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📸 by Vie Studio

The essentials

  • Pistachios aren’t necessarily toxic — For most dogs, having one or two unshelled, unsalted pistachios is okay on occasion.
  • Large amounts can lead to serious health problems — There are some risks associated with giving pistachios to dogs, including Aflatoxin poisoning and pancreatitis.
  • Consider healthy treats as an alternative — Rather than giving your pup nuts and seeds, consider tasty peanut butter-flavored treats — or nontoxic human foods like pumpkin.

Pistachios aren’t considered toxic to dogs, but they are high-fat food that can lead to tummy troubles or more serious health problems if you make a habit out of feeding them to your dog.

If you do give in to begging, limit consumption to just a couple of pistachios, and make sure they are unshelled — the shells can cause an obstruction and require surgery to remove them.

Health risks of giving pistachios to your dog

When it comes to feeding your dog pistachios, the risks generally outweigh the benefits. Some of the risks of feeding pistachios to your dog include:

  • Obstructions. Pistachio shells can cause a bowel obstruction, which can require surgery to remove. Some signs of a blockage include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and loss of appetite.
  • Choking. These small green nuts and their shells can get lodged in your dog’s throat, making them a potential choking hazard — especially for small dogs.
  • GI upset. It can be difficult for pups to break into pistachio shells, making them even more challenging to digest in their whole form. Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can be common symptoms if a pup ingests large quantities, or if they eat something they’re not used to.
  • Pancreatitis. Pancreatitis in dogs can occur when they have a lot of high sodium and fatty foods in their diet. Pistachios are high in fat, and salted varieties also come with a lot of sodium — putting these treats into the high-risk category.
  • Aflatoxin poisoning. Although rare, pistachios may host Aspergillus mold. For dogs, exposure to this mold can cause Aflatoxin poisoning , liver damage, or even premature death.

👉 Always call your veterinarian if your dog experiences vomiting or diarrhea more than a couple of times, or shows signs of tremors or seizures.

Are any pistachios good for pups?

Pistachios can provide protein, vitamins, and other nutrients for dogs just as they do for humans. However, your dog is likely to benefit more from getting their protein and vitamins from safer sources, rather than pistachios and other types of nuts.

For example: Pistachios are packed with vitamins B1, vitamin K , and vitamin B6. Together, these vitamins are essential for pups — helping regulate their energy, metabolism, blood coagulation, nervous system, and cognitive function.

Instead of pistachios, dogs can receive these nutrients through their vet-approved diets, and from safer alternative treat options (like unseasoned chicken and beef).

How to keep your dog safe when eating pistachios

If your pup won’t stop begging for a taste of your snack, follow these guidelines before giving them any pistachios.

Share them in extreme moderation — Pups should get their protein and vitamins from other food sources — but if you do share pistachios with them, keep it to just one or two nuts on occasion. It’s best not to make this a daily habit.

Skip the shell — Pistachio nuts are difficult for a dog to chew, and even more so when they still have shells. Opt for unshelled pistachios to minimize the choking hazard and risk of an obstruction.

Opt for unsalted optionsSalted nuts are bad for dogs and can lead to fluid retention. High-fat, high-sodium nuts, like salted pistachios, can also lead to obesity and/or pancreatitis.

Avoid pistachio ice cream — Pistachio ice cream is a tasty treat for you, but not so much for your dog. Older dogs typically have a difficult time digesting milk and eating ice cream may also put them at risk of hyperglycemia.

How many pistachios can you feed your dog?

All people food and treats should comprise 10% or less of your dog’s daily calories. Using this information, our pet experts have put together this chart showing how many pistachios your dog can safely eat in a day:

Small dog (under 20 pounds) 1 pistachio
Medium dog (20-50 pounds) 2 to 4 pistachios
Large dog (50-90 pounds) 4 to 5 pistachios
Giant dog (90+ pounds) 5 to 6 pistachios

👉 Keep in mind that if your dog eats a bunch of other snacks or if they struggle with obesity, they should have even fewer pistachios. Always consult your veterinarian before feeding your pet pistachios, as they can give you tailored nutritional recommendations for your pet’s health needs. 

Tasty alternatives to pistachios and nuts

While it’s best to stick to food formulated for dogs, you can give your pup an occasional taste of human food. Dr. Armstrong recommends that it may be easier to avoid nuts entirely instead of trying to remember which kinds of nuts are toxic and which ones are okay.

In addition to toxic nuts, several other human foods can be dangerous for dogs, so make sure to choose safe people foods — like plain pumpkin or carrots. You can also skip high-fat pistachios for leaner protein sources, like turkey or chicken. If you serve meat, just be sure to remove any skin or bones, and be cautious of lean beef which can still have too much fat.

Instead of human food, you can also spoil your pup with a tasty peanut butter-flavored dog treat. This dog treat boasts the nutty flavor dogs love, without the health concerns that certain types of nuts may bring.

While pistachios aren’t toxic, they aren’t the best option for our furry friends. Small quantities of plain pistachios are likely okay, depending on your dog’s size and health conditions. Choosing a healthier treat containing less fat and sodium, is a better idea, though, especially if your pup needs to lose weight. (Plus, you won’t have to worry about shell fragments that pistachios could bring!)

Frequently asked questions

How many pistachios can a dog eat?

Ideally, it’s best to avoid feeding your dog pistachios. Instead, give them other tasty snacks like dog treats or some occasional human foods like strawberries. If you just can’t deny those puppy dog eyes, you can give your furry friend one or two nuts in one day — but it’s not a good idea to make this a daily habit.

Which nuts are toxic to dogs?

Nuts, particularly in large amounts, can be dangerous to dogs. Common nuts like macadamia nuts, pecans, and black walnuts are toxic to dogs, so keep them stored safely out of reach. While many nuts like peanuts and almonds aren’t toxic to dogs, their high-fat content can cause weight gain, gastrointestinal discomfort, and possibly pancreatitis when given in large quantities.

Can dogs eat pistachios?

Most dogs can eat pistachios in very small amounts. But, it’s best to give your dog their own food or select human foods to avoid potential health issues.

What are the health risks of feeding pistachios?

Unfortunately, pistachios and other types of nuts may be hazardous to your dog’s health. Too much fat — even healthy fats — can cause health problems, as can too much salt. Shells on pistachios can cause an intestinal obstruction, which may require surgery for a vet to remove. Additionally, Aspergillus mold may grow on pistachios, which can result in Aflatoxin poisoning. Ingesting moldy pistachios may lead to liver damage or even death.

What happens if a dog eats pistachios?

If your pup gets a hold of a couple of pistachio nuts, they will probably be okay in most cases — unless they ingested the shell or ate moldy pistachios. However, they could experience an upset stomach with a few more pistachios.

It’s important to remember that pistachio shells can cause obstructions with serious consequences and could require surgery to remove them. If your dog is frequently eating pistachios, they could also experience vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain, and/or pancreatitis. Always consult your veterinarian before feeding your pet any new foods, as they can provide tailored advice based on your dog’s health.