Dogs and human food may be a tricky topic to navigate. As pet owners, we sometimes can’t help but want to share our favorite snacks with our animal companions. However, most foods safe for us may have adverse effects on our dogs. And because a dog can’t always tell what’s healthy and what’s not, it’s up to us pet parents to keep their paws away from foods that might trigger allergic reactions for them.
Some pet owners may consider bite-sized treats like flavored almonds to be good healthy alternatives for dog food. Such nuts contain vitamins and nutrients that humans benefit a lot from, thus making it easy to assume these are safe and tasty treats for our dogs too. However, this is not always the case since some nuts can cause harm than good. It is our responsibility as pet owners to check nut varieties if they contain allergens that deem them inedible for our dogs. This article will go over the list of nuts dogs can and cannot eat, as well as signs and symptoms to look out for in terms of allergy and toxicosis.
Related Topic: Are Dogs Allergic to Avocado? A (Guide for Dog Owners)
Can a Dog Have a Nut Allergy
First off, one question to ask yourself is, do you know if your dog has a history of food allergies? Some nuts may trigger allergies if the dog is already prone to exhibit allergic reactions to allergens. The most immediate allergic reaction to nuts that a dog may show include discomfort caused by swollen and itchy skin.
More importantly, such allergic reactions may result in dogs developing chronic conditions caused by histamine. Dogs may experience constant gas, ear infections, and wheezing if they ingest allergen-containing nuts. These symptoms often happen when the dog’s immune system detects a threat; in this case, one that is coming from the protein found in a variety of nuts.
Other symptoms to look out for are bald patches, chronic inflammation in feet, coughing, diarrhea, face rubbing, head shaking, hives, obsessive licking and scratching, paw biting, unusual, and weak growth in puppies and adolescents, skin infections, and rashes. And although an allergic reaction to nuts may cause these signs, it may be symptoms of other ailments as well. It is still best to bring your dog to a trusted vet to get a proper diagnosis.
Which Nuts are Not Safe for Dogs
Before getting down to the list of nuts safe for dogs, let’s first discuss the ones that are not safe for their consumption. Some popular nuts can cause various adverse reactions to dogs, so educating yourself on these effects may save your dog from health complications, which in some cases are more lethal than others.
Nuts, typically from the legume family, are classified further into two categories: tree nuts and peanuts. Both types have varieties that are toxic to dogs.
Popular nut varieties like almonds, cashews, hickory nuts, pistachios, pecans, and walnuts are all tree nuts. The majority of nuts in this list may cause health complications and disorders that may threaten the life of your canine companion.
Among the list, those known to be toxic to dogs are hickory nuts, pecans, and walnuts. These nut types are sources of mold known to carry dangerous tremorgenic mycotoxins. This hazardous component may cause mini seizures and muscle tremors that are incredibly harmful to dogs. Veterinary Kirsten Waratuke from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in Illinois says this harmful nut component comes from metabolite-producing fungi. The most prevalent mycotoxin known to affect dogs is called “Penitrem A,” often found in a variety of nuts, meats, dairy products, and processed food.
Furthermore, nuts like macadamia nuts and black walnuts also contain harmful toxins that may cause seizures and tremors, and must not in any circumstance be fed to dogs. Macadamia nuts are also associated with a non-lethal syndrome that causes vomiting, weakness, muscle tremors, fever, and depression. In this aspect, dogs are the only species recorded to have such reactions to the said nut variety. And in addition to the nuts previously enumerated, Japanese and English walnuts are also not advisable for dogs.
All tree nuts, except for Japanese walnuts, all contain tremorgenic mycotoxins identified to be the common cause of neurological distress in dogs.
Our dogs’ stomachs are more sensitive than we think. Although they may love the taste of certain human foods we give them, certain items may not be advisable. Nuts can also cause stomach upset and intestinal obstruction, as they may be difficult to digest. Juglone, a toxin found in black walnuts, is a common culprit behind these gastrointestinal problems.
In the case of almonds, although non-toxic to dogs, it still poses potential health risks such as airway and digestive obstructions, pancreatitis, indigestion, and water retention. The latter reaction results from the high salt content of pre-packaged almonds (and other nuts) and is extremely dangerous for any dog diagnosed with heart disease.
Is Peanut Butter Safe for my Dog
In contrast to the effects of tree nuts, it is safe for dogs to eat peanuts, especially in peanut butter form. We often see this depicted on television, but do not be fooled easily. It is vital to remember that not all peanut butter brands are safe for dog consumption, as some are high in fat. Foods with high-fat content are also extremely harmful to dogs, that when given in large and frequent amounts, may cause pancreatitis or inflammation of the liver. The said condition is a fatal disease that must be treated aggressively by a vet.
Signs to look out for include lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. As a general rule of thumb, refrain from feeding your dog anything high in fat to avoid pancreatitis flair up.
Although it must be reiterated that peanut butter is safe for dogs, it is still crucial to avoid brands that use an ingredient called Xylitol. Consumption of the said chemical can cause a fatal drop in a dog’s blood sugar level. This condition called hypoglycemia is a chronic condition that destroys liver cells in dogs. Before letting your dogs eat that tasty peanut butter in your pantry, make sure to check the ingredients listed on these commercially produced products. Xylitol is also often labeled as “sugar alcohol” or “natural sweetener.”
Take note that Xylitol may also cause seizures in your dog. Canines that have ingested the said toxin may also exhibit signs of disorientation, panting, difficulty in walking, and may even collapse.
Can my Dogs Eat Peanut Shells
Although peanut butter treats are safe for dogs, actual peanuts that still have their shells on may be dangerous to your canines. Just like chicken bones, peanut shells, when digested, turn into tiny bits with jagged and sharped edges that may harm or damage the dog’s esophagus and intestines.
As a safety precaution, do not leave peanut shells lying around coffee tables or places your dogs can easily access. Properly dispose of them immediately so that your dogs won’t get to them. As you know, dogs eat just about anything, and these pesky peanut shells are no exception, especially when they’re hungry, curious, and you’re not looking.
What Nuts Can I Feed my Dogs
Apart from Xylitol-free peanut butter, it is safe for your dog to munch on unsalted and unflavored peanuts that are either raw or roasted. However, due to the risks posed by legumes in general, peanuts should not be given to your dog regularly. The key here is moderation. Allow your dog to enjoy peanuts and peanut butter as rewards. It is still best to give your dog high-quality pet food.