A white Elmhurst dog licking peanut butter off of its mouth.

A handful of salty cashews. A piece of toasted sourdough smeared with a thick slab of peanut butter. Sweet, slightly spicy candied walnuts in the holiday snack bowl. Have we made you hungry yet?

Indeed, nuts are a ubiquitous, delicious, and (mostly) nutritious part of life for many of us, and it’s understandable to want to slip your sweet, begging pooch a tasty morsel or two. But can dogs eat nuts?

Can Dogs Eat Nuts?

Let’s face it, most dogs eat nuts along with any other food item that happens to fall on the floor or be offered by human hands. Fortunately nuts are, for the most part, safe enough for dogs, but that doesn’t mean they should be eaten on a regular basis. Nuts are high in fat and calories, and can lead to weight gain, pancreatitis, and other complications.

The occasional nut tossed your dog’s way is probably fine, but there are certain nuts that should be avoided, including:

  • Macadamia nuts – These nuts are toxic to dogs and can cause weakness, vomiting, and/or tremors if ingested.
  • Chocolate covered nuts – All chocolate is toxic to dogs.
  • Salted nuts – Just like with humans, too much salt can cause water retention and bloating in dogs. 
  • Candied nuts – Sugary, candy coating adds too many extra calories and no nutritional value. Sugar-free candy coating may contain Xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs.
  • Whole nuts – Larger nuts such as almonds or walnuts can pose a choking hazard if eaten in whole form.
  • Unshelled nuts – Nut shells can cause serious problems for dogs. Nut shells are indigestible, and eating too many can lead to intestinal blockage (a serious emergency requiring surgery to repair). Hard shells such as pistachios can splinter, causing lacerations to the mouth, throat, and digestive tract.

What About Nut Butters?

Nut butters are safe for dogs in general, but like nuts they add a lot of calories to a dog’s diet and should be used sparingly. A little peanut butter smeared inside a Kong or other toy is a safe and yummy option (peanuts are in the legume family which is safe for dogs), just make sure to avoid peanut butter sweetened with Xylitol. 

Alternatives to Nuts

Although most nuts are safe for dogs, there are plenty of healthier, lower-calorie options to choose from for an occasional treat. Many dogs enjoy steamed, plain veggies like green beans, pumpkin, and cauliflower. Berries, apples, bananas, and other fresh fruits make great treats as well, although these tend to be higher in calories due to the sugar content. 

Elmhurst Dog Veterinarians


If you have any further questions regarding dogs and nuts or other people food, The Pet Experts are here for you! Contact our dog veterinarians at Elmhurst Animal Care Center for more information, or to schedule an appointment for your furry friend.