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A bowl of pecans.

The essentials

  • Pecans contain a chemical called juglone which is poisonous to dogs — Juglone can cause seizures, tremors, and even death in canines if too much is ingested. 
  • Pecans nuts are susceptible to mold growth, especially aspergillus — This can cause aspergillosis in dogs, particularly those with compromised immune systems. It’s more commonly found in store-bought pecans that have been exposed to moisture.
  • All nuts, including pecans, are high in fat — Dogs thrive on a high protein, low fat diet. Fatty foods, such as nuts, should be avoided because they can lead to obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, and arthritis.

We all love a slice of pecan pie, but this is one tasty treat that you should keep away from your canine companion. Pecans should not be offered to dogs in any form because they can cause some serious side effects. This doesn’t mean you have to panic and call the veterinarian if your dog manages to sneak one or two off the floor. However, they should not be included in your canine’s diet, no matter how many times your dog turns those adorable puppy eyes on you.

Why pecans are bad for dogs

Nuts are full of protein, but they are also high in fat content. Fatty foods like this 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. 

Pecans contain a substance called juglone which is present in all members of the Juglandaceae plant family including black walnuts and butternuts. This chemical is naturally present in the leaves, stems, and nuts of pecan trees which inhibits the growth of nearby plants. It’s toxic to both dogs and horses if enough is consumed. 

Pecans are also susceptible to aspergillus fungus . This is a mold that contains tremorgenic mycotoxins, which are metabolites that cause muscle tremors, seizures, and vomiting in dogs. Most of us have seen the aspergillus fungus at some point in our lives, as it’s responsible for the hairy mold that grows on rotten fruits and vegetables. There are over 180 different types of aspergillus mold and most are fairly harmless. However, some of the more common ones such as Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus terreus can be severely toxic to dogs. Aspergillus is more likely to grow on store-bought pecans that have been exposed to moisture.

You may think you would definitely notice mold growing on a bag of pecans. But, even microscopic amounts that are invisible to the naked eye can be fatal to dogs. Luckily, most dogs have defense mechanisms to prevent infection, such as nasal sinuses that are designed to trap debris. However, if aspergillus spores get past these defenses they can cause serious illness. This is more common in dogs with compromised immune systems. Long-nosed breeds are also more susceptible, but it’s worth remembering that any dog can develop aspergillosis.

👉While pecans are a no-no, there are plenty of human foods that are safe for dogs to share with you.

Potential health risks of giving your dog pecans

Pecans are not a safe treat for dogs because of the risk of toxicity. This can lead to a number of detrimental health conditions including:

  • Gastrointestinal upset. Dogs are known to have sensitive stomachs, especially when they eat too much human food or something unfamiliar. In addition, nuts have a high fiber content which can be hard for dogs to digest. This can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. You may also notice your dog dry heaving or gagging
  • Pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which is a vital part of a dog’s digestive system. Symptoms include a hunched posture (indicating abdominal pain), lethargy, and vomiting of a yellow substance called bile.  
  • Tremors or seizures. The ingestion of small amounts of a toxin such as aspergillus can cause muscle tremors that can last for hours. If your dog ingests too much of a toxin, it can lead to seizures which can be fatal. Symptoms of a seizure include muscle stiffness and convulsions. Don’t attempt to move a dog that’s having a seizure, just ensure that there is nothing nearby that can harm them. You should call a vet immediately if you believe your dog’s seizure is caused by toxicity.
  • Intestinal blockages . Many types of nuts, including pecans, almonds, and peanuts, can be a choking hazard for dogs because they are the perfect size to get lodged in the intestines. Intestinal blockages can be fatal, especially in small breeds, and often require surgery to remove. 
  • Irregular urination. Pecans can affect your dog’s liver which can lead to bladder stones and other urinary tract infections in canines. Symptoms include straining to urinate and increased thirst.

🚨 Continuous vomiting and diarrhea puts your dog at high risk of dehydration. You must contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of the warning signs of dehydration in dogs, including a dry nose, panting, and thick saliva.


What to do if your dog eats pecans

If your dog has accidentally eaten a couple 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, which usually occurs within a couple of hours after ingestion. If vomiting and diarrhea persist for longer than two hours, you should seek emergency veterinary care immediately because it can lead to dehydration. 

If your dog has swallowed a whole handful of pecans, you should take your dog to the emergency veterinary clinic right away, especially if the pecans were moldy.

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. Peanut butter is fine to offer occasionally but it’s very fatty, so only give in moderation. Make sure any peanut butter you buy does not contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol because it causes a dangerously rapid release of insulin in the body. 

There are plenty of other healthy alternatives to feed your dog including safe vegetables and fruits like mangos. But, remember that the best option for your pup is always a high protein, low fat, and low carb food that’s made for dogs. If you’re looking for other ways to spoil your dog, consider an extra 30 minutes of play or a relaxing evening walk. 

Frequently asked questions

How many pecans can a dog eat?

Dogs should not be given pecans because they are susceptible to developing aspergillus mold which can be fatal. They also contain a toxin called juglone. This can cause severe adverse reactions in canines. Instead, offer your dog 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. It also depends on the size of the dog. You may want to observe your dog for symptoms of gastric upset which can include vomiting and 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.

Which nuts are poisonous to dogs? 

Black walnuts and macadamia nuts should be avoided at all costs because they are extremely toxic to dogs. Pecans, raw cashews, and any seasoned or salted nuts should also be avoided. While other nuts are not considered toxic, they do pose a choking hazard and contain high levels of fat that can lead to health issues if too many are eaten.