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Can Dogs Eat Chestnuts? Are Chestnuts Healthy Or Toxic To Dogs?

Can Dogs Eat Chestnuts

During the colder months, we can’t help but indulge by snackin’ on a bowl of chestnuts. It’s nutty, sweet, buttery, and oh so hearty. However, dog owners often find themselves in a pickle.

With their furry friend eyeing their nutty treat, a dog lovers’ brain starts to ask questions like: Are chestnuts safe for dogs? Can dogs eat chestnuts? 

Yes, dogs can’t help but go crazy over nuts, chestnuts included. Unfortunately, not all nuts or human foods are good for dogs. Fact is, some of the foods we eat which we consider beneficial are actually toxic to dogs.

If you want to know if it’s okay to share chestnuts with your canine friend, you’ve come to the right page.

Your go-to site for anything dog-related, Dog Food Guide is here to give you everything you need to know about chestnuts – their benefits and dangers to your dog’s health and more.

Need-To-Know Chestnut Facts

Chestnuts, which we love to munch on during the fall and winter seasons, have been around for thousands of years. They’re edible nuts that grow on shrubs and trees from the Castanea genus. The most common types include European, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and American chestnuts. 

Interestingly, the giant American chestnut trees were once seen all over the Eastern United States. But that was only until the early 1900s.

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Sadly, what was once ubiquitous became almost extinct due to a fungal infection, aka “chestnut blight,” which nearly wiped off the trees from the face of America. 

Nowadays, most of the chestnuts we see being roasted in the streets are imported. Nonetheless, they still have that mildly sweet and yummy taste that works well with many dishes – from soups, stuffings, salads, and even pastries.

Nutrition-wise, this delicious treat comes with a lot of benefits. Unlike other nuts loaded with fat, chestnuts are low in fat and calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. This includes:

  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
Can Dogs Eat Chestnuts? Are Chestnuts Healthy Or Toxic To Dogs? 1

Can Dogs Eat Chestnuts?

If you’re referring to American chestnuts and other chestnuts from the Castanea genus, the answer is Yes. Adding chestnuts to your pet’s diet is completely fine as long as it’s only given as an occasional treat.

However, if you’re thinking of your dog eating some other kind of chestnut, the answer might vary. So make sure to read through all the chestnut-related questions listed below.

We’ve made sure to include all the chestnut varieties you can think of – from raw and cooked chestnuts to water and horse chestnuts.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Chestnuts?

Raw chestnuts would often taste bitter because they contain higher amounts of tannins. As such, feeding this to your dog would most likely induce an adverse reaction. In short, your dog will not like it since dogs can’t tolerate anything that tastes bitter.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Chestnuts?

If you want your dog to eat chestnuts with their tails wagging, your best bet is to serve it cooked. The truth is, chestnuts taste better (or much sweeter) when cooked. Just make sure to avoid adding any salt or seasoning.

Can Dogs Eat Roasted Chestnuts?

Roasted chestnuts are equivalent to cooked chestnuts, so the answer is yes. But just like any cooked chestnuts, it’s best to give your dog chestnuts minus any salt, sugar, and other seasonings.

Can Dogs Eat Sweet Chestnuts?

Scientifically known as “Castanea sativa,” sweet chestnuts are also known as European or Spanish chestnuts. If you have some leftover sweet chestnuts, feel free to let your dog eat some since these are completely safe for dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Water Chestnuts?

Although they’re called chestnuts, water chestnuts are not nuts. These are aquatic vegetables that grow in muddy areas like ponds. And you know what? This is one vegetable that you can let your dog eat. It’s hydrating and nutrient-dense. 

Just like chestnuts, water chestnuts have positive effects on your pet’s health. On the one hand, giving too much can upset your dog’s stomach. 

Can Dogs Eat Horse Chestnuts?

The horse chestnut tree, aka “buckeye,” bears seeds (encased in a spiky green shell) that look a lot like sweet chestnuts. The difference? Horse chestnuts taste bitter and are toxic to some animals.

