Pecans are a delicious treat used in many common human foods, from indulgent pecan pie to healthy breakfast muesli, but can you share pecans with your dog? Are pecans safe for dogs? The answer is no. While the odd pecan or two hastily scooped up off the floor by an observant pooch is unlikely to do any harm, too many can be toxic for dogs.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the reasons that they are potentially harmful and what to do if your dog does eat pecans.
What exactly are pecans?
Pecans are native to northern Mexico and the southern United States and are a species of hickory tree. Pecans are one of the most recently domesticated crops, and the southern U.S. and Mexico produce almost half the world’s total. While pecans are commonly referred to as “nuts,” they are actually a type of drupe, a fruit with a single pit surrounded by a husk. They are popular among health enthusiasts due to their antioxidant benefits, healthy fats, and fiber content.
Why shouldn’t your dog eat pecans?
One of the main reasons you should keep pecans away from your pooch is that they, along with walnuts, contain a toxin known as juglone. According to a 2016 study, this toxin caused some significant physical distress for the dogs involved. Even though the study was conducted with walnuts, pecans also contain this toxin, so your pooch will likely have similar symptoms if they ingest them.
Pecans are also susceptible to a mold that contains aflatoxins and other tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can have serious side effects on canines. It is known to cause tremors, seizures, fever, and even liver failure in high doses. Dogs can have these symptoms for up to a week, and in serious cases, it can be fatal.
Pecans are also fairly large and may cause gastrointestinal blockages when swallowed, especially in smaller breeds. The hard husks can damage your dog’s gums and palate if they are chewed on whole, and prepackaged pecans may contain salt or other spices that can cause further gastrointestinal upset.
What to do if your dog has eaten pecans
While pecans can be dangerous, if your dog has accidentally ingested a few, there is usually no reason to panic. If they managed to eat a handful or more, they may show symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, but this doesn’t usually last long. Of course, this depends on your dog and on the number of pecans they’ve eaten, and symptoms may be more severe. If these symptoms worsen or do not stop, you’ll need to take your pooch to the vet immediately, as this can be fatal.
Unless your dog eats a large number of pecans, which is unlikely, they will usually be perfectly fine. If they are displaying any mild symptoms, you may consider giving them activated charcoal and plenty of fresh water. Even if you do need to make a trip to the vet, most dogs recover fully from ingesting pecans.
Are there any benefits?
Pecans are loaded with healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are highly beneficial for both dogs and humans. This is why your dog is likely to eat them, in addition to the irresistibly sweet, nutty flavor! The issue is that your dog would have to eat a high number of pecans to gain any real benefits from them, and eating this many is likely to put them at risk for health issues. Plus, they can easily get these beneficial nutrients from a healthy balanced diet.
Are there any nuts safe for dogs?
Most vets advise against giving your dog any nuts at all, as they are often salted or flavored and pose the risk of intestinal blockages if consumed whole. That said, peanuts, almonds, and cashews are generally considered safe for dogs in small amounts.
Macadamia nuts, black walnuts, brazil nuts, and pistachios are all considered harmful for dogs.
Pecan nuts may be a tasty treat for humans, but they should never be given to your pooch, even in small amounts. If your dog manages to find a few pecans lying on the floor, though, there is usually no reason to panic. Just keep an eye on them, and watch for any symptoms, like nausea or vomiting. If these symptoms are present but mild, activated charcoal may do the trick, though if they persist, a trip to the vet may be necessary. Even so, it is rare that a dog would consume enough pecans to cause a fatal reaction, and most of the time, your pooch will be just fine!
Featured Image Credit: tseiu, Pixabay