Can Dogs Eat That

Can Dogs Eat Walnuts? Everything You Need to Know

can dogs eat walnuts

The short answer is: it depends. Certain varieties of walnuts are safer for dogs to consume, but overall, walnuts aren’t the best choice as a treat for our furry friends. While a single accidental walnut ingestion might not be cause for alarm, intentionally giving them walnuts regularly isn’t advisable.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the potential risks and benefits of feeding walnuts to dogs, as well as provide you with essential information to keep your pup safe and healthy.

Let’s dive in.

The Risks of Feeding Walnuts to Dogs

1. Mold Toxicity

One of the primary concerns when it comes to feeding walnuts to dogs is the potential for mold contamination. Walnuts are susceptible to a type of black mold that can produce toxins called mycotoxins. These mycotoxins can be extremely toxic to dogs and can cause serious health issues.

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Some fungi that grow on walnuts produce carcinogenic metabolites, while others produce tremorgenic mycotoxins that can lead to tremors and seizures in dogs. This risk is particularly high with walnuts gathered from backyard trees or those found on the ground, as they are more likely to be contaminated with mold.

medium short coated white dog on white

2. Intestinal Obstruction

Given their size, walnuts can present a choking hazard, particularly for smaller breeds. Additionally, they are difficult to digest, which increases the risk of intestinal obstruction. If a dog ingests a walnut still in its shell, the chances of an obstruction are even higher, which can be life-threatening if not addressed promptly.

a walnuts on a wooden table

3. Upset Stomach and Pancreatitis

Walnuts are high in fat, and consuming large quantities can lead to an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea in dogs. In more severe cases, the high-fat content of walnuts can potentially trigger pancreatitis, a painful and potentially life-threatening condition.

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4. Toxic Varieties

While English walnuts (the type typically found in grocery stores) are considered the safest option for dogs, it’s essential to avoid feeding them black walnuts. Black walnuts, native to the Northeastern United States and Canada, are particularly toxic to dogs and can cause severe reactions, including tremors and seizures.


The Benefits of Feeding Walnuts to Dogs (in Moderation)

Despite the potential risks, walnuts do offer some nutritional benefits for dogs when consumed in moderation. They are a good source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, including omega-3 fatty acids, which can promote healthy skin and coat.

However, it’s crucial to remember that dogs have unique nutritional requirements distinct from humans, and their diets should primarily consist of high-quality, balanced dog food. Treats, including walnuts, should only make up a small percentage of their overall calorie intake.

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Safe Alternatives to Walnuts

If you’re looking for healthier and safer treat options for your dog, consider the following alternatives:

1. Unsalted Peanut Butter (with no added sugar or xylitol)

2. Fresh fruits and vegetables (like bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, apples, and blackberries)

3. Cooked, unsalted meat (without bones or sauces)

4. Commercial dog treats (always check the ingredients for potential allergens)

fresh bell peppers on beige surface

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Walnuts

If your dog accidentally ingests a walnut or two from a bag you’ve purchased at the grocery store, there’s probably no need to panic. However, if your dog consumes moldy walnuts, black walnuts, or a significant amount of any type of walnut, it’s essential to monitor them closely for signs of distress, such as vomiting, tremors, or seizures.

If you notice any worrisome symptoms, reach out to your veterinarian immediately, as prompt treatment may be necessary to prevent serious complications.

medium shot smiley people cute dog

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe Around Walnuts

1. Store walnuts securely: Keep walnut products in airtight containers and out of reach of your curious pup.

2. Supervise during snack time: If you’re enjoying walnuts as a snack, ensure your dog doesn’t have access to them.

3. Clean up spills promptly: Quickly clean up any dropped or spilled walnuts to prevent accidental ingestion.

walnut in clear glass jar

4. Avoid walnut trees: If you have a walnut tree in your yard or neighborhood, be extra vigilant to prevent your dog from eating fallen nuts or hulls.

5. Provide appropriate chew toys: To satisfy your dog’s natural chewing instinct, offer safe and durable chew toys specifically designed for dogs.


1. Can dogs eat black walnuts?

Black walnuts are a definite no-no for your canine companion. These nuts get their name from a black mold that can be difficult to see and is extremely poisonous to dogs. Ingestion can lead to serious reactions, including tremors and seizures.

2. Can dogs eat English walnuts? 

Technically speaking, yes, dogs can eat English walnuts. These are the types of walnuts most commonly used for cooking and are considered the safest variety for dogs. However, English walnuts are still high in fat and calories, so they are not an ideal treat option for dogs.

3. Can dogs eat walnut shells? 

Absolutely not! Walnut shells are a major choking hazard for dogs and can cause serious problems. If swallowed, they can become lodged in your dog’s intestines, leading to a blockage that might require surgery. This is especially risky for small dogs.

4. Can dogs eat walnut oil? 

Yes, dogs can eat walnut oil in moderation. However, it’s important to be mindful of the calories and adjust your dog’s daily food intake accordingly. Walnut oil is often used in both dry and wet dog food formulas.

5. Can dogs eat walnut cookies? 

Technically speaking, yes, dogs can eat walnut cookies as they are likely to contain only a minimal amount of walnuts. However, cookies often contain a lot of sugar and butter, both of which are unhealthy for dogs. There are better treat options for dogs than walnut cookies.

6. What are some other good treats to give my dog? 

If you prefer to feed your dog treats that you could also enjoy yourself, some healthy options include small bits of cooked, unsalted meat without sauce, and small pieces of unseasoned fruits or vegetables without added seasoning or flavors.

Final Words

While walnuts can offer some nutritional benefits for dogs in small quantities, the potential risks associated with mold toxicity, intestinal obstruction, and pancreatitis make them a less-than-ideal treat option.

smiling female with dog near fence and plants

Looking for more information? We have a wealth of articles exploring safe, dangerous, and toxic foods for dogs. Discover which “human foods” are healthy for your furry friend and learn the limitations of their digestive system.


About Judith D. Swan

With a passion for pooch health and nutrition, I've dedicated myself to exploring every "Can dogs eat...?" scenario you can imagine. With a background in veterinary science and years of experience in the pet care industry, I bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. From the common to the curious, I've researched it all to ensure that your canine companion gets the best possible care. But hey, I'm not just about facts and figures. As a proud dog parent myself, I understand the bond between humans and their four-legged pals. That's why I'm committed to providing trustworthy, practical advice that keeps both tails wagging.