Many people claim that dogs cannot eat walnuts, but do not know where the idea comes from. If you’ve been asking yourself the same question, you’ve landed on the right page.
The quick answer to ‘Can dogs eat walnuts?’ is yes, if you feed these nuts in moderation. In general, canine nutritionists agree that any food fed without moderation can be hazardous, and so is the case with walnuts. If you want to know whether there are any health benefits or harmful effects of feeding walnuts to your pup, let me get you through the details to clear your doubts.
Is Walnut Safe for Dogs?
According to Dr. Ashley Hughes, DVM, fresh walnuts are fine for dogs when they’re given as an occasional treat. If you’re eating walnuts, it is alright for the dog to partake too. But you need to be mindful of the quantity served.
Walnuts are rich in fat, so, many experts suggest that they are bad for your pooch when given in large quantities. Hughes also assures common walnuts aren’t toxic for dogs, but their high-fat content can make them sick. The main reason behind many experts’ warnings is that walnuts contain a mold that can be fatal for dogs.
When it comes to your dog’s safety, it all depends on the type of walnut you are feeding them. There are usually two types of walnuts: the common or English walnut and the black walnut. English walnuts are generally safe for your pooch to eat while black walnuts (not commonly eaten by people as well) can be toxic to them.
Can Dogs Eat Black Walnuts?
Absolutely not. Black walnuts are often moldier than common English walnuts. They may contain mycotoxins that are potentially carcinogenic. Some black walnuts also produce tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can be fatal to dogs.
Since walnuts contain high moisture, some common types of walnuts can also develop a fungus at any stage (from harvest to the store). These fungi also produce the same carcinogenic toxins. You can boil and dry the walnuts to reduce their moisture, but this won’t stop the growth of fungus.
Some of the symptoms to watch out for if your dog eats black walnuts or moldy walnuts are:
- Tremors and muscle weaknesses
- Fever or high body temperature
- Lack of appetite
Additionally, walnuts also tend to be larger than other nuts such as pistachios and peanuts. Larger nuts like walnuts can be difficult for dogs to digest and process, which in turn can obstruct their bowel movements.
As a dog owner, I know that dogs tend to wolf down their food. This can lead to a potential choking hazard, especially if the food has a hard shell, such as walnuts.
You might also be interested in ‘Can Dogs Eat Macadamia nuts?’
Are There Health Benefits Of Walnuts For Dogs?
Walnut is rich in healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals. Specifically, fresh walnuts are full of proteins, omega oils, and antioxidants that help lower cholesterol and blood sugar hence reducing blood pressure.
Some of the health benefits of feeding walnuts to dogs include:
- Walnuts can improve the dog’s coat and skin condition.
- Walnuts can produce healthy skin because they have omega 3 fatty acids which decrease wrinkles around the dog’s eyes, mouth, and other areas of skin exposure.
- They also contain vitamin E which helps provide an antioxidant in dogs’ diet.
- Walnuts contain good amounts of calcium which helps the dog’s teeth.
Can Dogs Eat Walnut Shell?
No. Dogs should not eat walnut shells. Just like any other nut, you should avoid feeding your dog, whole, shelled walnuts. If you do, the consequences could be serious. This is a severe health issue that can lead to intestinal blockages in dogs.
The problem is, the shells are too tough for the dog’s stomach acids and digestive enzymes to break down. Smaller dogs are in more danger of being impacted than larger ones because of their smaller digestive tract.
Points To Consider When Feeding Walnuts to Dogs
Be sure to take care of your dog if you decide to give a walnut-based treat. Dogs can eat them – but only in moderation.
Here are some points you should note when you want to give these nuts to your dog:
- Be sure the nuts don’t contain any mold and are well roasted.
- Freezing or cooking moldy or black walnuts won’t kill the mold spores so don’t risk it!
- Do not give your dog walnut shells because these can cause a lot of damage to their digestive system.
- If you have a sensitive dog that is allergic to walnuts, it is better to avoid feeding walnuts altogether.
- Walnuts contain a lot of fat, so make sure to only give a moderate amount.
What To Do If My Dog Eats Walnuts?
First off, don’t panic. If you notice your dog is eating fresh walnuts, then you don’t need to worry. A small amount of these nuts won’t cause any harm to your pup.
But if your pooch has consumed the walnut in a large quantity, they might display signs of stomach distress. Therefore, you might want to look out for any symptoms of obstruction, vomiting, diarrhea, and other signs mentioned earlier.
If you confirm that your dog has mycotoxin poisoning, immediately call your vet. Your furry friend’s situation can be more severe and fatal now.
When your pup is taken to the vet, the doctor will likely give activated charcoal to absorb the ingested walnut toxins from their digestive tract. If your dog has been poisoned by tremorgenic mycotoxins, they might experience seizures and muscle tremors.
It can take about two to three days for your dog or even a week for some senior dogs and puppies to fully recover after the treatment. After the recovery, if you happen to notice any returning symptoms, make sure you notify your vet as soon as possible.
Are Other Nuts Safe For Dogs?
Veterinarians do not generally recommend giving other nuts such as almonds, hickory nuts, macadamia nuts, and pistachios to dogs. Since all of these nuts are extremely rich in fat, ingesting most of them is known to cause stomach and gastric intestinal distress in canines.
For instance, pistachios can potentially cause pancreatitis, while macadamia nuts are known to cause severe neurological problems, lethargy, and even hyperthermia in dogs. Similarly, hickory and pecan nuts are also known to cause a digestive obstruction in dogs.
On the contrary, cashews and peanuts are usually considered safe for dogs if they’re provided in moderation.
So, should you give walnuts to your dog? The answer is yes if you provide them occasionally. The optimal decision is what type of walnuts to feed your dog. Walnuts are safe for dogs as long as you are aware of the molds these nuts can harbor. Also, remember to avoid shells of the walnuts before giving them to your dog.
Explore more about other nuts-related articles that you might be interested in.
Have you ever shared some walnuts with your dog? What was their reaction? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below.