Despite the bitter taste, extract from the seeds of horse chestnuts is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to improve blood circulation and reduce varicose veins – in humans at least. 

Unfortunately, it’s a different story for dogs. ASPCA confirms this plant’s toxic effects on dogs, cats, and horses. Horse chestnut (its flowers, leaves, and bark) contains a neurotoxin called Aesculin. Ingesting small amounts can lead to severe diarrhea and vomiting. 

If your dog ate some, watch out for other symptoms like lethargy, depression or excitement, convulsions, paralysis, or coma. Consuming large doses is deadly and may lead to ruptured red blood cells and damaged nerve tissues. 

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Are Chestnuts Good For Dogs? 

From here on, we will focus more on the edible type of chestnuts. And as you all know by now, it’s okay to give your dog chestnuts every now and then. But, what’s great about this is that chestnuts are also good for dogs.

Yes, you read it right. Giving your dogs chestnuts will not only satisfy its cravings for anything nutty, but your dog is also getting a few things out of it:

Good For Weight Management

Fatty foods are a no-no for dogs, and most nuts are fat dense. Good thing, chestnuts aren’t. Low in calories and fat and high in fiber, chestnuts are a great occasional treat for dogs trying to lose some pounds or those on a calorie-controlled diet since it will give them the feeling of “fullness.”

Improves Digestive Health

Since chestnuts are high in fiber, adding chestnuts to your dog’s diet may help regularize its bowel movement by adding bulk to its stool.

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Great Pick-Me-Up

If your dog needs a boost in energy, you might want to treat your dog to a few chestnuts. The high fiber will not only enhance your dog’s digestive system health but will also help keep your dog on its paws after an activity-filled day.

Can Maintain Blood Sugar Levels

Having a low glycemic index, you don’t have to worry about blood sugar level spikes when you feed your dog small quantities of chestnuts.

Healthy Bones & Healthy Joints

Good bone health can be achieved thanks to the magnesium found in chestnuts. Vitamin C and omega fatty acids also work wonders in reducing inflammation and decreasing arthritis or joint pain.

Besides that, omega fatty acids also play a vital role in keeping your dog’s blood vessels, immune system, and brain functions in check.

Can Dogs Eat Chestnuts? Are Chestnuts Healthy Or Toxic To Dogs? 3

Are Chestnuts Bad For Dogs?

Although the answer to your “are chestnuts good for dogs” question is yes, chestnuts can also be bad for dogs if it’s given the wrong way. Want to know how are chestnuts bad for dogs? Read on to find out.

Choking Hazard & Intestinal Blockage

Large dogs may not have a problem swallowing this whole, but smaller dogs will. Given its size, the chestnut can easily get lodged in your dog’s airways. The hard-to-digest chestnut shells may also obstruct your dog’s gastrointestinal system and cause intestinal blockage. 

Stomach Problems

While chestnuts are not high in fat, they can be too starchy. Unlike humans, a dog’s digestive system isn’t made to digest starch. As such, overeating chestnuts will most likely lead to an upset stomach and other GI problems like vomiting and diarrhea.

Allergic Reaction

Chestnuts allergies are not that common in dogs. Still, it can happen. So, it’s best to watch out for any allergic reactions, including skin irritation, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Sodium-Ion Poisoning

True, a little salt won’t hurt your pup. But, giving your dog too much can be lethal. According to HealthyPaws, feeding your dog over 1.5 grams of sodium per pound of body weight can already be considered dangerous to dogs. 

Symptoms of salt poisoning include vomiting, excessive thirst, diarrhea, seizures, and coma.

Final Verdict

Dogs love nuts. It just can’t be helped, and you know exactly why. It’s so yummy; one bite is never enough. Good thing, your dog can have some in moderation. 

But before you allow your dog to chow down on a few pieces, we still encourage you to seek expert veterinary advice. After all, they know best. 

