Walnut is among the most popular nuts in the US and other countries, and it’s easy to see why. Apart from its irresistible nutty taste, it also packs a punch nutrition-wise.
And this is why dog owners can’t help but assume that walnuts are good for dogs. The question is: can dogs eat walnuts? Are walnuts safe for dogs?
Although walnuts make an excellent snack for humans, the same cannot be said for dogs. Unfortunately, not all human foods are considered safe in the canine world. In fact, some are considered toxic to dogs.
If you wish to know the real deal behind walnut and its effects on your dog’s health, read on. We’re here to do that and more.
What You Need To Know About Walnuts
While many are aware that peanuts are not true nuts, others are left in the blue when it comes to other so-called nuts like walnuts. Unlike hazelnuts and chestnuts, walnuts are single-seeded drupes or stone fruits – much like pecans, peaches, and cherries.
From the plant genus Juglans, the walnut is the edible seed from the walnut tree that we love eating plain or candied. It also tastes great with salads and various baked goods like pies and bread.
Interestingly, this has been around for ages. Fact is, its existence has been known since 7000 BC, making this the oldest tree food in human knowledge. It’s also known for its fantastic health benefits.
Common Types Of Walnuts
There are over a dozen walnut species. However, the most common types are Persian or English walnuts and black walnut.
English walnuts, aka “Juglans regia,” were first discovered near the Caspian Sea in India. Among all the types, this is the most ubiquitous. It is a smooth, off-white-colored nut enclosed in a thin, knobbly shell. Often roasted, many enjoy its mild earthy taste.
On the other hand, the black walnut, aka “Juglans nigra,” is less common. Unlike the English walnut, black walnuts have a thick shell with sharp edges and a nut that has a darker color. Like the English nut, this one is also edible and can be used for various dishes. However, this one has a strong odor and flavor.
Walnut Nutrition Facts
Walnut contains 65% healthy fats, and it is also low in carbs and high in protein – at least 15%. Besides that, it also includes a couple of nutrients, making this a healthy food option that’s great for cancer prevention and heart and brain health. Here are some of the vitamins and minerals you can get from eating walnuts.
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Can Dogs Eat Walnuts?
The short answer here is IT DEPENDS.
Unlike macadamia nuts which are toxic to dogs, most walnuts – the English walnuts, in particular – are considered safe for dogs to eat in moderation or as an occasional treat. So, there’s no need to panic if your dogs eat a few pieces of fresh walnuts.
However, this does not mean that you can let your dogs gobble down on a bowl-full of walnuts or add this to your dog’s diet regularly. If you wish to find out what your dogs can get out of eating walnuts, you’ll find everything you want to know down below.
Are Walnuts Good For Your Dog?
Despite its incredible nutritional benefits, walnuts are better left as an occasional snack for dogs. Unfortunately, it’s the type of people food that offers more risks than health benefits.
Possible Dangers Of Feeding Walnut To Dogs
As mentioned, letting your dogs eat walnuts comes with risks. Like any food (the healthy ones included), there are limits to how much your dogs can have. Apart from that, there’s also a proper way to feed dogs walnuts. Doing the opposite can only lead to the following:
Choking Hazard & Intestinal Obstruction
Most dogs will eat everything they’re given, even walnuts with the shell still intact. Unfortunately, the teeth of your dog are not engineered for grinding and chewing food. So if your dogs somehow manage to get their paws on a whole walnut, expect trouble. This is especially true if you have a small breed dog.
Given the large size of the walnut and its hard shell, swallowing the big walnut pieces or ingesting it whole can result in blockage in the airways or your dog’s digestive system. This can lead to choking or intestinal obstruction. Both can be deadly, so contacting your vet immediately is a must if this happens to your dog.
Foods with high-fat content do not jive well with your dog’s tummy (regardless of whether it’s healthy fat). And so, giving your dog high-fat foods like nuts can result in an upset stomach and other digestive problems like diarrhea and vomiting.
Although uncommon, your dog can also be allergic to walnuts and other nuts. So watch out for signs of allergy when your dog eats walnuts. Its symptoms include itching, difficulty breathing, an upset stomach, and vomiting.
While healthy fats can help humans trim their tummies, overeating nuts can still lead to an increase in weight or obesity. The same applies to your dog.
Besides gaining weight, eating too much foods with high-fat content also increases your dogs’ chances of getting pancreatitis. Characterized by the inflammation of the pancreas, it’s a painful condition you don’t want your pet dog to experience.
Yes, you read it right. Your poor dog can also get poisoned if your dog eats the wrong kind of walnuts. This is because walnuts may contain the following:
Juglone is an organic compound found in all walnut trees – their leaves, branches, fruits, and roots. However, black walnuts contain high concentrations of this compound. Ingesting this can cause GI upset in dogs.
As mentioned, English walnuts are generally safe to eat. However, black walnuts, especially moldy walnuts, are toxic to dogs. Black nuts are prone to black molds, which produce mycotoxins.
If you have a walnut tree, make sure to keep your dogs away from it. On the other hand, if your dog eats black walnuts or has eaten moldy walnuts or a moldy walnut husk, your dog might experience seizures and tremors.
Other symptoms you need to keep an eye on if your dog has eaten moldy walnuts include the following:
- Excessive salivation
May Contain Other Harmful Ingredients
Some store-bought walnuts can contain ingredients that can do more harm than good to your dog’s health. This includes salt, sugar, and other artificial sweeteners.
Tips On How to Feed Your Dog Walnuts
In case you just want to give your dog a bite of walnut, make sure to do the following to avoid any emergency visits to the vet:
- Only give fresh English walnuts and keep the black and moldy walnuts away from your dog.
- Check the labels and make sure to only feed your dog plain, unsalted walnuts
- Always serve small quantities and do this sparingly.
- Get rid of the shell and cut it into bite-sized pieces
Are walnuts safe for your dog? Yes. The fact is, many dogs enjoy it.
However, they’re not the best snack around, given all the possible side effects your dog can get from eating walnuts, especially the moldy walnuts.
Moldy walnuts or not, walnuts provide low nutritional value for your dogs. As always, it’s best to err on the side of caution. So, if you wish to give your reward your dog with a treat, choose something healthy like carrots, apples, blueberries, and watermelon.