Walnuts are an extremely healthy and delicious snack for people and are often used in tasty recipes. If you like to bake cookies or to eat walnuts while watching TV, you’re probably wondering whether this nutritious nut is safe for your pooch to eat.
So, can dogs eat walnuts? Dogs can eat a few walnuts once in a while as long as they aren’t moldy. Moldy walnuts can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause vomiting, tremors, and seizures in dogs. While walnuts aren’t technically toxic to dogs, it’s best to err on the side of caution and don’t feed them to your dog.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about walnuts and dogs! Keep on reading to learn whether it’s safe for dogs to eat walnuts.
Is it Safe for Dogs to Eat Walnuts?
Most fresh walnuts are safe for dogs to eat in small amounts. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t worry too much if your dog happens to steal a few walnuts that fell on the kitchen floor.
However, dogs shouldn’t eat black walnut and moldy walnut since they are highly toxic and extremely dangerous, even in small quantities.
On their own, English walnuts are completely safe for dogs to eat. The biggest issue is that all types of walnuts can easily become moldy and as such, dangerous for dogs to eat.
Are Walnuts Good for Dogs?
Walnuts, like some other types of nuts, contain essential nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy and thrive. They are chock full of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals.
The downside is that walnuts have an extremely high-fat content that can be problematic for dogs and lead to obesity and pancreatitis. So, although walnuts contain many beneficial nutrients they are so high in fats that the risks of eating them are far greater than any potential advantages.
Benefits of Walnuts for Dogs
Fresh English walnuts are packed with essential nutrients and are proven to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels in people. However, since dogs can eat only a few walnuts once in a while, it’s unlikely that your pooch will experience all the health benefits of walnuts.
Potential benefits of walnuts for dogs are:
1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Walnuts have significantly higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids than any other type of nut. Omega 3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial for dogs and besides having anti-inflammatory properties they can help with wound healing.
Furthermore, omega 3s also support skin and hair health in dogs and improve mobility by supporting joint health (source).
Walnuts are chock full of antioxidants, including melatonin, vitamin E, and polyphenols that can prevent oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Eating walnuts and other antioxidant-rich foods can help lower oxidative stress within your dog’s body and reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic conditions.
Fresh walnuts are an excellent source of magnesium, an essential mineral that is involved in many functions within your dog’s body.
Magnesium is important for organ health, it is necessary for muscle regeneration, and also helps the body to absorb minerals, link potassium, zinc, and calcium (source).
Risks of Walnuts for Dogs
While walnuts are teeming with essential nutrients that are good for dogs, they can also be harmful to your dog. When it comes to dogs and walnuts, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid including these nuts into your dog’s diet.
The biggest side effects of walnuts for dogs are:
1. Choking Hazard
Due to their shape and hard texture walnuts pose a serious choking hazard to dogs, especially small breeds. And if your dog likes to gobble down food without chewing first, there is a far greater risk of choking on a walnut.
If you suspect that a walnut got stuck inside your dog’s throat or if your dog is drooling, pawing at its mouth, making choking sounds, or gaging, call your vet immediately (source)!
2. Digestive Problems
Due to their high fat count walnuts can cause serious gastrointestinal problems and upset stomachs in dogs. Furthermore, walnuts are very hard to digest and if eaten in large amounts can cause an intestinal blockage which may require surgery.
3. Mold Contamination
Like other types of nuts, walnuts can easily become moldy and contain fungi that produce tremorgenic mycotoxins. Eating moldy nuts can cause vomiting, tremors, seizures, and other serious neurological problems in dogs.
Any walnut variety can become moldy, and as such, dangerous for dogs to eat. Black walnuts, in particular, are highly toxic to dogs and can cause weakness, paralysis, and even death.
If there is a chance that your dog ingested black walnuts, call your veterinarian right away! To prevent the worst-case scenario, steer clear of any black walnut trees while you’re taking your pooch for a walk.
How Many Walnuts Can a Dog Eat?
It’s highly unlikely that your dog will become sick if it happens to steal a walnut. But, to be on the safe side, you shouldn’t let your dog eat nuts, walnuts included, without consulting your vet first.
While some human foods can be beneficial for your dog’s overall health, chances are that your vet will advise you against feeding walnuts to your dog.
At the end of the day, there are too many side effects of walnuts for dogs that your pooch might be better off not eating any in the first place. But if you decide to give your dog walnuts make sure that it’s less than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake.
How to Feed Walnuts to Your Dog?
If you happen to feed walnuts to your dog, check them for mold and make sure that they are fresh.
Some dog owners believe that cooking unshelled walnuts may help get rid of any mold in them, but that’s not really the case. So if you do decide to feed walnuts to your dog that’s the risk you’ll have to take.
Ways to feed walnuts to dogs are:
- Offer a fresh walnut as a treat
- Cut a walnut into small pieces and mix it with your dog’s food
While walnuts are technically safe for dogs to eat, you shouldn’t feed them to your pooch. Full of essential nutrients, walnuts can easily become moldy and extremely toxic to dogs.
It is highly unlikely that your dog will become seriously ill if they happen to eat a single walnut. But to be on the safe side, keep all walnuts out of your dog’s reach and avoid walking your pooch near any black walnut trees.