- Pecans can be poisonous to dogs — All pecans contain a toxic compound called juglone, which causes gastrointestinal problems in animals with severity depending on your dog’s size.
- It’s not just the toxin to watch for — Shell fragments and whole pecans in the shell can also be hazardous to your dog’s intestinal tract.
- All nuts, including pecans, are high in fat — Fatty foods, such as nuts, should be given in low quantities (if at all) because they can lead to various health conditions.
While pecans might be a healthy snack for humans, they’re off the table for canines. Pecans and black walnuts contain a compound called juglone, which is toxic to dogs and cats. These nuts may also carry toxic Aspergillus mold and can put dogs in danger of pancreatitis due to the high amount of fat.
While one or two nuts may not harm your dog depending on their size and weight, always call your vet if you notice any signs of poisoning, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or neurological symptoms. Here’s what you need to know about pecan safety for your pet.
Why pecans are bad for dogs
All pecans are toxic to dogs, but some may be even more dangerous than others. All parts of the pecan tree produce juglone, which is toxic to dogs, but these nuts are also known for harboring a certain type of mold.
Dr. Liza Cahn notes that not every time your dog eats a pecan necessarily warrants a vet visit, but it’s still worth taking precautions.
1 or 2 ingested by accident should be ok to monitor for GI upset. The severity could depend on the size of the dog and whether the pecan is contaminated with mold or not. – Liza Cahn, DVM
⚠️You should also never give your dog anything with pecans as an ingredient — such as pecan pie or trail mix — as there can be toxic nuts, fruits (like raisins), or fake sweeteners in the blend. If your dog raids the snack cupboard, give your veterinarian a call.
1. Juglone poisoning
Pecans contain a substance called juglone , which is present in all members of the Juglandaceae plant family, including black walnuts and butternuts.
In addition to the juglone found in the nuts, a pecan tree’s stems and leaves also produce this toxin to inhibit the growth of nearby plants that could compete for resources. Eating either the leaves or the nuts could lead to symptoms of toxicity in your pet.
2. Pecans are susceptible to mold
Some of the more common species of molds, such as those in the Aspergillus family, commonly grow on pecans and can be severely toxic to dogs.
Aspergillus fungus , for example, contains tremorgenic mycotoxins — metabolites that cause muscle tremors, seizures, and vomiting in dogs.
👉 Aspergillus fungus is also responsible for the hairy mold that grows on rotten fruits and vegetables. Always rinse fruits and vegetables before giving them to your pup, and never let them eat moldy produce because of the potential risk of toxic contamination.
3. Pecans pose health risks
Nuts are full of protein, but they are also high in fat content. While these “healthy fats” may be a good idea for humans in moderation, fatty foods like pecans can lead to health issues in dogs like obesity or pancreatitis if eaten in large amounts.
Pecan shells can also cause trauma to a dog’s gastrointestinal lining, or they can put your pup at risk of choking or intestinal obstruction if they’re consumed whole.
While one or two pecans might not harm your pup depending on their overall size, these nuts can potentially lead to many detrimental health conditions including:
- Gastrointestinal upset. Dogs are known to have sensitive stomachs, especially when they eat too much human food or something unfamiliar. Beyond this, nuts have a high fiber content which can be hard for dogs to digest. As a result, pecan ingestion can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. You may also notice your dog dry heaving or gagging.
- Pancreatitis. Pancreatitis refers to severe inflammation of the pancreas, and it’s a medical emergency that can be chronic or acute. Symptoms include a hunched posture (indicating abdominal pain), lethargy, and vomiting.
- Intestinal blockage . If a dog swallows an entire unshelled pecan, they’re at risk of an intestinal blockage or bowel obstruction. These blockages can be fatal and require emergency surgery to remove them.
- Choking hazard. Many types of nuts — including pecans, almonds, and peanuts — can be a choking hazard for dogs, as they are the perfect size to get lodged in the throat.
- Tremors or seizures. Toxicity can cause involuntary tremors and seizures, including muscle stiffness and convulsions. You should call a vet immediately if you believe your dog’s seizure is caused by toxicity.
👉 Don’t attempt to move a dog that’s having a seizure, but ensure that there is nothing nearby that can harm them. Call your vet and prepare to take them to the hospital as soon as they’re stable.
