter, and to stop the oil separating from the solids, some rather unwelcome ingredients are added to peanuts in the production of peanut butter. These include sugar, hydrogenated oil, palm oil, flavouring, and the very worst, xylitol. Xylitol is terribly toxic to dogs, and can potentially lead to death.

You might already be aware of xylitol and check for it on ingredient labels, but did you know that it goes by lots of other names too? Birch sugar, birch bark extract, anhydroxylitol, zylatol, xylite, d-xylitol, xylitylglucoside, E967, Meso-Xylitol, Sucre de Bouleau, Xilitol, Xylit, Xylo-pentane-1,2,3,4,5-pentol…

On top of that, depending on the source of the peanuts, there may be mycotoxins in the peanuts which could potentially poison your dog.

NUTS THAT DOGS CAN EAT

ALTERNATIVES TO PEANUT BUTTER FOR DOGS

CAN DOGS HAVE ALMOND BUTTER? Absolutely! If I need something to do the same job that peanut butter would have done, I use almond butter. Almond butter doesn’t come with the same ingredient warnings for dogs that peanut butter does. What’s more, almond butter is slightly more nutritious than peanut butter, and it has more healthy fats and more fibre.

Another point to consider is that some people are allergic to peanuts, so having a jar of peanut butter in the house, albeit for your dog, is not a great idea. Peanuts are legumes, whereas almonds are tree nuts. Someone who is allergic to peanuts may well be fine eating tree nuts.

However, it’s important to feed nut butters in moderation. Use them especially sparingly if your dog is on a diet or suffers from pancreatitis: nuts and nut butters are high in calories. There’s just under 100 calories in a tablespoon of either almond or peanut butter. However, be sure to avoid reduced fat nut butters as they might contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, known to be horribly toxic to dogs. Instead, look for a 100% pure nut butter with no added ingredients.

DIY NUT BUTTER

The safest way to feed any nut butter is to make it yourself. Given that nut butters can go off quickly, prepare only as much as you’re likely to use within the next fortnight. Any butter that you don’t immediately use can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Some years ago I had a food business, and I got into the habit of putting a sticky label on containers of food in the fridge, with the date on it. This is a habit I continue with these days and it’s surprisingly useful for keeping the fridge clear of out-of-date food.

If you have a food processor in your home, then making a nut butter is as easy as throwing a handful of nuts in the blender and blending them until they are creamy. This may take a few minutes, depending on the nut and your processor, so don’t make your processor’s motor overheat. Let it cool down after blending for a couple of minutes and then start again.

For more information about nut butters for dogs, watch this informative video by holistic vet Dr. Karen Becker.

According to pet nutrition writer Rodney Habib, these three nuts are the best nuts for dogs:

ALMONDS

Almonds are super nutritious, offering:

  • High levels of Vitamin E
  • High levels of Manganese
  • High levels of Magnesium
  • Great source of antioxidants
  • A decent amount of copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and phosphorus
  • Good source of calcium and potassium

I always have almonds in my pantry, not just for my own use, but to use in my dog treat recipes too.

IS ALMOND FLOUR SAFE FOR DOGS? Yes, and almonds can easily be ground down into flour as an ingredient in dog treats – see this article for more information ‘Which flour to use in dog treats

ALMOND WARNINGS

Don’t feed whole almonds to your dog – be sure to chop or crush them first. Whole almonds could get stuck in a dog’s oesophagus, windpipe or intestines, causing a blockage.

Since almonds start to oxidise as soon as you crush them, only crush them when you plan to use them. Don’t use old almonds that may be turning rancid.

BRAZIL NUTS

Brazil nuts are also very nutritious, offering:

  • Highly concentrated levels of selenium
  • Higher concentrations of magnesium, copper, and zinc than most other nuts
  • Rich in phosphorus
  • Decent levels of manganese, thiamine and Vitamin E
  • Great source of antioxidants

WALNUTS

Walnuts are also super nutritious, offering:

  • Good source of calcium and potassium
  • Melatonin
  • Polyphenols
  • Higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut
  • Higher antioxidant levels than other common nuts

DOG TREAT RECIPES WITH NUTS

These three recipes all contain almond flour as one of the ingredients.

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FAQ

CONCLUSION

In general, dogs can eat all nuts except macadamia nuts. Nuts are nutrient dense and are good sources of fibre and protein. Although nuts are usually high in fat, it is healthy fat. They can be fed in moderation, but should be fed chopped or crushed.

thumb image making a snuffle mat guide
Image of different types of nuts with text, Can my dog eat nuts?

REFERENCES

Food toxic to dogs: Macadamia Nuts

Healthline: Peanut Butter vs Almond Butter

Healthline: Almonds

Healthline: Walnuts

Mycotoxins in Peanuts

The European Pet Food Industry

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