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Can Dogs Have Pistachios? Know the Risks

Can dogs have pistachios? While pistachios go well with almonds and the like in a bag of trail mix, pistachios and dogs do not mix.

One thing to know about pistachios is that they are very high in fat. While pistachios have certain health benefits and are ultimately not toxic to dogs, their high fat content could make them pretty sick if they have them in large amounts. According to the ASPCA, the high fat content in nuts like pistachios, pecans, and macadamia nuts can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

So can dogs eat pistachios? What other health risks are associated with feeding dogs pistachios? Are pistachios¬†safe for dogs? Pistachios¬†are a tasty snack‚ÄĒ for humans. Ultimately, feeding your dog pistachios¬†is not recommended. Read on to learn why it might be safer to stick with other treats for your pup instead.

Don't Go Nuts

two tan dogs looking ahead

Pistachio nuts should not be given to any animal in large quantities. At any rate, if you decide to let your dog eat pistachios, do not go overboard. Dogs that eat pistachio nuts in large quantities will get pistachio poisoning. Pistachio poisoning brings about an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea, among other symptoms.

Dognutrition.com writes that foods high in fat like pistachios and hazelnuts are known to cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) in dogs. In addition to that, pistachios, particularly pistachio shells, present a choking hazard as well as intestinal obstruction.

Safer nuts for dogs to eat, according to PetMD, include peanuts, almonds, and cashews. If you feed your dog any of these kinds of nuts, however, they should be unsalted and unseasoned. If he or she ingests too much sodium from salted nuts, your dog could develop a dangerous case of sodium ion poisoning.

Too much salt is dangerous and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, and excessive thirst, according to WedMD. Ingesting too much salt also affects water retention in dogs, which increases the likelihood of kidney failure.

There are more risks than benefits to feeding your dog pistachios. Read on as we unpack more of the risks to your dog's health that fatty nuts present.

Pistachio Poisoning

Did you know that the pistachio is a member of the cashew family? The pistachio is actually a tree nut that come from the Pistacia vera tree found in hot climates like Central Asia and Middle Eastern countries. In the United States the majority of pistachios come from California. Pistachios have many health benefits and are a great source of nutrients, are high in antioxidants, and high in protein.

You have read about the health benefits one can get from pistachios, but there are dangerous components to this tasty shelled green nut that wreak havoc on a dog's digestive system. The most detrimental component from nuts to your dog's health is Aspergillus mold. Dogs are especially susceptible to the aflatoxin produced by the mold.

Dognutrition.com also lists the following symptoms of pistachio poisoning from Aspergillus mold:

  • Jaundice
  • Liver failure
  • Lethargy
  • Orange-colored urine
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Aspergillus mold causes aflatoxins that negatively affect the liver in dogs. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi that are found on agricultural crops such as corn, peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts (this includes pistachios, of course).

Aflatoxins are a type of mycotoxins, which are "secondary metabolites produced by microfungi that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals," according to NIH. In other words, they mean bad news.

Another danger of pistachios is two natural chemicals called phosphorous and urushiol. An abundant amount of phosphorus is thought to be a cause of bladder stones in dogs. The other chemical, urushiol, is fast-acting and quickly absorbs into the skin once contact has been made. Urushiol is what causes allergic reactions to poison ivy as well. Smartdogowners.com warns that dogs who eat pistachios can get this same reaction, especially on their faces and around their mouths.

Other Dangerous Nuts to Avoid

As mentioned above, there are other kinds of nuts you should avoid feeding your dog. For example, never let your dog have macadamia nuts. The Pet Poison Helpline warns that macadamia nuts cause nerve and muscle damage in addition to severe lethargy, increased body temperature, vomiting, muscle tremors, joint stiffness, and inability to walk.

Pecans and black walnuts are also no-nos. Pecans and black walnuts contain a toxin called juglone, which causes gastrointestinal distress in dogs.

If you suspect your dog has eaten too many nuts and displays the aforementioned symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Bottom Line on Pistachios 

Can dogs have pistachios? Since they are not toxic in small quantities, it is safe for dogs to have a nut or two, just don't incorporate it into your dog's diet all the time. And if you do share a pistachio nut with your furry friend, make sure it's without the shells in order to avoid choking or intestinal obstruction.

Ultimately there are safer and healthier treats out there your dog can eat. At the end of the day it is better to play it safe and to keep this particular human food to yourself rather than sharing it with your pooch.