Before giving any dog food, most owners are going to research what is safe and what is not. Nuts, as well as seeds, are notorious in human diets as being potentially risky in some situations for certain people. The same is true for dogs, which is why researching beforehand is necessary.
In this article, we take a look at the nuts and seeds that are the best snacks for dogs overall. Some people will initially be shocked by recommendations on what needs avoiding, but it is essential to remember that dogs react differently than foods, compared to humans. They are some foods that treat both bodies the same, while others are vastly different.
Nuts for dogs
There are so many different variations of nuts out there, and it is impossible to keep track of them all. Most humans find out pretty early on in their life whether they have a nut allergy or not, and everyone else can primarily see benefits from moderate consumption.
What nuts can dogs eat?
The nuts listed below are all reliable options for people who have dogs that like the overall taste. These are the safest nuts for them, and they should be able to have them in relative moderation. Remember that no nuts are typically a part of a healthy dog diet every single day, so even these options should not become a daily habit.
Peanuts are available in many different varieties, but the best ones for dogs are peeled, unsalted, and rather bland overall. It might not seem that tasty to humans, but dogs are going to eat them up.
The benefits of peanuts are that they have healthy fats, a lot of protein, and some essential vitamins for dogs. However, high fat can cause an issue if a dog consumes a lot of peanuts at once. That is why experts recommend that owners keep it as a snack more than anything for their dogs. Maybe a spoonful of peanuts is enough to give them a taste, but never give them access to a jar or bowl.
Along with peanuts is, of course, peanut butter, and dogs can’t get enough of this snack when they have the opportunity. Try to keep it relatively simple when using peanut butter, and even making it specifically for the dog for the healthiest consumption. Too many store options are full of artificial preservatives, a lot of salt, added oil, and other problematic ingredients. When a person has the opportunity to make their own peanut butter, they control what ingredients ultimately go into it.
The only real issue with chestnuts for dogs is that they have a lot of fat in them, just like every other nut out there. However, it is relatively safe for dogs to consume as a snack, and they seem to like them quite a bit. Roasting them is probably the best option, although some people will make it into a purée that they can give to the dog as well.
Chestnuts are not the most popular nut options out there, but that does not mean it is not worth having them around the home if needed. Dogs can usually consume a decent amount of chestnuts without having any issues whatsoever.
What nuts should dogs only eat occasionally?
Nuts that fall in this category should still be an option for dogs occasionally, but only during special times. It is not the end of the world if they consume them, but there might be some complications depending on the dog. Most people will only let them have a small taste if their dog is begging for the option.
Almonds are a pretty healthy nut option out there for anyone to consume, and it is free of any true toxins for dogs. For some reason, they have a relatively hard time consuming almonds in any form. Maybe it is because they are a bit on the larger side, or perhaps the harder ones are just a little challenging for them to break up properly before swallowing.
If a person wants to try giving the dog a few almonds, it is perfectly fine to go that way. Just be aware of any issues in the stomach shortly after. If they are vomiting or suffering from diarrhea, it is pretty easy to identify the almonds as the issue.
Make sure that the almonds are completely free of any coating before giving them to a dog. Some almonds come prepared with salt or flavoring already on them, so take off as much as possible before giving it to a dog.
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The cashew is another very healthy nut, and it is a little smaller than an almond to cut down on risks for dogs as well. They just need to be roasted or baked, because raw cashew is not going to work for most.
Believe it or not, there is a unique type of toxin that affects dogs in cashews that people do need to keep in mind. It causes a similar reaction for dogs that humans go through with poison ivy, so this is one nut that can’t be served raw.
Another issue with cashews that is a bit unique to dogs is that they have a lot of potassium in them. It might not seem like a bad thing when viewing it from a human perspective, but dogs can’t have too much potassium, or they will be more likely to deal with urinary issues.
Letting them sneak a few cashews is fine, but a lot of owners start to believe that it is more trouble than it is worth. There are a few nuts with fewer complications, so going in that route might be better overall.
With hazelnut and hazelnut spread so closely connected to chocolate, a lot of people are under the impression that dogs should stay away from them at all costs. That is not precisely the case, although some will still take those precautions anyway. As long as they are left unsalted and free of any other type of coating, hazelnuts are perfectly fine for all kinds of dogs. They just need to have them broken up for them.
If hazelnuts are left as they usually come whole, it can be a significant choking hazard for all types of dogs. They tend to get a taste of something they like, and swallow things whole instead of chewing as they should. If the right size hazelnut gets consumed, it can get stuck in the dog and cause some pretty serious health issues.
If they enjoy the taste of hazelnuts, try grounding them up or coming up with some other solution for the dog. They will ultimately appreciate not having to deal with any type of severe choking issue.
They are not the absolute worst nuts for dogs, but they just do not serve any type of real purpose overall. Made of corn, most dogs already get these nutrients from the fillers used in different kinds of dog food. Even though dogs might like to taste, it does not make that much sense to eat a lot of corn nuts.
