dog licking spoon

If we left it to our hungry hounds, dogs would assume most, if not all of our foods are meant for them. This is why thousands of pets are poisoned each year due to ingestion of a toxic food item, like chocolate

Of course there are plenty of human foods that are safe for dogs, and fun to give them in small amounts. Peanut butter is an option that most Fidos love, but you don’t have to stop there! The team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is here to explain what nuts and butters you can safely give your dog and what to avoid.

Nuts and Nut Butters for Dogs

While your dog can eat peanuts, not all nuts are safe or healthy for them. There are some excellent choices in nuts that your dog can enjoy, but only in moderation. Like most people foods and treats, giving your pet too many calories can set them up for obesity and pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation of the pancreas

Here are a few healthier options in nuts.

  1. Peanuts–Whether raw, roasted, or in butter form, peanuts are delicious and safe snacks for your pooch. Peanut butter is one of the top choices for homemade snacks and are often used in Kongs and other fillable toys. Just remember to avoid salted or anything added to the peanuts that can harm your pet, such as sweeteners and artificial flavoring.
  2. Cashews–These are a little more fattening, so be mindful of adjusting how much you give to avoid stomach ache or weight gain. Avoid raw cashews as they contain a toxic chemical. Opt for butters or roasted cashews as a “once in a while” treat.
  3. Hazelnuts – Dogs can enjoy a few hazelnuts, but they are more at risk of choking if you give them whole. Try offering a dab of hazelnut butter (without chocolate). 

When Good Nuts Go Bad

Some of the following nuts may not be toxic, but they can have side-effects for dogs. Avoid these popular nuts:

  1. Almonds  – Almonds aren’t toxic, but they do pose a greater choking danger and can cause gastrointestinal upset as they’re harder for dogs to digest.
  2. Macadamia – Macadamia nuts have a higher fat content and can cause stomach ache, diarrhea, and pose a risk of pancreatitis. These nuts also contain a toxin also found in grapes and raisins which can cause neurological problems, among other health issues.
  3. Walnuts – Found in most mixed and trail nut options, walnuts contain tremorgenic mycotoxins, which are poisonous to dogs.
  4. Pecans and Hickory Nuts – These nuts contain the toxin juglone, which causes lameness in horses. While it doesn’t affect dogs as severely, it creates gastrointestinal upset and should be avoided. Bigger nuts like hickory nuts can also cause your pet to choke.
  5. Pistachios – This fatty nut contributes to weight gain and the risk of pancreatitis.

A Word About Xylitol

Xylitol is found in several products, from pastries to nut butters, toothpaste to chewing gum. It’s a chemically derived sweetener used in many sugar-free items. Unfortunately, it is also found in nut butters. This toxin is very poisonous to dogs and causes kidney failure, among other serious symptoms. Look at the label of any nut butter to ensure Xylitol is not found in the list of ingredients.

If you would like more information on safe nuts and nut butters for dogs, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us. No ifs, and, or nuts about it, we are here for you!