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Can My Pet Eat Nuts?

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Whether a container of mixed nuts accidentally spilled on the floor or if you’ve ever been tempted by those puppy eyes, many pet owners have wondered: Can my pet eat nuts? Are nuts poisonous to my pet? 

Well, in general, nuts are too fatty (and in most cases, too salty) for our pets to consume. Keep in mind that for a 50-pound dog, one-quarter cup of peanuts represents an entire day’s worth of calories. In addition, if a dog eats a snack that is high in fat, it may trigger a bout of pancreatitis, a disease that can require long periods of hospitalization and can even be life-threatening. Cats can also get pancreatitis; however, the causes of it in felines are less clear. However, the dangers of a high fat or high sodium diet to a cat are well-known. For the excess calories and high salt alone, it’s best to entirely exclude snacking nuts from your pets’ diet.

Furthermore, even if you have a pet such as a rodent or bird that may have nuts or seeds as part of its regular diet, these pets shouldn’t eat nuts that are salted, seasoned, cooked, or flavored. Raw, plain nuts are best.

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Dogs

Macadamia nuts, whether eaten whole, as a nut butter, or mixed into baked goods, are toxic to dogs. Although we still don’t know what the toxic ingredient(s) is/are, even a small taste can poison your dog. If your dog eats macadamia nuts, he or she may become weak or unable to walk, lethargic, vomit, or experience tremors. Contact your veterinarian right away if you suspect your dog has eaten any form of macadamia nuts.

There have been cases of dogs becoming sick from eating walnuts found on the ground underneath a walnut tree; however, the pets appear to have been poisoned by mold on the nuts’ shells rather than the nuts themselves.

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Cats

What about cats, though? Well, fortunately for them, cats don’t tend to be as exploratory about their food choices as dogs! Being pickier eaters translates to fewer poisoning cases and also a smaller database of cases for study. So, while a lot of information exists about food toxicities in dogs, that is just not the case with kitties.

While it may be the rare feline who ingests a large volume of almonds, it bears mentioning that almonds contain cyanogenic glycosides. Eaten in significant amounts, your cat can suffer from cyanide poisoning from almonds.

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While many types of nuts have nutritional benefits to humans, including Omega 3 fats and protein, the bottom line on giving nuts to cats and dogs is to just say no. Keep nuts out of your pets’ reach and stored securely to avoid a sick, or accidentally poisoned, pet!

Heidi Brenegan, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota


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