Many of my posts in recent times have looked at foods. More specifically, I’ve looked at foods dogs might eat as a consequence of living with humans. With pecan pie being a favourite in many households, dogs often come into contact with pecan nuts. So, are pecans safe for dogs? Should you be worried? Can dogs eat pecans?
The quick answer is… no, dogs should not eat pecans. Pecan nuts are potentially harmful to dogs and should never be given to them as a treat.
In this post I’ll explain why pecans are bad for dogs and what to do if your dog accidentally eats some.
Table of Contents
- What Are Pecans?
- Can Dogs Eat Pecans?
- Why Are Pecans Bad For Dogs?
- What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Pecans?
- Summary – Can Dogs Eat Pecans?
- Related Posts
What Are Pecans?
Pecans are a variety of tree nuts that come from a species of hickory called Carya Illinoinensis, which is a tree native to the US and Mexico.
With a resemblance to walnuts (a bit like an elongated human brain!), pecan nuts are highly prized for their sweet, rich and buttery flavour. As a consequence, they are a staple of many food recipes, but perhaps most famously as the major ingredient of the savoury / sweet pecan pie.
Since pecans are an extremely popular nut and pecan pie is something that many people enjoy, it’s not at all uncommon for dogs to come into contact with them. However, pecans are bad for dogs and so it’s important to keep them out of reach.
Can Dogs Eat Pecans?
No, dogs can’t eat pecans. To be honest this shouldn’t come as a shock, since all nuts fall into the category of foods dogs should never eat.
Pecans offer a variety of nutritional benefits to us humans such as fibre, protein, important vitamins and healthy fats. They make a great pie! However, for dogs to gain any nutritional benefit from eating pecan nuts, they would need to eat an amount that would be potentially fatal.
Pecans are bad for dogs… in fact extremely so.
So while one or two pecan nuts probably won’t cause death, they could still make your dog very unwell, especially if it’s a small breed.
Why Are Pecans Bad for Dogs?
There are several reasons why pecans are so bad for dogs.
Firstly, all parts of the pecan (the shell and nut) contain a toxin called juglone: a compound that’s found in other varieties of nut including walnuts.
The purpose of juglone is to enable the pecan tree to thrive at the expense of surrounding plants. Pecan trees produce juglone to interfere with the growth of other plants, so as to “ring fence” nutrients that might otherwise be unavailable to them.
Unfortunately, juglone is toxic to dogs and can cause illness shortly after consumption. Symptoms of pecan toxicity in dogs will likely be:
- Stomach cramps
- Severe vomiting
Even more dangerous is the risk posed by a compound called aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a type of toxin produced by a variety of mould called Aspergillus Flavus, which grows on certain foods… pecans being one of them.
If a dog eats pecans that have the Aspergillus Flavus mould, it may become gravely ill with a condition called aflatoxicosis. Aflatoxicosis can be very serious for dogs, and can lead to the following symptoms in dogs:
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice and liver damage
Finally, pecan nuts are high in healthy fat and oils. Care must be taken not to overfeed fat to dogs as too much over a sustained period can lead to a inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
The symptoms of pancreatitis can be mild or extreme and require veterinary attention. Symptoms can be:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Weight loss
If you suspect your dog has pancreatitis you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Pecans?
Although one or two pecan nuts will most likely not be fatal, they could make your dog very unwell. So, if your dog eats any amount of pecan nuts, it’s best not to take any risks so you should contact a veterinarian immediately and take advice.
A veterinarian will likely want to see your dog to make a proper medical assessment in order to determine the best course of action. Such action will depend upon the amount of pecans your dog has eaten and the symptoms it has as a consequence.
Summary – Can Dogs Eat Pecans?
In case you’ve skim read to the bottom and haven’t yet seen the answer to this… no, dogs can’t eat pecans.
Although seemingly innocuous, pecans can be extremely toxic to dogs and so you should absolutely never give them as a treat.
Furthermore, like all nuts, pecans are high in fats… too much fat in a dog’s diet can lead to a range of medical problems.
If you regularly have pecans at home or are partial to pecan pie, the best policy is to make sure your dog can’t get to them. However, if your dog manages to eat pecans when your back is turned, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Has your dog eaten pecans by accident? Or do you have a question about pecan toxicity in dogs? Please leave a comment or question in the section at the foot of this page.
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