Now, if you’ve decided to give them some, ensure to follow these tips to avoid any unnecessary visits to your local vet:

Choose pure chestnuts over salted chestnuts. Since too much salt isn’t good for dogs, it’s best to give them plain chestnuts (minus any seasoning).

Get them cooked or roasted chestnuts. Your dog will love you more if you serve them roasted chestnuts since these taste better than raw chestnuts.

Peel off the shells. Wondering if dogs eat chestnut shells? If you can recall, giving your dog chestnut shells isn’t recommended since it can lead to severe problems (think choking and blockage).

Portion control is vital. A dog’s food should always be complete and well-balanced. Just like any other treat, chestnuts should only be served in small portions, occasionally. Giving your dog more than a couple could only lead to tummy problems – something you don’t want your dog to have. 

Can Dogs Eat Chestnuts? Are Chestnuts Healthy Or Toxic To Dogs? 4

Bonus Recipes

Bacon and Chestnut Stuffing

Bacon and Chestnut Stuffing

Woman's Day
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 10
Calories 336 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Small loaf country bread (about 1 lb)
  • 3/4 lb Bacon sliced
  • 2 med Onions
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 large Carrots
  • 1 stalk Celery
  • 3 cups Chicken broth low-sodium
  • 1 cup Chestnuts jarred
  • 2 large Eggs

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 375°F. Oil a 3-qt casserole dish. Place the bread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes; transfer to a large bowl.
  • Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
  • Wipe out skillet. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very tender and beginning to turn golden, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
  • Transfer the vegetable mixture to the bowl and toss with the bread. Stir in the bacon and chestnuts. Fold in the beaten eggs.
  • Transfer to the prepared baking dish, cover with foil and bake 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more.
  • Completely cool down before giving to pets.
Can Dogs Eat Chestnuts? Are Chestnuts Healthy Or Toxic To Dogs? 5

Cashew Chicken

Ree Drummond
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup Soy sauce low sodium
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 6 whole boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into small cubes
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp Ginger minced
  • 1/4 cup Chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Water chestnuts (drained, canned) coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Cashews unsalted
  • Cooked rice  for serving (if desired)

Instructions
 

  • In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce, brown sugar and sesame oil. Set aside. 
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat and add the chicken in a single layer.
  • Sprinkle with a small amount of salt, then leave it alone for at least a couple of minutes to give the chicken a chance to brown.
  • When the chicken has turned golden, stir it around so that it can brown on all sides. Throw in the ginger and stir to combine.
  • While the pan is still hot, pour in the broth. Stir it around, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen all the flavorful bits.
  • Turn the heat to medium-low and pour in the sauce mixture, then mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water to make a slurry and pour it in.
  • Stir the sauce for 1 to 2 minutes to thicken, then add the water chestnuts and cashews and stir to coat everything with the sauce, adding a splash of water if the sauce is too thick.
  • Mix with cooked rice if desired.
Can Dogs Eat Chestnuts? Are Chestnuts Healthy Or Toxic To Dogs? 6

Sausage, Chestnut & Apple Stuffing

The Rachael Ray Staff
Prep Time 10 mins
Bake Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 10

Ingredients
  

  • 6 tbsp Butter
  • 2 medium Apples peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 small Celery with leafy tops finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Lemon or orange zest
  • 1 lb Pork or turkey sausage
  • 3 cups Homemade toasted bread stuffing
  • Turkey or chicken stock
  • 1 cup Chestnuts (roast or jarred) chopped

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Melt butter in a skillet; add apple, celery and onion. Season with salt, pepper and cook until tender, 10 minutes or so.
  • Add sausage and lightly brown–do not cook sausage until dry. Stir in stuffing, and moisten with stock, adding just enough to make bread damp but not wet.
  • Stir in chestnuts, transfer to a casserole dish and bake for 35–40 minutes. 
  • Cool down before serving.
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