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Can Dogs Eat Macadamia Nuts? Risks & Safety Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Dogs should not eat macadamia nuts. They are known to be toxic to dogs and can cause a great deal of damage if ingested.

Many people like to consume these nuts as healthy snacks. If you are a baker, especially around the holidays, macadamia nuts are a common addition to cakes, cookies, and other tasty treats.

However, your dog needs to avoid any accidental ingestion of these nuts. Store them in an area where your pup can’t access them. Be aware of symptoms related to poisoning, so you are prepared.

Even if you don’t keep macadamia nuts in the house, you should have a list of emergency numbers ready. Include your veterinarian’s number and animal poison control. If your vet has an emergency extension for out-of-office hours, include this as well.

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Macadamia Nut Toxin

Currently, we are not aware of what makes macadamia nuts toxic to dogs, and not all dogs share the same symptoms from the poisoning.

Sensitivities to the nut vary from pup to pup. Some have quite violent reactions that are immediate, and others exhibit their symptoms more quietly and painfully.

The amount that dogs can ingest before displaying the symptoms varies between different sizes, breeds, and dog to dog. They can be afflicted after eating as small as 1/10 of an ounce per 2 pounds of weight. Even a little taste can be detrimental.

Macadamia nuts on a table
Image Credit: Wow_Pho, Pixabay

Symptoms of Poisoning from Macadamia Nuts in Dogs

There are varying symptoms. One of the most common is weakness, especially of the hind legs. They may seem more unstable or shaky when trying to get up, walk, or run around.

Other symptoms from macadamia nut poisoning in dogs include:

  • Shaking
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Ataxia (staggering, sometimes related to weakness)
  • Blood changes
  • Hyperthermia
  • Increased rate of breathing
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pale mucous membranes

If low doses of the nut are ingested compared to their size, they might resolve themselves within 12 to 48 hours. You still must call a veterinarian as soon as possible after discovering that they ate the nuts. Clinical signs typically appear within those first 12 hours, if not immediately afterward.

Treatment of Poisoning from Macadamia Nuts in Dogs

a sick beagle dog lying on the floor
Image Credit: Elena Loza, Shutterstock

The very first step needs to be to call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Their number is (888) 426-4435. They can advise you further or ask you to come in.

If they eat more, a vet must induce vomiting to rid their toxin system. They might want to keep them in the office in extreme cases. Otherwise, they will recommend careful at-home observation.

They may recommend treatment with activated charcoal or cathartic, gastric decontamination to get the nuts speedily through your dog’s digestive system. The more severe cases may involve more aggressive treatments.

To help your dog through this, a vet often prescribes anti-nausea medication and something to help their pain or muscle relaxants. If they are in any respiratory distress, oxygen might be needed.

All that said, don’t worry. If your dog gets treated, the poisoning doesn’t typically cause long-term problems. They will often recover fully within several days.

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Other Poisonous Nuts

Most dog owners are well aware of their dog’s love of peanut butter. It might, therefore, come as a surprise to learn that most nuts don’t fall into the same category as a tasty treat. Beyond macadamia nuts, there are a few more nuts to watch out for if ingested.

English Walnuts

A bag of walnuts on a table
Image Credit: LubosHouska, Pixabay

The entire walnut plant is toxic for dogs. They cannot ingest the leaves, branches, stems, or nut of the walnut. The toxin it contains, called juglone, was discovered in the 20th century and creates symptoms such as anaphylactic shock. Watch out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Increased drinking
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased urination
  • Lethargy
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Jaundice
  • Anemia
  • Seizures
  • Weakness

Horse Chestnuts

Horse chestnuts
Image Credit: Nataliia Melnychuk, Shutterstock

Horse chestnut is an effective herbal remedy for humans, treating fevers and hemorrhoids. However, the bark is toxic for a dog, as well as the flowers and leaves. If your dog starts to exhibit any of these symptoms, you should contact a vet immediately:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Salivation


  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Renal damage
  • Lupus-like Syndrome


Gingko Nuts

Gingko is one of the oldest living species of plants, sometimes called the dinosaur tree. It has been used as an herbal treatment for thousands of years. The tree’s seeds and leaves have a high toxic level, with the seeds having more concentrated amounts. Keep an eye out for these symptoms in your dog if you live near ginkgo trees:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Clotting problems

Almond Nuts

Can Dogs Eat Almond Butter
Image Credit: stevepb, Pixabay

Almonds do not contain as high a level of toxins as some other nuts, but they are still not easy to digest. Eaten in large amounts, they can cause gastrointestinal issues and some pain. If these persist, you may need to take your dog to the veterinarian.

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gas

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In Summary

Childproofing a home for having kids around the house is a common practice. Sometimes, though, we can forget that our dogs need just as much protection. If you are ready to go on a baking spree or are interested in an exotic snack, make sure to keep the macadamia nuts out of their reach.

If you do notice any symptoms, monitor them carefully. Look for evidence of nut consumption and have emergency numbers ready.

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons

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