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Can Dogs Eat Pecans? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Safety Guide

Written by: Elizabeth Gray

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

Can Dogs Eat Pecans

Can Dogs Eat Pecans? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Safety Guide

VET APPROVED

Dr. Maja Platisa Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

If your dog is a dedicated beggar, it can be hard to resist sharing your food with them. Pecans and other nuts are popular snacks for humans, but are they okay for dogs? While these nuts aren’t classed as toxic according to the ASPCA, dogs shouldn’t eat pecans because they aren’t safe or healthy.

Pecans pose several risks to your dog; we’ll tell you all about them in this article. We’ll also suggest some safe and appropriate foods that make better snacks for your pup. However, before offering your dog any human food, it’s important to consult with your vet, particularly if your dog has any underlying health issues, such as diabetes, pancreatitis or gastrointestinal disease.

The Problem With Pecans

While pecans contain some essential nutrients, including protein, the risks of feeding them to your dog outweigh the benefits. Here are some of the problems with pecans.

Choking Hazard

Because of their size, pecans can be a choking hazard for your dog. Dogs generally don’t chew food very well and may try to swallow the nuts whole. Some pups “inhale” their food and could choke on a pecan.

pecan nuts
Image Credit: baileynorwood, Pixabay

Toxic Mold

Pecans themselves are not toxic to dogs. However, certain nuts—especially pecans and walnuts—become moldy more easily than others. The mold may not be obvious to you when looking at the nut. Some types of molds produce mycotoxins that are dangerous to dogs. Any type of spoiled, rotting food your dog finds in the trash, or a compost pile may contain these toxins.

Mycotoxins can cause neurological signs like tremors, seizures, and trouble walking. These signs are potentially life threatening as well. Other mycotoxins cause digestive signs like vomiting and diarrhea.

Intestinal Blockage

If your dog eats several pecans, depending on their body size, these could cause a blockage in your dog’s stomach or intestines. This issue is especially likely if your dog happens to swallow a pecan still in the shell. Intestinal blockages typically require surgery, so it could be a costly snack for your dog in more ways than one!

Sick mastiff dog sitting on table in a vet clinic
Image By: UfaBizPhoto, Shutterstock

High in Fat and Calories

Pecans and other nuts are calorie-dense and high in fat. For humans, they can be a good source of healthy fats. However, excess fat from eating pecans may also lead to a stomach upset in some dogs. Obesity is a common problem if dogs are regularly fed high-calorie snacks, have a predisposition for obesity, or do not exercise enough.

To stay healthy and have an appropriate weight based on their age and lifestyle, dogs should eat only the recommended number of calories per day, including treats and their regular diet. Most of those calories should come from their food, so it’s best to stick to low-calorie treat options, and pecans aren’t one of them. We’ll give you some better choices later in this article.

Risk of Pancreatitis

For some dogs, eating high-fat foods like pecans can predispose them to a painful and dangerous medical condition called pancreatitis. In this condition, the pancreas, which normally produces digestive enzymes, becomes inflamed. Digestive enzymes are activated inadequately within the pancreas itself, causing damage and pain, impacting other organs.

Some breeds, such as Schnauzers, are more prone to developing pancreatitis, but it can occur in any dog. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, belly pain, and fever. Your vet will need to diagnose and treat this condition.

Severe or untreated pancreatitis can be fatal. After recovery, some dogs develop a chronic form of pancreatitis that requires a strict, low-fat diet and long-term monitoring.

Oftentimes, the exact cause of pancreatitis cannot be identified, but we know that some factors can increase the risk of obesity and underlying health issues, such as diabetes. Feeding high-fat pecans is not worth the risk to your dog.

a bag of pecan nuts
Image By: pictavio, Pixabay

Juglone

Many pet websites and blogs mention juglone as the culprit for the potential harmful effects of pecan nuts in dogs. However, we cannot find any scientific evidence to back this claim, but we wanted to touch on it in more detail.

Juglone is a compound present in considerable amounts in all green and growing parts of the trees and unripe hulls of the nuts, such as black walnuts and pecans, while levels in kernels are generally very low or absent. Unlike pecan nuts, the black walnut is considered toxic to dogs. However, the mechanism of action by which black walnut wood or nuts affect dogs is not known.

Still, even this may be a good enough reason to be cautious and keep pecans away from your dog, until science can give us more information on their safety.

Safe Human Food Options to Feed Your Dog

Treats should generally make up only about 5-10% or less of your dog’s daily calories. The majority should come from nutritionally balanced dog food. If you feed your dog treats, avoid the pecans, and try one of these safer options, but only after you have consulted with your vet, as some of these may not be appropriate for your dog based on their health and age.

a basket of carrots
Image By: jackmac34, Pixabay
  • Vegetables, in moderate amounts and only occasionally, that are chopped up into bite-sized pieces to reduce the risk of choking, such as carrots, green beans, zucchini, and cucumber
  • Fruit, also in moderation, such as blueberries, apples (without the seeds and core), bananas, and melons
  • Cooked, lean meats (without bones)
  • Cooked, low-mercury fish (without bones)
  • Whole grains, such as cooked white rice and oatmeal

Dogs suffering from diabetes should not be eating fruits or veggies, as they are rich in carbs. Consult with your vet about the appropriate treats for your pooch based on their health, age, and lifestyle.

In addition to high-fat foods like pecans, never feed your dog the following toxic food items:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions, garlic, shallots, and chives
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate

Final Thoughts

Pecans aren’t toxic to dogs but they can contain dangerous mold and are not the healthiest snack choice. Avoid feeding these nuts to your pup, and before offering any human food, check with your veterinarian to ensure it’s safe and appropriate. Remember, even non-toxic human foods can upset your dog’s stomach, so proceed with caution and call your veterinarian if you are concerned.


Featured Image Credit: matthewsjackie, Pixabay

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