We all know that pecans are a tasty and healthy treat for humans, but can dogs eat pecans? The answer to this question is no, they really shouldn’t.
Now, don’t freak out if you dropped a single pecan on the floor and your swift dog happened to snatch it up before you had a chance to get it.
While it’s true dogs shouldn’t eat pecans, one or two are not going to hurt him.
On the other hand, if you’re sitting there with a bowl of pecans on your lap and are eager to share them with your four-legged friend, don’t.
Pecans are really not good for dogs. Don’t believe us? Keep reading, because we are going to explain why.
Can Dogs Eat Pecans?
We love our canine counterparts and want to share all the goodies of life with them. This includes everything from dinners to desserts, fruits and veggies, and sometimes nuts.
But can dogs eat pecans? And while we’re at it, can dogs eat butter pecan ice cream or pecan pie?
No. Dogs shouldn’t eat pecans, so they certainly shouldn’t eat any foods with pecans in them, such as butter pecan ice cream or pecan pie.
For one, pecans are toxic to dogs and can cause a number of problems. In worst case scenarios, over-consumption of pecans can prove fatal.
That’s why it’s so important to research any human food we are tempted to feed our dogs before we actually go ahead and feed it to them.
Remember, just because it’s good for us doesn’t mean it’s good for them.
Although it’s easy to get lost in that human-like gaze and feel like we are way more alike than we are different, it’s just not the case.
The truth is dog owners are different from our canine counterparts, and one of those differences is our abilities to handle certain foods. So now that we know that pecans and dogs don’t mix, let’s find out why.
What Are Pecans and Why Are Pecans Bad for Dogs?
Pecans grow from nut trees in shells that are so hard people usually need some sort of tool to break them open.
In fact, the word pecan is actually a Native American word that translates roughly to “nuts requiring a stone to crack.”
Indigenous to North America and Mexico, pecans are a popular nut worldwide and are included in a number of family-favorite recipes such as the ones mentioned above.
Pecans are also full of nutrients—for humans.
A source of healthy, unsaturated fats, pecans contain over 19 vitamins and minerals and have even been said to lower cholesterol.
But if pecans are so good for humans, why are they so bad for dogs?
Warning for dog owners!
Along with all the goodness packed into pecans, there are also cons.
Pecans contain a toxin called juglone.
If they get moldy, pecans can cause seizures and neurological symptoms due to their production of tremorgenic mycotoxins.
More dangerous still, pecans are tree nuts that contain a natural poison called aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is produced from a mold that grows on pecans known as aspergillus.
And while pecans are harmless to humans (who don’t have nut allergies) and even beneficial, our beloved dogs’ sensitive systems are not built to handle the toxins and poisons that come with pecans.
While one or two pecans here and there won’t kill your dog, a handful of pecans might, so we would really rather you stay away from them all together.
How Can Pecans Harm My Dog?
Are pecans toxic to dogs? Are pecans poisonous to dogs? Are dogs allergic to pecans?
Pecan allergy or not, dogs should steer clear of pecans.
Pecans can cause gastric intestinal upset or obstruction in your dog’s digestive system.
Both of these issues are serious and painful and, in some severe cases, may cause death.
So what do you do if you think your dog has accidentally gotten into a bag of pecans? How do you know if he’s eaten a bunch? What symptoms should you look out for?
Keep reading and take note.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has Eaten Too Many Pecans?
If your dog ate pecans, try not to panic. The most important question is how many did he eat?
If your dog has gotten into your stash of pecans, look out for vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, this will be the worst of it. After a few hours, he should be back to himself.
However, in more serious cases, the vomiting and diarrhea will be intense, and you’ll need to get your dog to a vet.
If your dog is throwing up, urinating or defecating at a rate that seems alarming, he is likely going to need treatment, including IV fluids, medication, blood work and monitoring.
Of course, if you see blood in your dog’s vomit or stool, take him to the vet immediately. This could be a sign that his liver has been affected.
Signs to look out for
Other signs that the liver has been affected is yellowing of the eyes and gums and urine turning a red or brown color.
This means your dog has become jaundiced and has also likely become anemic.
You should also pay attention to your dog when he is trying to urinate.
Is he having trouble? Bladder stones are a common symptom of Aflatoxin poisoning as a result of eating too many pecans.
If your dog cannot or will not urinate, he may have bladder stones.
Unfortunately, bladder stones can be very painful and require surgical removal, so don’t ignore this symptom and take your dog to the vet immediately.
What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Pecans?
Aflatoxin poisoning results when your dog has eaten too many pecans or other tree nuts that contain this toxin.
It can be fatal to your dog if not addressed immediately.
Here is a quick list of symptoms to watch out for:
- Severe vomiting
- Severe diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Yellowing eyes or gums
- Brown or reddish urine
- Blood in vomit or stool (Stool will be very black)
- Difficulty urinating
If you believe your dog has eaten pecans and is exhibiting any of the above signs, we recommend you take him to the vet immediately.
What Nuts Are Safe for My Dog to Eat?
Just because dogs can’t eat pecans doesn’t mean all nuts are toxic to him.
While nuts are not a necessary staple in a dog’s diet, there are still some dog-safe nuts, including:
- Peanuts and peanut butter
- Cooked or roasted cashews
In fact, my dog loves peanuts and I often catch her stealing from the bag I keep on the back deck for the squirrel feeder.
If it is your dog’s first time eating a peanut, watch him closely to make sure he doesn’t have any adverse reactions.
Because nuts are not needed in our dogs’ diet, it is best to give them to dogs in moderation.
While cooked or roasted cashews are safe for dogs to eat in moderation, raw cashews contain dangerous toxins that can be harmful to them.
Luckily, this toxin can be eradicated through the cooking process, making them safe for dogs to eat.
However, too many cooked cashews could cause an upset stomach in dogs.
For this reason, we recommend only giving your dog cooked or roasted cashews once in a while as an occasional treat. Even then don’t offer him more than one or two.
Larger dogs typically do fine with hazelnuts, but we don’t recommend them for smaller dogs.
Smaller dogs seem to have a harder time with hazelnuts and may not be able to chew them properly, causing choking hazards and the risk of intestinal blockage.
How Can I Further Maintain a Healthy Diet for My Dog?
As dog lovers, it’s important that we are feeding our dogs healthy foods that will keep them feeling their best. Of course, a high-quality dog food is always recommended to keep your dog in ship shape, and treats should be given in moderation.
And when it comes to human foods for dogs, just keep in mind that the best rule to follow is if you aren’t sure, do your research, just like you did in this case.
References and Further Reading:
Alenza, D.P., et al., 2008, “Relation Between Habitual Diet and Canine Mammary Tumors in A Case-Control Study,” Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Bland, I.M., et al., 2009, “Dog Obesity: Owner Attitudes and Behaviour,” Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Volume 92, Issue 4, pgs. 333-340
Bland, I. and Hill, J., 2011, “Tackling Dog Obesity by Tackling Owner Attitudes,” Animal Science Reviews
Heinbecker, P., White H.L., and Rolf, D., 1944, “Experimental Obesity In The Dog,” American Journal of Physiology-Legacy, Volume 141, No. 4
Mellanby, E., 1946, “Diet and Canine Hysteria: Experimental Production,” British Medical Journal