Can dogs eat walnuts? Are walnuts good for dogs, or are walnuts bad for dogs?
Perhaps you were eating walnuts, and your pooch was eyeballing your food.
Or maybe you dropped one on the floor, and your canine scooped it up before you could retrieve it.
Either way, if you need to know the answer to “Can dogs eat walnuts?” you’ve come to the right place.
What foods our dogs can eat and what food we can eat are not always the same.
Figuring out what snacks your dog can have without getting sick can sometimes be confusing, especially with all the information on the internet.
In this article, we’ll look at what exactly walnuts are and what they have in them.
We’ll use this information to figure out if our canines can eat them.
Some facts about walnuts
Walnuts are a nut from any tree in the Juglan family. However, the most common walnut comes from the appropriately-named Common Walnut tree, originally native to Britain.
The walnut contains natural antioxidants that protect the oily nut from the oxygen in the air until it is ripe.
This reaction can cause walnuts to decrease the amount of O2 found in the air when a lot of walnuts are stored together, which is why ventilation is a huge deal when it comes to transporting walnuts.
Most walnuts are produced in China, which contributes about 46% of the world’s walnuts.
Behind China, the United States, Iran, Turkey, and Mexico also produce lots of walnuts.
Walnuts can be eaten both in and out of their shells, depending on exactly when the walnut was picked.
Walnuts can also be canned, pickled, and turned in butter. In some countries, there are a number of dishes that use walnuts as the main ingredient.
Walnut is also a popular coffee flavoring.
Walnuts for dogs
But what does this mean when it comes to walnuts and your dog?
Firstly, it does matter which walnut your dog eats. English walnuts are more nutritionally dense than black walnuts.
English walnuts contain 4% water, 15% protein, 65% fats, and 14% carbohydrates.
As you can see, walnuts are very high in fat. Does this mean that you shouldn’t give them to your pooch? Can dogs eat walnuts?
Are walnuts bad for dogs?
Despite some common misconceptions, fat is not bad for dogs.
In fact, fat naturally makes up a large amount of a canine’s diet.
One study found that when allowed control over their diet over a long period, dogs will choose to eat about 30% protein, 63% fat, and 7% carbohydrates.
In other words, dogs are naturally designed to get most of their nutrients from fat.
So, the fat in walnuts is not bad for dogs and fits into their diet quite well.
However, this does not necessarily mean that you should give your dog a walnut.
Are walnuts poisonous to dogs?
While the fat in walnuts is not bad for dogs, there is a chemical that can be found on walnuts that is.
When fungus grows on walnuts, it contains a chemical known as Tremogenic Mycotoxin.
This chemical can cause serious muscle tremors in a number of vertebrae, including canines.
While other pets such as cats are also affected by this chemical, dogs are most prone to it due to their roaming nature.
One of the primary producers of Tremogenic Mycotoxin is fungi, which tend to grow in trash cans.
It is not uncommon for dogs to break into their owner’s trash cans and consume food that has begun to grow fungus.
This can lead to Tremogenic Mycotoxin intoxication.
Walnuts and dogs
When do walnuts contain Tremogenic Mycotoxin?
Walnuts do not innately contain this chemical, but any fungus that grows on them will.
Because of how fatty and rich walnuts are, they can grow fungus quite quickly.
And, even if the fungus is not visible, it might be enough to hurt a small dog.
Furthermore, if your dog eats the shell of a walnut, it can cause an impaction.
This happens when the shell gets stuck in the dog’s intestines and creates a blockage.
What should I do if my dog ate a walnut?
If your dog has eaten a walnut, you should first figure out if the shell was consumed as well.
If the shell was consumed, you should call your veterinarian right away. Smaller dogs are particularly at risk for impaction, but your vet will probably want to examine and keep a close eye on your dog no matter their size.
If the shell was not consumed the next question you should ask is, “Was it moldy?”
Fresh walnuts from the store will probably not have mold on them, but if the walnuts were in the trash or buried in the back of the pantry, there is a risk that fungus had already begun to grow.
If there was even a chance that your dog consumed a moldy walnut, you should call your veterinarian right away.
After dogs eat walnuts treatment
After eating a moldy walnut, a dog will need to be treated right away to avoid a life-threatening seizure.
The treatment of a dog with Tremorgenic Mycotoxin intoxication has three stages: control the seizure and tremors, remove the toxin, and stabilize the canine.
Controlling the seizure is usually done with medication at your vet’s office.
To remove the toxin, your dog might be given something induce vomiting, and medication might also be given to limit the absorption of the toxin in the digestion tract.
Finally, supportive therapy such as fluids and a warm place to rest will probably be provided.
Can dogs eat walnuts?
Because of the risk, we do not recommend giving your pooch a walnut even if you think fungus is not present.
Your dog’s health should simply not be put a risk to feed them this snack.
References and Further Reading
Evans, Tim. “Tremorgenic Mycotoxins.” Veterinary Toxicology. 2018.
Schell, Mary. “Tremorgenic mycotoxin intoxication.” Veterinary Medicine. 2000.
Roberts. “Macronutrient intake of dogs, self‐selecting diets varying in composition offered ad libitum.” Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. 2017.
“Nutrition, walnuts, English.” SELF Nutrition Data.
“Crops.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
“Walnuts.” Transport Information Services.