Can Dogs Eat Walnuts? Here's Everything You Need to Know

In this post, we’ll take a look at whether small amounts of walnuts are good for your pet, as well as how moldy walnuts can harm them.

Table of Contents:

  • Can dogs eat walnuts?
  • Walnut poisoning in dogs
  • Are shelled walnuts safer for dogs?
  • What about washed walnuts?
  • Can dogs eat cooked walnuts?
  • Are other nuts safe for dogs?
  • Key Takeaways

Pro Tip: Being natural scavengers, dogs can sniff out moldy walnuts and end up with mycotoxin poisoning. Some pet insurance policies cover toxicity through ingestion, so make sure to enroll your pet on time and give yourself peace of mind.

Can dogs eat walnuts?

As you might already know, walnuts are** **rich in fatty acids, as well as a number of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, the dangers of eating walnuts outweigh any health benefits walnuts might have for dogs.

Walnuts are high in fats that can upset your dog’s stomach and cause diarrhea or vomiting. In more serious cases, consuming walnuts can lead to the development of more serious conditions like gastroenteritis or pancreatitis. Not to mention, walnuts present a potential choking hazard and might cause intestinal blockage.

Finally, the mold that grows on walnuts can be highly toxic to dogs. Moldy walnuts can contain fungi that produce tremorgenic mycotoxins. If your pet is exposed to them, he or she can have seizures and other neurological complications.

For these reasons, it’s better to stay on the safe side and not offer walnuts to your canine companion. If you still insist on feeding these nuts to your pet, be sure to consult your vet first.

Are walnut shells bad for dogs

Walnut poisoning in dogs

Apart from the risk of stomach upset and intestinal obstruction, walnuts can be toxic to dogs. The high moisture content of walnuts makes them quite susceptible to developing mold and fungi. Some fungi that grow on walnuts produce toxins called mycotoxins, which can be carcinogenic or cause tremors and seizures.

Dogs might show the following symptoms after ingesting walnuts:

  • Panting
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Elevated body temperature (hyperthermia)
  • Weakness
  • Excess salivation
  • Increased heart rates
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle tremors
  • Incoordination
  • Seizures
  • Liver damage
  • Death

You should also still monitor for signs that your dog is developing an allergic reaction, which can include facial swelling, hives, trouble breathing and vomiting. If your dog has eaten a food that contains walnuts as an ingredient, the risk may be lower compared to eating a whole walnut.

In general, you should always check with your vet whether a certain food you want to introduce to your pup’s diet is safe.

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Diagnosis and treatment of walnut poisoning in dogs

If you’ve seen your dog eat walnuts and they are showing the symptoms listed above, make sure to call your veterinarian. The vet will be able to confirm the diagnosis based on the symptoms and plant identification. If your pup is vomiting, the vet might also analyze the vomitus in order to reach a final diagnosis. A urinalysis and bloodwork might indicate if the kidneys or liver have been affected.

If mycotoxin poisoning is confirmed, your dog will need to be hospitalized. Depending on how long it has been since ingestion and how severe clinical signs are, your veterinarian may elect to induce vomiting to remove any remaining nuts and give activated charcoal to help absorb the toxins in their digestive system.

If your pet has severe neurologic changes, these procedures may not be safe, so it is always best to consult a veterinarian. Do not try to induce vomiting or treat your pet at home. In cases of large ingestions, gastric lavage may be performed to empty the stomach.

IV fluids are administered to flush the toxin from the system, help protect the liver and kidneys, maintain hydration in vomiting patients, and help cool the body.. The vet may use additional medications to help control vomiting, tremors, seizures, and other clinical signs. In severe cases, some pets need to be sedated or fully anesthetized to control clinical signs.

Pro Tip: Walnut poisoning is one of the most common claims for toxic ingestion. The average cost to treat walnut poisoning is $420. Compare pet insurance plans to make sure you can always afford to give your dog the best treatment for poisoning, along with many other medical conditions.

Recovery of walnut poisoning in dogs

It usually takes two to five days for dogs to recover from walnut poisoning after treatment, and once home, they will require additional care. The poisoning might leave your pet depressed and fatigued, so make sure they get enough rest.

In addition, watch for any returning symptoms, and be sure to get in touch with your vet if you notice anything unusual or if you’re concerned about your dog’s recovery rate. A follow-up appointment will be needed so that the vet can assess your pet’s health and organ function.

Are walnut shells bad for dogs

Are shelled walnuts safe for dogs?

No, walnuts can become infected with toxic fungi even in the shell. In fact, shelled walnuts are at a higher risk of fungal contamination, because they have zero protection.

The only reason why shelled walnuts are sometimes considered safer for dogs is that the choking hazard is reduced. Walnut shells can get stuck in the pet’s intestines and cause a blockage, especially in small breed dogs.

