Can Dogs Eat Nuts?

Amanda Ardente, DVM, PhD
By Amanda Ardente, DVM, PhD. Reviewed by Veronica Higgs, DVM on Jan. 18, 2023
person sitting on counter in a white kitchen while dog tries to jump up

Nuts might seem like a perfectly sized tasty treat for your dog, but are nuts safe for your furry friend? There’s no easy answer—each nut is different, and the way they’re fed has a big impact on safety as well.

Here’s some insight on whether dogs can have nuts, and the risks you should be aware of.

Can Dogs Have Nuts?

While small amounts of certain nuts and nut butters may be safely fed to your dog, it’s important to be aware of all risk factors and potential toxicities. Many of the nuts in our pantries are nontoxic to dogs, but there are a few types of nuts that are toxic to pups. And any nut that’s become moldy is toxic to dogs, too.

Toxicity isn’t the only thing to be aware of: Although they are small in size, all nuts are high in fat and calories. Even when only offered as a small snack or treat, a little goes a long way. Some nuts can also be a potential choking hazard for dogs or intestinal blockage.

For many pups, it may be wise to steer clear of nuts and select a safer treat option that provides fewer calories, less fat and salt, and less concern for toxicity and choking.

Here are some risks of giving nuts as treats.

 Nuts Are High in Calories and Can Cause Weight Gain

For dogs that are overweight or prone to weight gain, nuts should be avoided, as there are much lower-calorie human foods that can be given as treats instead, like green beans, apples, or even air-popped popcorn that’s free of butter and salt.

If you do give your dog small amounts of peanut butter to take pills, for instance, you should not allow the calories provided by all combined treats (including the peanut butter) to exceed 10% of their total daily calories. This helps prevent treats from unbalancing your dog’s diet.

This table provides the approximate caloric content (kcal/100g)* of various types of nuts:

Nut Type

Calories (kcal*/100g)

Almonds, blanched

590

Almonds, dry roasted, unsalted

598

Cashews, dry roasted, unsalted

574

Cashews, raw

553

Peanuts, dry roasted, unsalted

587

Peanuts, raw

567

Pecans, dry roasted, unsalted

710

Pecans, raw

691

Pistachios, dry roasted, unsalted

572

Pistachios, raw

560

Walnuts, English raw

654

*Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central database, standard references

Nuts Have High Fat Content That Can Cause Pancreatitis

Additionally, nuts’ high fat content can cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset in dogs with sensitive stomachs or those prone to developing pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a condition where the pancreas becomes irritated and inflamed, and it usually requires a visit to the veterinarian.

Symptoms can include:

Some breeds, like Miniature, Standard, and Giant Schnauzers, are prone to this condition, and a high-fat diet in sensitive dogs can sometimes trigger the irritation.

Nuts Can Have Coatings That Are Dangerous for Dogs

Nuts can be coated with ingredients like cocoa or spices like garlic, which can be toxic to pets. Nuts can also have other flavorful coatings that can cause GI upset in our four-legged friends, as well as dangerously high salt content.

What Types of Nuts Are Safe or Toxic for Dogs?

While some nuts are technically safe for dogs, there are still concerns you should keep in mind based on the type of nut.

Can Dogs Eat Peanuts or Peanut Butter?

Shelled, unseasoned peanuts are generally safe for dogs to eat, outside of the considerations mentioned above. Dogs should not be fed peanut shells or hulls, they are not very digestible and could cause an upset tummy or be a choking hazard. 

Nut butters, like peanut butter or almond butter, are commonly offered as treats or used to administer a dog’s medications. However, it is important to remember that, like nuts, nut butters are also high in calories, fat, and salt, so they should be used sparingly.

Before giving your dog peanut butter—or any nut butter—review the ingredient list carefully, because some nut butters are made with the artificial sweetener xylitol. Xylitol is very dangerous for dogs, as it causes low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and, in some animals, liver failure.

Can Dogs Eat Walnuts?

Be sure you know what type of walnut you feed your dog. English walnuts are generally safe for dogs to eat, outside of the considerations mentioned above. But black walnuts (a type of walnut not commonly eaten by people) are toxic for dogs.

The symptoms of toxicity are vomiting, muscle weakness, tremors, a high temperature, and seizures. Black walnuts should never be fed to dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Macadamia Nuts?

Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and can cause the same symptoms as black walnuts (vomiting, muscle weakness, tremors, a high temperature, and seizures. Never feed macadamia nuts to any dog.

Can Dogs Eat Pistachios?

Pistachios, both with and without their shells, can be choking hazards for dogs due to their size and shape. That said, pistachios are not toxic to dogs, so if your pup should be OK if they manage to swallow one.

Can Dogs Eat Cashews?

Cashews are generally safe for dogs to eat, outside of the considerations mentioned above.

Can Dogs Eat Pecans?

Pecans are generally safe for dogs to eat, outside of the considerations mentioned above.

Can Dogs Eat Almonds?

Almonds, with or without their shells, can be choking hazards for dogs due to their size and shape. But you can safely give your dog a lick of almond butter as a treat or with their medications—as long as it has no harmful additives.

Featured Image: iStock/g-stockstudio


Amanda Ardente, DVM, PhD

WRITTEN BY

Amanda Ardente, DVM, PhD

Veterinarian

Dr. Amanda Ardente founded Ardente Veterinary Nutrition LLC in August 2017, based on a long-term goal of combining her passion for...


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