Many dog owners give their pets nuts as a treat. Watching a dog lick peanut butter can be very entertaining. But most nuts aren't good for dogs and some can be dangerous. In fact, 95-98% of all reported animal cases are potential poisonings because pets accidentally eat something they shouldn’t.
Pecans are one of these offenders that seem harmless but are actually toxic for dogs. We’ll explain why pecans are poisonous and what to do if your dog accidentally eats some.
Why Pecans are Toxic for Dogs
Pecans contain juglone, a compound found in walnuts and pecans that is harmful to dogs and horses. Juglone can cause digestive issues, which usually results in vomiting. Pecans can also get a mold that contains aflatoxin called aspergillus. If your dog eats a moldy pecan, it can cause seizures and tremors.
Other nuts that are toxic for dogs:
- Black Walnuts: Can cause neurologic and musculoskeletal problems.
- Macadamia Nuts: Can cause muscle weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
If your dog has eaten one of these toxic nuts and you notice these symptoms:
- Muscle Weakness
Contact your veterinarian immediately. These are signs of more serious neurological and musculoskeletal conditions. To treat your dog, your vet may increase fluids, prescribe medication, or perform blood work to get an accurate assessment of the toxicity.
Do Pecans Provide any Health Benefits for Dogs?
Pecans are full of healthy fiber, vitamins, protein, and good fats. They also contain antioxidants, which can be very beneficial. Unfortunately, for your dog to get the benefits from pecans, it would need to consume toxic levels of pecans. So feeding your dog only one or two pecans doesn’t have any significant health benefits.
What Happens if a Dog Eats a Pecan?
If your dog only eats a couple pecans, they should be okay. Smaller dogs may need to be monitored for symptoms. But if your dog eats a moldy pecan or eats several pecans, you should watch for these symptoms:
- Blood in the stool
If your dog shows any of these severe signs, you should contact your veterinarian. If there is blood in the stool, call immediately because it could be life-threatening.
If you have a pecan tree in your yard, you will need to be vigilant about picking up any fallen nuts before letting your dog into the yard. Also, be careful when walking your dog in neighborhoods with pecan trees to keep them from snatching up a bad pecan.
Can One Nut Kill a Dog?
No. One or two nuts will not kill your dog, but they can get very sick depending on their size. If your dog accidentally eats a pecan, you’ll want to watch them closely for signs of distress. If your dog shows signs and doesn’t improve, you’ll want to call your vet for further assessment.
Are Other Nuts Safe for Dogs?
While pecans are not safe, these nuts are safe for your dog to eat:
Cashews and peanuts are the safest nuts and don’t contain any toxins. You can also give your dog cashew butter or peanut butter without worrying about side effects. But be aware these nuts are high in fat and calories.
Be Aware of Pistachios and Almonds
While pistachios and almonds are not toxic for dogs, they can be choking hazards because of their shape. If you have a dog that gulps its food, you need to keep pistachios and almonds out of reach.
Risks of Using Nuts for Treats
Some dog owners use nuts for treats, but nuts do have some risks you should note before offering them to your dog as a snack:
Nuts are High in Fat
Nuts have a high-fat content that can create gastrointestinal indigestion if your dog has a sensitive stomach. The high fat can also aggravate and inflame the pancreas, which can lead to pancreatitis. Symptoms of pancreatitis include:
- Loss of appetite
If you notice these symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian for further assessment.
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Related Link: Dietary Fats for Pets
Nuts are High in Calories
Because nuts are high in calories, you should not give your dog nuts if they are overweight. Treats should be less than 10% of their daily calories. That’s why nuts and nut spreads should be given sparingly or only as a delivery device to help a dog take a pill (by covering it in peanut butter).
Nuts can Have Dangerous Coatings
You need to be mindful of the coating on the nuts you want to share with your dog. Some coatings can be harmful or toxic for dogs, such as:
- High Salt
Before giving your dog a nut, you should read the label for the nuts to ensure there is nothing toxic. Even though the coating is thin, it can still give your dog digestion issues. And nuts that are too salty can cause high blood pressure or urinary stones.
Finding Better Snack Options
Veterinarians generally don’t recommend giving your dog nuts because they can cause gastrointestinal issues or blockage. You can use peanut butter to help your dog take medication, but you don’t want to feed them nuts very often because the high-fat content can cause obesity and pancreatitis.
Unfortunately, most dogs will eat anything you offer them, so you need to be aware of the snacks you are feeding to your dog. Instead of nuts, you may want to provide healthy snacks that have more nutrition and benefit your dog’s overall health.
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Related Link: Reasons Why Whole Fish is Good For Your Dog