Corn nuts indeed have a decent amount of fiber, but a dog can get their fiber from other sources as well if they need it. Let them try a few corn nuts if they want to, but make sure to keep it at a limit.
What nuts should dogs avoid?
Finally, some nuts are entirely off-limits for dogs. These are the ones to remember the most because they can go through some serious issues if there is any sort of negligence. Try to make sure that to store these nuts in a safe place that a dog can’t access around the home. Some dog owners will even go as far as removing these nuts from their kitchen altogether.
Not only are walnuts bad for dogs, but they really should not be fed to any type of pets out there. They are not only big enough to cause a lot of intestinal issues if everything gets lodged, but they are full of toxins that affect the dogs. That is especially true if they are raw and have even a little bit of mold on them.
If a walnut grows mold, it is going to have a fungus called tremorgenic mycotoxins. Dogs can start to have some pretty severe neurological issues if they consume enough of the toxin. It is something that starts to develop pretty quickly, so owners only have a small period of time if something seems odd with their dog’s behavior.
From English to black walnuts, it is just not worth even dabbling in this nut option for dogs. Do not let them establish any type of taste for these, and keep them well stored in high placed.
Dogs might technically be fine having a few unsalted pistachios that have a shell already removed, but it is just not worth running that risk. People need to consider that these nuts might have aspergillus mold on them, which can cause a lot of damage to a dog’s liver. Not all pistachios are going to have these issues, obviously, but the mold can be pretty small and virtually unnoticeable at times.
Another issue with pistachios is that they often come in shells that are nearly impossible for dogs to figure out. They are hard and very prone to getting stuck in the wrong areas, which could cause severe issues for dogs eating a little too fast.
There are plenty of people who regularly snack on pistachios, but they need to take precautions when being around dogs. Dogs feel tempted to give them a try, but they are high-risk as far as nuts go.
Pine nuts are not only pretty high in fat, but the phosphorus in them is what a lot of owners try to keep their dogs away from as much as possible. Even a few nuts can cause some pretty big issues in the dog’s stomach, so it is not worth the hassle of letting them indulge in a few.
If the fats and phosphorus become too much of an issue, it can start to wear on a dog to the point they might develop something a little more severe. From pancreatitis to urinary tract infections, it is scary to see a dog have to deal with any of this. There are better alternatives to pine nuts, so it just does not make sense to even mess with them.
Some humans love snacking on Brazil nuts, but they should stay far away from dogs. They do not contain any toxins that affect dogs, but they have some of the highest fat concentration out there. That translates to a lot of potential issues for those dogs are already have issues processing fats.
Since there are healthy options out there that are less likely to cause issues, it just does not make sense even to try Brazil nuts. If they enjoy the taste, look for an alternative, and go from there.
These are not extremely common in most homes, but they are unsafe, mostly because of containing juglone. This toxin is not picked up by humans because it is so small, but dogs run a pretty serious risk of hurting themselves by consuming too many hickory nuts.
It is best to just avoid eating these altogether, as there are tastier options anyway for dogs to try out. Hickory nuts do not provide any type of benefits not found in alternatives, making them a non-starter as far as dog diets are concerned.
Pecans are another nut that contains juglone, which is a pretty serious risk right from the beginning. To make matters worse, pecans are rather large nuts when raw, so dogs trying to eat them whole might run into some issues as they attempt to process everything in their stomach. It just takes one perfectly size pecan to cause a serious choking hazard.
Known for being on the higher side of total fats, pecans just have too many issues for people to even think about giving them to their dogs. It is a challenge for people to keep these tucked away safely since they are popular with humans, but most feel it is worth putting in the effort.
Dogs can suffer from some pretty severe issues if they consume macadamia nuts. AVOID MACADAMIA NUTS AROUND DOGS AT ALL COSTS. If they do come in contact with them and consume them, contact veterinarian services right away for recommendations on the next steps.
Experts still do not know exactly why dogs should avoid these nuts, but there are enough instances of health issues to make that a common refrain out there. It is a bit mysterious, much like raisins, but one that a lot of people are still researching for some sort of clue.
If they do consume macadamia nuts, pay close attention to how they start to act. If there is any sign of weakness, it very well could be tied to those nuts. They are also likely to start vomiting and dealing with diarrhea issues if they have enough in their system.
Even one or two macadamia nuts can be a huge issue for dogs. There are some ways veterinarians can help out if they have consumed one of these nights, but a person must ask quickly if that is the case.
Seeds for dogs
Nuts are generally problematic, but seeds are a little better overall for dogs. Not only are the vast majority of seeds much less of a choking risk, but they do not have nearly as many toxins that could potentially put them in harm’s way.
With all that said, it is still important to know which options are beneficial, which ones are fine in moderation, and which ones need not to make an appearance. This is a breakdown of some of the more popular seed options out there.
