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📸 by Vie Studio

The essentials

  • Pistachios are safe in small amounts — 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 other 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.

You’re enjoying a big bowl of pistachios when Fido turns the corner and starts giving you those big, sad eyes. You know your pup wants a taste. If xylitol-free peanut butter is safe for pups, pistachios should be too, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Before you start teaching your doggie to catch pistachios, it’s important to know whether or not dogs can eat them safely.

Are pistachios safe for dogs to eat?

Pistachios aren’t considered toxic to dogs, but they aren’t exactly a beacon of health for your furry friend, either. They are a high-fat food that can lead to discomfort or even more serious health problems if you make a habit out of feeding them to your dog. However, 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.

Potential health benefits of pistachios for pups

Pistachios have some health benefits for dogs just as they do for humans. These high-fat nuts provide a ton of protein, vitamins, and other nutrients. Just keep in mind that your dog will benefit from getting their protein and vitamins from other sources rather than pistachios and other types of nuts.

  • Protein. Dogs can’t survive without protein, so there’s a reason their food is made with protein-packed ingredients like meat. While pistachios do contain protein, it’s best to turn to other options to meet their dietary needs.
  • Vitamin B1. Pistachios are rich in B1, or thiamine. This vitamin is essential for pups and helps regulate energy and metabolism. Other sources of thiamine for your dog’s diet include liver, pork, beef, and whole grains.
  • Vitamin K. Pistachios have a moderate amount of vitamin K, which is important for coagulation. In fact, a vitamin K deficiency can lead to excessive bleeding. Some great sources of vitamin K for dogs include pork, beef, chicken, cheese, cabbage, and broccoli.
  • Vitamin B6. This vitamin helps absorb protein and fat, and plays an important role in the nervous system and cognitive functioning. Pistachios are a good source of vitamin B6, but for pups, better options include fish, eggs, poultry, and pork.

Health risks of giving pistachios to your dog

When it comes to feeding your dog pistachios, the health risks really outweigh the benefits. Dogs can get their protein and vitamins from dog food and the occasional treat that doesn’t pose the same health risks.

  • Obstructions. Pistachio shells pose bowel obstruction risks, which can require surgery to remove. Some signs of a blockage include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and loss of appetite.
  • 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 too many, or if they eat something they’re not used to.
  • Pancreatitis. Pancreatitis in dogs can occur when they have a lot of sodium and fat 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 be home to Aspergillus mold. For dogs, exposure to this mold can cause Aflatoxin poisoning , liver damage, or even premature death.

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. Again, any more than a few pistachios a day can lead to several health concerns, ranging from some tummy pains to surgery or even a more serious medical condition. The best option is to give your dog a more suitable treat in place of these nuts.

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 a one or two nuts on occasion. Don’t 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 water retention. High-fat, high-sodium nuts, like salted pistachios, may 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 have a difficult time digesting milk. Eating ice cream may also put them at risk of hyperglycemia.

Tasty alternatives to pistachios and nuts

Pistachios, and many other nuts, aren’t great dietary additions for dogs. But, there are plenty of delicious and fun alternatives. Give your pup an extra special treat like the occasional dog-safe human snack or a new doggie treat. Or, opt to give them some extra attention that doesn’t involve food with an exciting toy or trip to the park.

Human foods to share

While it’s best to stick to food formulated for dogs, you can give your pup an occasional taste of human food. Several foods can be dangerous for dogs, so make sure to choose safe people foods.

  • Pumpkin. You can give your dog about one to four tablespoons of plain pumpkin, a good source of fiber.
  • Carrots. Plain carrots, cooked or uncooked, are great low-sodium, low-fat treats for dogs.
  • Cooked white rice. For dogs with sensitive bellies or for those who are in recovery, cooked white rice, especially when made with broth, can be a yummy treat with essential carbs.
  • Blueberries. Swap pistachios or other nuts for a healthy snack that’s similar in size: blueberries. These fruits are packed with vitamins, and your pup will love catching them.
  • Lean meats. Skip high-fat pistachios for leaner protein sources, like turkey or chicken. Just be sure to remove any skin or bones, and be cautious of lean beef which can still have too much fat.

Non-food treats to enjoy

Whether your doggie has been on their best behavior or you want them to stop staring while you munch on your favorite pistachio snack, here are other ways to show love and attention without food.

  • Walks. Doggies love walks, so get out and enjoy the fresh air together during an extra lap around the block or trip to the dog park.
  • Fetch. To give your pup extra attention, grab a toy and play a game of fetch. While your dog runs for the ball, use this opportunity to munch on your beloved pistachios.
  • New toy. Instead of offering up nuts or other food, show them you care with a new toy to occupy their attention.
  • Car ride. For dogs that love car rides, consider going for an afternoon drive. Just don’t let them ride with their head out the window — you never know if something could fly into their eyes or face.
  • Extra pets. You might not be able to share your human-friendly snacks, but you can give your dog extra affection with pets or belly rubs.

A tasty peanut butter-flavored treat

Rather than human food, consider this dog treat that has the nutty flavor they love without the health risks that whole nuts have.

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 pumpkin. If you just can’t deny those puppy dog eyes, you can give your furry friend one or two nuts in one day, but don’t do this often.

Which nuts are poisonous to dogs?

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

Can dogs eat pistachios?

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

What are the health risks of feeding dogs pistachios?

Unfortunately, pistachios and other types of nuts can lead to several health issues for dogs. Shells on pistachios can cause an intestinal obstruction, which may require surgery for a vet to remove. High quantities of pistachios can also lead to too much sodium and fat in your pup’s diet, which may lead to an upset stomach or even pancreatitis. Additionally, Aflatoxin poisoning, which can be caused by exposure to Aspergillus mold, may lead to liver damage or even death. This mold may grow on pistachios.

What happens if a dog eats pistachios?

If your pup gets a hold of a couple unshelled pistachio nuts, they will probably be okay. A few more pistachios, and they could experience an upset stomach. It’s important to remember that pistachios shells can cause obstructions which may be uncomfortable and could require surgery to remove. If your dog is frequently eating pistachios, they could also experience vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain, and/or pancreatitis.