Symptoms of pecan toxicity in dogs
If your dog accidentally eats a small amount of pecans, it’s usually not a cause for alarm. However, it’s a good idea to observe your dog for signs of gastrointestinal upset, usually within a couple of hours after ingestion.
If your dog displays signs of neurological distress, such as seizures, take them to the vet immediately. Other signs to watch for include:
- Difficulty breathing. If your dog can’t catch their breath, they might be choking on a pecan or shell. Call your vet immediately.
- Seizures or tremors. Neurological symptoms like seizures and tremors can be indicators of toxicity. If you notice episodes occurring, call your vet immediately — but don’t attempt to move your dog until the episode has passed.
- Lethargy. A lack of desire to play is a tell-tale sign your pup isn’t feeling well. Make sure your dog is still drinking plenty of water, and call your vet if there are any sudden changes in their eating or playing habits.
- Hunched posture. Stooping may indicate abdominal pain from gastrointestinal upset or may be a one of the signs of pancreatitis. When it’s happening, it looks like a hunched posture (or downward dog position), so if you notice any odd nose-down behavior, it’s worth a call to your veterinarian.
- Diarrhea. The high fiber content in pecans can lead to loose stool. Acute diarrhea can also cause dehydration, so call your vet if your dog experiences severe tummy issues, and always call your vet if you notice blood in their stool.
- Vomiting. While it might not be alarming if your dog throws up once or twice, you should take note if they vomit more than that.
🚨If vomiting and diarrhea continue for longer than two hours or are accompanied by other symptoms, you should seek emergency veterinary care immediately as it can lead to dehydration and neurological symptoms.
Safe alternatives to pecans and nuts
Not all nuts are considered toxic to dogs, but they’re still not the best treats to offer because of their high fat content and the risk of fungal contamination. Plenty of other healthier alternatives to feed your dog include safe vegetables and fruits like bananas.
Remember that the best option for your pup is always a high protein, low fat, and low carb food that’s made for dogs. All treats should equal less than 10% of your dog’s overall caloric intake, so don’t overdo it even with healthy snacks. If you’re looking for other ways to spoil your dog, consider an extra 30 minutes of play or a relaxing evening walk.
Pecans are not a safe food to feed your dog, so it’s best to keep them off the floor and out of their reach. While a small amount may not hurt them depending on their size, these nuts do have the potential to poison your pup. Always call your veterinarian if your dog acts like they are feeling unwell after consuming pecans, or if you know they ate something toxic.
Frequently asked questions
How many pecans can a dog eat?
Dogs should not be given pecans at all, as they contain toxic juglone and possible Aspergillus mold overgrowth, which can be fatal. Instead of treating your pal to some pecans, offer them treats or healthy alternatives like broccoli, carrots, and green beans.
What happens if a dog eats a pecan?
If a dog eats a couple of pecans, it doesn’t necessarily warrant an emergency trip to the vet, especially if you have a large dog. You may want to observe your dog for symptoms of GI issues, like vomiting or diarrhea. If these symptoms persist for more than a couple of hours, then you should contact your vet immediately, as this can lead to dehydration.
What nuts are toxic to dogs?
Black walnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans are especially toxic to dogs — but most nuts aren’t good for pets due to their high fat content. Peanuts, cashews, and almonds are safe nuts for dogs, but still shouldn’t be given in high doses due to the fat content in each. Additionally, all kinds of salted nuts should be avoided because of the high sodium content. Peanut butter can be a good snack in small amounts, as long as it doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol.
Can pecans kill dogs?
Yes, if consumed in large quantities for your dog’s size and stature. All pecans contain juglone, a compound that’s toxic to dogs — and some may also carry toxic mold. There isn’t an established “safe” threshold for pecans at the time of this publication, so it’s best to avoid them entirely—especially since there’s the added risk of eating a moldy pecan.
Are walnuts and pecans safe for dogs to eat?
Not necessarily. Black walnuts and pecans naturally contain a compound called juglone that’s toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. English walnuts contain smaller quantities of juglone, but they are still a bad idea for your dog due to their high-fat content and choking hazard. It’s best to steer clear of both altogether.