While nuts are a nutritious, protein-rich snack for humans, these legumes aren't always the most Fido-Friendly treats. When it comes to pecans, it's best not to share with your pooch—pecans are considered to be toxic to dogs due to their ability to grow mold and lead to GI distress, intestinal blockages, or other serious symptoms like seizures.
Are Pecans Safe for Dogs?
Indigenous to North America and Mexico, pecans are often found in pies, cakes, muffins, and other delectable treats. They also make a satisfying snack on their own because they're rich in healthy, unsaturated fats and packed with at least 19 vitamins and minerals.
If your dog happens to snatch a pecan that accidentally fell on the floor, it's likely nothing to worry about. But pecans are definitely not safe to offer your dog as a treat because these particular nuts contain a toxin known as juglone, which can be harmful to them (juglone is also severely toxic to horses).
Like walnuts, pecans are also susceptible to mold, which contains tremorgenic mycotoxins that can lead to tremors, seizures, and even damage a dog’s neurological system. They are a type of tree nut that can also contain another natural poison, aflatoxin, which is produced from a mold that grows on pecans known as aspergillus.
If your dog ingests a pecan that has become moldy (which can happen easily and quickly on the shells), they can experience symptoms including seizures and other neurological issues. While pecans are harmless to any human who doesn't have a nut allergy, dogs' GI systems aren't strong enough to withstand the toxins that may be lurking on the outside of one of these nuts.
What Happens If Your Dog Eats Pecans
If your dog does accidentally ingest either a moldy pecan or has managed to steal a large amount of these nuts (think a handful or more), immediate symptoms to watch out for include vomiting and diarrhea. Sometimes these symptoms will only last a few hours—but in more serious cases, the vomiting and diarrhea will become intense, and you’ll need to take your dog to the vet immediately, as their condition can become fatal if left untreated.
If your dog is vomiting, urinating, or defecating at an increased rate, your veterinarian will likely have to administer medication, fluids, and perform blood work. Additionally, the high sodium content in pecans can be very harmful for dogs, and can lead to failure of their liver and the development of stones in the bladder. Blood in your dog's stool is a symptom that their liver has been impacted by the consumption of pecans, and will also require immediate veterinary attention.
Nuts like pecans are are high in fat, and thus can upset your pooch's stomach and lead to common GI symptoms like diarrhea. Consuming pecans and other nuts can also lead to the development of serious conditions like pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, or gastroenteritis, which occurs when the dog's stomach or intestines becomes inflamed. Pre-packaged pecans can also contain additives like salt or other seasonings that can be harmful to our pets.
Like many nuts, pecans are also difficult for dogs to digest, and their size and texture can cause serious (and even life-threatening) intestinal blockages, particularly in smaller breeds. These blockages often require surgery and could be fatal.
Are There Health Benefits of Pecans for Dogs?
Nuts like pecans are jam-packed with healthy fats and protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals, and pecans are proven to lower bad cholesterol. They're rich in antioxidants and also possess a naturally sweet flavor that most dogs would go nuts for.
But unfortunately, since your dog would have to eat a significant amount of pecans in order to reap any of the health benefits that humans can—and doing so would put them at risk for serious health conditions—our canine counterparts simply can't safely take of the health benefits of nuts.
Are Other Nuts Safe for Dogs?
Veterinarians generally don't recommend any nuts for dogs, but peanuts, cashews, and almonds are considered to be less harmful. Though these nuts all contain nutrients like fiber and protein, they carry the risk of causing stomach distress or intestinal blockages, and they are often packaged with potentially harmful additives like salt and other flavorings.
You should never offer your dog macadamia nuts or hickory nuts, as they are both considered toxic for dogs. Black walnuts and pistachio nuts are also known to be particularly harmful for our pets.