A lot of the food and drink that human beings enjoy can pose a serious risk of harm to your pet, and many new dog owners are often remarkably surprised by just how harmful these foods can be compared to their pronounced health benefits for us.
With that in mind, you may have already learned bout how many nuts pose a health risk to dogs. So, can dogs eat walnuts? Let’s find out.
Are walnuts good for dogs?
Knowing whether or not you can feed walnuts to your dog can be a complex issue.
That’s because the nuts themselves don’t have too many risks for dogs, but much of their shells and surroundings can.
Before we dive into that, let’s examine if walnuts are healthy for dogs to begin with – what could they actually offer?
Walnuts contain much in the way of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, all of which can do your dog some good if taken in intelligently.
That’s even true of fats, in good moderation – although it’s also true that it’s all too easy to overdo it in giving fats to your dog, and adding to their sluggishness and weight gain in the long term.
Yet fats naturally occur in dogs’ diets overall, and those found in walnuts can be healthily broken down by your dog.
Similarly, there is energy to be enjoyed in the carbohydrates in walnuts, and likewise, protein more than speaks for itself.
From protein, your dog derives energy and muscular development, as well as the means to be their best selves when they’re still growing up.
Protein adds to strength and vitality, and can likewise help those dogs who are getting on in their years to enjoy some boosted energy, even if their aches and pains are growing as they mature.
Yet despite all of these benefits as found in walnuts, they are far safer as enjoyed by human beings than by dogs – although a dog who steals one as soon as you accidentally drop it is unlikely to do themselves much harm.
While walnuts are not as immediately toxic to dogs as some other nuts are, or as dangerous as the likes of grapes or onions, there are definite risks to giving your dog walnuts that need to be kept in mind.
Because of that, it simply isn’t recommended to give walnuts to your dog – any nutritional benefits that could come from these nuts can be more safely and beneficially found in other kinds of food.
There’s little reason to consider giving walnuts to your dog regularly.
Dangers of walnuts for dogs
Perhaps one of the biggest dangers of giving walnuts to a dog, especially if your animal is a young dog, a puppy or a fast eater, is the choking hazard that they represent.
Walnuts are tough and robust, and if your dog happens to get hold of them in their shells, that risk is all the more pronounced.
Walnut shells are prone to crunch down into very sharp fragments, which can cut your dog’s gums if he or she is eating them – to say nothing of the damage they can do to your pet’s innards.
It’s not just the throat or your dog’s breathing that can be blocked – walnut shells can also block the intestines of a dog, and obstruct how food is processed by the animal.
This can create some serious complications, and certainly requires the attention of a professional vet if it occurs.
Yet even if the shells are removed from walnuts, and they are served up small enough to not seem a choking hazard, there are further risks to keep in mind.
Because of how walnuts are shaped, and their high-fat content, they can very rapidly become home to fungal growths unseen by the human eye, and mostly harmless to our digestive tracts.
Yet to dogs, these same spores and fungi are very dangerous, even poisonous and toxic.
Even the most well cleaned and peeled walnut can hold the risk of conveying this nastiness onto a dog, which is why walnuts are often advised to simply be avoided by dogs altogether.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, after all.
As walnuts sit around your home, the risk of them attracting and growing these molds and fungus grows.
As such, only those walnuts that have been freshly rid of their shells and store-bought should be considered for your dog.
If your pet has found their way to these nuts of their own volition, or have dug them up out of the garbage, the risk is all the greater.
The fungus and mold being consumed here can, in some cases, trigger a dreadful seizure in your dog – and if this occurs, you’re recommended to contact your vet immediately.
Time is of the essence to make sure that professional help can prevent any lasting harm being done to your dog.
How many walnuts can a dog eat daily?
If you’re entirely confident you can serve walnuts to your dog in a safe way, you might well be wondering how many walnuts a dog can eat daily.
The truth is, even with nuts being as healthy for human beings as they are, dogs don’t need many nuts at all to make the most of their protein and fiber content.
In fact, even one or two walnuts tossed over as a treat are more than good enough to do your dog right.
Feeding nuts to your dog daily is not altogether recommended by many experts, and the proteins and other goodness that nuts can bring can be more safely gleaned by feeding your dog other foodstuffs.
They may well already be included in your pet’s existing diet.
Naturally, if there are children in your family eating any chocolate nut snacks or the like, make sure that they know that a chocolate coating is just as harmful to a dog as an irresponsibly served up walnut.
Don’t let the big eyes and whimpers of a hungry dog overpower common sense here.
What to do if your dog eats a walnut
So many dog owners go out of their way to help their pooches live long, happy and healthy lives.
We take our commitments to our furry family members very seriously, and so it can sometimes be quite discouraging to find that our dogs can be especially crafty in getting to the food they’re not supposed to.
It could be this that means you catch your dog eating walnuts, or it could be that someone well-intentioned but not altogether knowledgeable in what dogs can and can’t eat has handed some walnuts over to your dog as a friendly gesture.
Before panicking, it’s important to identify how your dog came about those walnuts.
That’s not only to make sure he or she doesn’t repeat this bad behavior but also to see if there is anything especially risky about the walnuts being eaten.
For instance, if your dog has eaten walnuts with the shells on, you ought to have some water close at hand and brace for the risk of choking or internal blockages. If in doubt, definitely contact your vet.
Meanwhile, if your dog has found walnuts that have been left for days, or have been squirreled out from the garbage to be eaten, the likelihood of them having tiny yet dangerous toxic fungus on them is far higher.
Once again, if in doubt, consult your vet – and do so all the more if your dog begins to experience seizures, consistent vomiting or spasming.
However, you may well find that your dog is fine, especially if the walnuts were fresh and well peeled and plain of any flavorings.
The worst your dog will experience here is a tummy ache if they’ve overindulged, thanks to the high-fat content of walnuts compared to what is found in a lot of what dogs eat.
More than this though, it’s important to nip this kind of behavior in the bud, as your dog might not be so fortunate next time, and could well help themselves to far more dangerous food – moldy walnuts, or worse.
Once you identify the problem and talk to your pet about their behavior, you should be able to avoid a repeat performance. Be firm but fair with your pet.
While walnuts are not toxic to dogs, they come with enough complications in feeding them to your pet – not to mention some pretty severe risks – that it’s often not worth giving them to your pup versus the kinds of treats they could have instead.
Your dog is unlikely to come to severe harm if eating a walnut by mistake or as a sudden treat by someone well-meaning, but this shouldn’t be allowed to become a regular occurrence.
The protein, fats, and carbohydrates in walnuts can be readily balanced out in your dog’s dinner through other means.
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.