What seeds can dogs eat?
These are the seeds dog owners should have no problem letting their pet snack on. They are going to be meal replacements or anything like that, but having a decent amount can act as a snack or a reward.
Adding Chia seeds to a dog’s diet might be the best move for an owner out there. It is virtually the perfect seed, as it provides dogs with protein, calcium, and just the right amount of fatty acids to help them out instead of putting them in harm’s way. When used in moderation, chia seeds are going to be a great snack by itself, or something to add to an already established meal.
There are numerous snack options out there for dog owners to try out that use Chia seeds as an ingredient. Most dogs respond very well to Chia seeds, so it will not be the toughest thing in the world to force them to consume some.
Another seed that has plenty of Omega-3 essential fatty acid in it is flaxseed. As a bonus, it is also very high in fiber. It is an excellent addition to a lot of different meal options for dogs, and it is pretty easy to store as well.
Some veterinarians will even recommend using flaxseed if a dog is dealing with a shortage of magnesium in their body. It also provides vitamins that are never a bad thing, and there is nothing bad overall with flax seed or flaxseed oil.
The first two options are more of an add-on than anything else, but pumpkin seeds can work as a snack all by themselves. They are best for a dog if they are either roasted or fresh, and they do not need anything else added to them for a delicious treat.
What pumpkin seeds provide is a good source of fiber and healthy fats like some of the other seeds out there, but also a right amount of potassium, iron, and zinc. The flexibility of pumpkin seeds is also something to consider, as it serves as a snack itself, or part of a more substantial meal. They are pretty easy to prepare and even ground up to mix in with something else.
Dogs in need of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids will benefit greatly from hemp seed, as well as hemp seed oil. It can be extremely beneficial in helping a dog look healthier, as it boosts their coat and their skin.
While peanut butter is technically excellent for dogs in moderation, using hemp seeds to create a different but slightly similar taste is the better way to go. There are more health benefits, and owners do not have to worry about their dog overeating at once.
These tiny seeds are great snacks for dogs, and no owner has to worry about them choking them down since they have that tiny size. Dogs will face no complications, and they are pretty loaded with beneficial nutrients. Most notably, a dog will get all the Omega-6 essential fatty acids that they need, as well as calcium and protein.
Preparation options are also there, as dogs would like them toasted or served completely raw. They are an inexpensive snack that can be used entirely by themselves, or as a way to add a little bit extra to a prepared dinner.
There is enough variation from sunflower seeds that they make a good addition overall. Dogs do not always get the right amount of iron and copper in their diet, and sunflower seeds can do exactly that. It is also a good source of Vitamin E. They have quite a bit of versatility, and a lot of people have sunflower seeds at home already since they last such a long time.
Before giving them sunflower seeds, remove the black husks since it will not be very beneficial for them health-wise. There is also the option of buying just the kernels, which is slightly easier for them to consume anyway.
There are a lot of myths that surround poppy seeds, but the good news is that they are pretty safe and slightly beneficial for dogs. It is not the best of the best, which is why they are towards the end of this category, but it is not going to cause any issues as long as a dog does not feast on them.
There are low levels of opium and poppy seeds, which is why so many people are worried about them in general. They do not provide the same health benefits as other seeds out there, but they are not a negative either. If they want to finish off a muffin with poppy seeds on them, let the dog indulge a little.
What seeds should dogs avoid?
The biggest focus on seeds that need completely avoided mostly come from fruit. Apple seeds, watermelon seeds, pomegranate seeds, and even certain fruits without seeds can cause some serious issues. They all contain the toxin cyanide, which can cause harm in even tiny doses.
Humans mostly know that they need to avoid a lot of these seeds in their diet. The same goes for dogs, as they should steer clear of everything. Even cherries without seeds, as one example, make no sense at all for dogs to consume. They are going to put them in pretty tough living situations and can even cause life-threatening issues.
Any seeds that are super high in fat and calories can also cause a lot more trouble than they are worth. The same goes for any type of butter that is created from seeds as well. They might not seem like they would do that much harm, but too much fat is going to lead to complications.
So, what nuts and seeds are safe for dogs?
Both nuts and seeds are pretty easy to snack on, so it should come as no surprise that dogs try to find a way to have them from time to time. As a dog owner, it is essential to know which ones are a must stay away from and which ones might work best.
The major nut to look out for is the macadamia nut, but nuts should continually stay in the snack category only for dogs. Generally speaking, the fattier nuts are, the worse it is for dogs. It helps to keep nuts as salt-free as possible as well.
Seeds are the safer bet between the two, but anything related to fruits is potentially lethal. Since most humans do not touch these anyway, dogs are usually not in positions to feel tempted.
All in all, dogs can appreciate a little food variation from time to time. Nuts and seeds give them a different taste, and some of what they provide is valuable.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.