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 them with your pooch—pecans are considered to be toxic to dogs, due to their ability to grow mold and potentially 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 are packed with at least 19 vitamins and minerals.
If your dog happens to snatch a pecan that has accidentally fallen to 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 may contain a toxin known as juglone, which can be harmful to your pet (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. Pecans 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 that include seizures and other neurological issues. While pecans are harmless to humans who don't have a nut allergy, the GI systems of dogs aren't strong enough to withstand the toxins that may be lurking on the outside of these nuts.
What Happens If Your Dog Eats Pecans
If your dog accidentally ingests either a moldy pecan or has managed to steal a large amount of these nuts (think a handful or more), immediate symptoms to look 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 and fluids, and perform blood work. Prepackaged processed pecans can also contain additives, such as salt or other seasonings that can be harmful to our pets and can adversely affect the liver and kidneys. If you sense that your dog is in any discomfort or behaving abnormally following the ingestion of pecans, you should seek immediate veterinary attention.
Nuts like pecans 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.
Like many nuts, pecans can be 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.
Are There any Health Benefits of Pecans for Dogs?
Nuts like pecans are jam-packed with healthy fats and protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and pecans can lower levels of bad cholesterol. They're rich in antioxidants and also possess a naturally sweet flavor that most dogs would go nuts for.
But unfortunately, as 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 should not partake of these nuts.
Are Other Nuts Safe for Dogs?
Veterinarians generally don't recommend any nuts for dogs. Some may be considered less harmful, such as peanuts, cashews, and almonds. However, although these nuts all contain nutrients like fiber and protein, they can be choking hazards, 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. If your pet ingests more than a few accidentally, seek immediate veterinary advice.
Macadamia Nut Toxicosis in Dogs. Merck Veterinary Manual.