Can Dogs Eat Pecans?


Pecans are a popular tree nut that grow in North America. What makes a nutritious little snack for humans, could be harmful to our pets. Can Dogs Eat Pecans?  Dogs should not eat pecans, as they contain a harmful compound and have potential for mold that is toxic to dogs.

This little nut grows with a hard shell around it and must be cracked open to consume.  Humans eat pecans in trail nut mixes, pies, muffins, and coated in a sugary, salty seasoning.  Some food orientated dogs will give you indications they want a sample of what you are eating.  Can dogs eat pecans?  No, avoid sharing this nut with your dog.

In this article, Can Dogs Eat Pecans?, you will learn why pecans are harmful to a dog’s health and what to do if your dog helps themselves to a handful of pecans.

  • Varieties and Forms of Pecans
  • Can Pecans Have Nutritional Value for Dogs?
  • Toxicity, Dogs, & Pecans
  • Can one Pecan Kill My Dog?
  • Signs and Symptoms of Toxicity
  • Alternatives to Pecans

Even though pecans are not a food that should be consumed by canines, dog owners still have questions about how many pecans will harm their dog and the signs and symptoms of toxicity in dogs.

Photo by Tseiu on Pixabay

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Can Dogs Eat Pecans? Varieties and Forms of Pecans

It is good to know more about pecans, so that the likelihood of sharing them with your dog will be less.  In the United States, there are nearly 1000 varieties of pecans.  There are mammoth, extra large, large, medium, small, and extra small pecans.

This distinctly sweet nut is protected by a hard shell.  Once the shell is cracked open, the nut itself is slightly bitter on the outside with a sweet buttery taste in the center.  Humans can safely consume it whole, in halves, in pieces, in granules, and ground into meal.

Be extra careful when sharing baked goods with your dog. Pecans are easily crumbled into a topping or mixed in a pie.  Pecan-meal can be used in grain free and gluten free products. This protein-rich food is incorporated into products targeted for paleo-diet consumers.

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Can Dogs Eat Pecans? Can Pecans Have Nutritional Value for Dogs?

Humans like pecans for their healthy fiber and fat content.  They can be a nutritious snack due to the vitamins and protein found in the pecan.  Can dogs have pecans?  Larger dogs could tolerate one to two pecans, however, that is not enough to significantly benefit from eating pecans.  Especially keeping in mind, tiny breeds and small dogs could possibly have life threatening effects from just a few pecans.

Although it is a healthy nut for humans, it is best kept away from your canine.

Photo by Tseiu on Pixabay

Can Dogs Eat Pecans? Toxicity, Dogs & Pecans

There are three main reasons dog should not eat pecans.  Pecans contain a toxic compound; they can have a toxic mold present, lastly they have potential to cause intestinal blockages.

Toxicity. The compound in pecans that is toxic to both canines and horses is called juglone. Other nuts that contain this same compound are walnuts and macadamia nuts. The biggest problem with dogs consuming juglone found in pecans is it gives them digestive issues and often results in excessive vomiting.

The digestive issues can result in the dog frequently vomiting and/or having frequent diarrhea. Dogs, just like humans, can get dehydrated from so much fluid loss due to vomiting and diarrhea.  If your dog experiences this, call your veterinarian right away.

Toxic Mold.  The type of fungus that is associated with some nuts, including pecans is called aspergillus. Dogs can inhale the mold spores found in the environment, causing an infection in the nasal cavities.  Aspergillus can also make a poisonous substance called aflatoxin.

Aflatoxin can be present in dog food, corn, peanuts, and other grains.  When a dog digests the aflatoxin is can cause serious harm, resulting in the dog having seizures and tremors.  Low concentrates of aflatoxin can make a dog sick.

Intestinal Blockages.  Small to medium size pecans are often not chewed by dogs. A canine gut flora and bacteria has a difficult time breaking down pecans.  When a dog is unable to fully digest the pecan, it can result in an intestinal blockage.

Other additional reasons that dogs should not snack on pecans is due to the added flavorings. The excess salt, sugar and additives is too much for a dog’s digestion. It could cause adverse effects such as stress on the dog’s kidneys.

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Can Dogs Eat Pecans? Can One Pecan Kill My Dog?

We know the answer to, can dogs eat pecans, no it is not good for their health.  However, what happens if your dog grabs a pecan that fell to the floor and consumes it?  It is very unlikely that one pecan piece will kill your dog.

Your dog could become ill and feel uncomfortable from eating a small piece of pecan. Always monitor your dog for signs and symptoms of distress. If your dog does not improve after getting sick, call your local veterinarian immediately.

Do you have a pecan tree growing in your yard? Dog owners that live where pecan trees thrive will need to be extra diligent with picking up the fallen pecans.  Spend time training your dog the command, “leave it”, so they are less likely to put them in their mouth.

If you walk frequently in an area where pecans grow naturally, it is a good idea to be aware of fallen pecans when out walking your dog. Dog owners with food orientated dogs, train their companions to leave inedible items and some even use silicone muzzles when hiking as a safe preventative.

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Can Dogs Eat Pecans? Signs and Symptoms of Toxicity

Dogs are opportunists when it comes to food. If your dog helps themselves to pecans that were dropped on the floor or a baked good that contained pecans, monitor them for any signs of distress.

Your dog may experience the following signs and symptoms if they consumed several pecans.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Bloody stool

Neurological and musculoskeletal changes are mostly associated with a reaction to mold toxicity. If your dog is in distress and experiencing any of the above symptoms, call your local veterinarian immediately for professional advice.

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Can Dogs Eat Pecans?

No, dogs should not consume pecans.  The nutritional value is so slight that is not worth the risk.  Pecans have a natural compound that is toxic to dogs.  They can also have a mold that is detrimental to a dog’s health. 

If your dog should eat one to two pecans, just monitor your dog. Know the signs and symptoms of toxicity if your dog eats a handful of pecans.  Your veterinarian can give your professional advice when needed.

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Alternatives to Pecans

A safer alternative food that is similar to tree nuts, and most dogs love it, is peanut butter.  Peanuts are a legume and not a tree nut. Dogs have an easier time digesting peanut products. Check out our article: A Review of the 5 Best Peanut Butters for Dogs for more information.

When buying peanut butter that you can share with your dog, look for brands that contain only “peanuts”.  Dogs do not need added refined sugars or added salt.  One sweetener that can be deadly to your dog is xylitol. You will be safe giving your dog simple peanut butter in moderation.

So the answer to the question “can dogs eat pecans?” Is to do your best to keep pecans away from your dog and take preventative measures when walking in areas where pecans naturally thrive.

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