Are Nuts Bad for Dogs? Be Careful to Feed Them.

Pet Food


April 1, 2020

It can generally go without saying that dogs are one of the most beloved pets that a person can have.

They are loyal companions, friendly, and fun to play with. Because of this, many people find that they want to be able to give their dogs treats. While there are certainly specially-made treats for dogs on the market, these can be drastically more expensive than morsels of food that you have at home.

However, in some situations, these treats are going to be much, much better for your dog than some of the foods that you can feed it.

Dogs, understandably, have a vastly different digestive system than people do. This means that dogs cannot digest particular foods nearly as well, or even at all. Some foods that people can eat are actually toxic to dogs, with the most well-known example of this being chocolate. With all of this being said, you will want to exercise caution if you choose to feed your dog some snacks that you have lying around the house.

One question that many people have, regarding what dogs can and cannot eat, is whether or not dogs are able to eat nuts, and if nuts are bad for dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Nuts at All?

Unfortunately, due to the nature of a dog’s digestive system, there isn’t really a short answer to this question. Your dog can likely eat a few nuts, but they have to be a very specific type, prepared in a specific way, and even then, your dog can only have a few at a time.

Most nuts will not be outright toxic for your dog to eat (although there are a few), but most nuts will cause their own fair share of digestive problems for your dogs. Some of these digestive problems can pose more of a threat to your dog’s health than others, and this is something you will need to keep in mind if you want to offer your dog treats.

If you want to play things safe and you want to avoid any potential problems with nuts, the best thing that you can do is just say “no” to feeding your dog nuts of any kind. If your dog has a craving for peanuts, you should consider feeding it peanut butter instead, which is a much safer alternative.

However, if you do want to run the risk of something going wrong, you should be well-informed on what kind of problems nuts can cause for your dog, which particular nuts can cause an issue, and what exactly you should do about these problems if your dog gets into a bag of nuts while you are not looking.

What Makes Nuts So Problematic for Dogs?

To put things simply, the biggest threat that nuts pose is that they have too much fat in them for your dog to be able to digest properly. Most nuts are also salted and/or seasoned, which means that they are also far too salty for your dog to safely eat as well. For certain dogs, there is also the threat of having the dog choke on the nut itself.

Finally, there is also the threat that a nutshell could tear the tissue in the digestive tract of your dog, causing considerable pain and distress.

Nuts, by nature, are very high in fats. Dogs are not designed to process such high concentrations of fat at once. If you try to feed your dog more than a couple nuts, then there is a good chance that you will cause pancreatic problems, upset stomach issues, and so on. Nobody really wants to clean up after a dog with an upset stomach, and nobody wants to give their dog such a hard time. This is one of the biggest and hardest to avoid threats that nuts can pose to your dog.

The second issue is that most nuts, as mentioned earlier, are salted or seasoned in some way. More often than not, the amount of salt and seasoning put onto the nuts can cause issues for your dog as well.

Particularly, commercially available nuts can dehydrate your dog very quickly. While this isn’t too much of an issue if your dog has easy access to water, it can cause severe problems if your dog eats more than a very, very small amount of these nuts. In fact, depending on the chemicals used to package the nuts, there’s a chance that they could be toxic to dogs.

With all of this being said, one might think that raw nuts that are unseasoned are a much better solution, but there are two problems with this. For one, this doesn’t solve the problem of the naturally occurring high amounts of fat that can be found in nuts. Additionally, raw nuts have the potential to have mold on them, which is far, far more dangerous for dogs than the fat content would be.

When all is said and done, staying away from nuts as a treat for your dog is usually a better idea, but it can be hard to say “no” to those puppy-dog eyes. Because of this, it is going to be important for you to differentiate between nuts that are simply not healthy for your dog in the slightest, and nuts that will actively harm your dog. Nuts should never, ever make up a notable portion of your dog’s diet. Chocolate or candied nuts are also something you should keep your dog far away from. 

What Types of Nuts Can You Feed Your Dog?

With all of the different problems that nuts can pose, it might seem difficult to find nuts that your dog can safely eat. If anything, this goes to show that nuts are not a natural dog treat and should not be thought of as such.

However, if your dog is begging relentlessly for the nuts you are eating, you should have an idea of which ones are going to be safer than others. Keep in mind that you should never, ever feed a dog more than a couple nuts, as all nuts are hard on your dog’s digestive system.

The most common type of nut that people think about when they think of dog treats is the peanut. As long as the peanut is removed from its shell and completely unsalted, and preferably free of chemicals of all types, then you can consider feeding your dog a few of your peanuts.

Thankfully, most dogs do not experience peanut allergies on the same level of severity and intensity as people do, but keep in mind that there is always going to be the possibility of an allergic reaction.

Almonds, cashews, and de-shelled pistachios fall into the category of not technically reaching toxic levels, but being extremely close to doing so. This is assuming that all of these nuts are unsalted and not chemically treated in any way.

Additionally, pistachios have to be de-shelled, as the shell can cause intestinal blockages. These nuts all have extremely high levels of fat in them, meaning that your dog might only be able to eat one or rarely two at a time. If you have a particularly small dog, or if you know that your dog has pancreatic issues, you should not risk it at all. These types of nuts must only be given to your dog very sparingly, as if there is too much fat in your dog’s system, it can cause a lot of problems for your dog’s pancreas.

What Types of Nuts Are Toxic for Your Dog?

There are a few different nuts that are an outright danger to your dog and that you should never try to feed to your dog. Two of the more common nuts in this category are walnuts and pecans. Not only do these nuts pose the same issue of having an extremely high-fat content, but these nuts also tend to be much larger than others.

Dogs, by nature, do not chew their food nearly as thoroughly as adults do. This is part of the reason why kibble size matters as much as it does. This means that there is a good chance that your dog will not thoroughly chew a walnut or a pecan all the way.

Unprocessed, large nuts can cause a bowel obstruction, which is quite a painful danger to your dog’s health, meaning that it will never be worth it to try to feed one of these to your dog.


There is the worst type of nut that you can feed your dog: macadamia nuts. In addition to the usual issue of nuts having too much fat for your dogs to properly digest, macadamia nuts are extremely toxic to dogs. It is not quite understood why macadamia nuts pose such a problem for dogs, but the fact of the matter is that they do.

Thankfully, it is rare for your dog to encounter these types of nuts, but it is still important for you to keep in mind. Even a single macadamia nut can be enough to cause toxicity symptoms to appear. These symptoms can range from tremors and dizziness to temporary paralysis, high fever, and so on.

If you believe that your dog has eaten even one macadamia nut, the first thing you should do is contact your veterinarian for further instructions, as it is not something that should be taken lightly.