If your canine companion eats walnut shells, be sure to call your vet immediately.

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What about washed walnuts?

Washing the walnuts might remove some of the fungal growth. One option is to wash them with vinegar. You could also use boiling water and then let the walnuts dry. However, none of these methods has proven to be 100% effective.

Although you may be able to remove most of the visible mold, fungi can still grow below the surface and the mycotoxins they create are not visible to the naked eye.

Can dogs eat cooked walnuts?

When foods are contaminated with bacteria, cooking usually kills the bacteria and makes the food safe to consume. However, cooking won’t kill mycotoxins, because they’re a chemical by-product, not living organisms.

Are other nuts safe for dogs?

Pet parents should be extra careful when feeding nuts to dogs. In general, the only ones that are considered to be less harmful are cashews, almonds, and peanuts. These nuts contain nutrients such as protein but still carry a risk of causing intestinal blockages or stomach upset.

Pet parents should also avoid feeding any nuts that contain salt or artificial flavorings and should stay away from macadamia nuts as they are particularly toxic for canines.

— Update: 14-03-2023 — found an additional article Can Dogs Eat Walnuts? Everything You Need to Know from the website for the keyword are walnut shells bad for dogs.

Yes and no. While some kinds of walnuts are safe for dogs to eat they are not the best choice for a pup treat.

There’s no need to freak out if your dog eats a walnut you’ve dropped on the floor, says Dr. Ashley Hughes, DVC, but feeding them as a treat on a regular basis is not advised. The dangers for dogs of eating walnuts includes choking hazards, intestinal obstruction and upset stomach to more serious conditions like pancreatitis and illness from black mold that can occur on walnuts and can be toxic to dogs. Why risk any of that, right?

Are Walnuts Safe for Dogs to Eat

As we mentioned if your dog snags a walnut the risk is minimal, but the reason you should not offer walnuts to your dog as a regular treat is these nuts are susceptible to a type of black mold that can prove to be extremely toxic to dogs.

Some fungi that can grow on walnuts produce metabolites called mycotoxins, which are considered to be carcinogenic, while others produce tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can cause tremors and seizures.

While the bags of high-quality, processed walnuts you purchase at a grocery store are much less likely to be affected by black mold than walnuts gleaned from backyard trees, this mold can grow on any walnut at any stage during the growth and processing cycle including shelled or unshelled.

You should never feed your dog walnuts gathered from backyard trees. While it is possible to wash and dry nuts to try and remove any potential mold, the better move is to just not feed your dog walnuts.

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Another walnut to NEVER feed your dog is the black walnut which is particularly toxic to canines. Native to Northeastern U.S. and Canada, black walnuts are toxic to horses and dogs, but non-toxic to cats. And if you have a walnut tree in your neighborhood, know that dogs ingesting old walnuts off the ground have the potential to develop tremors and seizures from walnut hulls that are moldy and contain Penitrem A, a mycotoxin, ingestion of which can result in severe generalized tremors, opsoclonus and seizures in dogs.

While still on the subject of dogs and edible nuts, it’s important to add Macadamia nuts to the list of no-go. Consumption of Macadamia nuts can cause hind end weakness, tremors, lethargy and hyperthermia in dogs.

What if My Dog Eats Walnuts?

  1. Store bought walnuts are less likely to contain black mold than nuts gathered outdoors, so if your dog eats a stray walnut from a bag you purchased at a grocery store you’re probably fine (but no more!).
  2. If your dog eats a moldy walnut or a black walnut picked up in a backyard or other outdoor setting watch for reactions including vomiting, tremors and seizures. If you see any signs of these, call your vet immediately because these can be fatal if left untreated.
  3. Walnuts are one of the larger nuts and difficult to digest. Smaller dogs in particular are more susceptible to intestinal blockages which could be fatal if not addressed right away. If your dog eats a walnut still in its shell, there is a great possibility of a blockage. Keep nuts well out of reach of curious pups!
  4. One of the reasons walnuts are good for us humans is that they are full of healthy fats like omega oils (as well as protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals). Unfortunately, for dogs, high quantities of fats can upset stomachs and potentially bring on nasty side effects like vomiting and diarrhea. “Nuts in general have a high fat content, so even if they are not toxic, they can still cause an upset stomach in some dogs,” says Hughes.

In more serious cases, consuming high fat foods like walnuts can lead to the development of more serious conditions like pancreatitis or gastroenteritis. Salted or seasoned nuts (such as “smoked”) can make your dog feel ill even in small quantities.

While small amounts of some nuts such as peanuts, cashews and almonds ground into nut butters are generally safe for dogs with no underlying health or weight issues to eat, vets recommend you skip nuts and replace them with other kind of dog treats. Remember, “in general, only 10 percent of dogs diet should come from treats,” says Hughes. “And most dogs are as happy to eat a dog treats as a walnut!”


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