Macadamia nuts, although not usually an everyday food, are often found in baked goods, including cakes, cookies, muffins, and even trail mix. Are they safe for dogs? No. In fact, macadamia nuts are often listed as among the top human foods to avoid giving your dog. The consequences of eating macadamia nuts include vomiting, ataxia (lack of coordination), weakness, hyperthermia (overheating), and depression.
Veterinarians and researchers have not identified what causes why macadamia nuts are particularly food to dogs, as they are perfectly safe for humans and have not been seen to affect cats. As with grapes and raisins, we just do not know the specific toxin or mechanism of biological action that causes the signs of poisoning. But what we do know is that even a small amount of the nuts can cause severe symptoms. A dog can show symptoms from eating as little as 1/10 of an ounce per roughly 2 pounds of body weight. So, if you’re thinking of giving your dog just a little taste, don’t.
Symptoms of Macadamia Nut Poisoning in Dogs
The most common sign is weakness, especially in the hind legs. Other symptoms include lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, and fever. Some cases are mild, with dogs exhibiting only a few symptoms, and resolve themselves within a few days. However, there are serious cases involving constant shaking, high fever, and an inability to walk. If you suspect your dog may have eaten even a small amount of macadamia nuts, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Treatment of Macadamia Nut Poisoning in Dogs
First things first: If you suspect your dog has eaten even one macadamia nut, call your vet as soon as possible. If caught early enough, vomiting can be induced, but only after speaking with your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435).
Your vet may recommend close at-home observation and additionally, activated charcoal and/or a cathartic to help the nuts speed through your dog’s digestive system. More serious cases will require care and treatment at a veterinary hospital.
If your dog ingested a large amount of the nuts or if another toxic substance, chocolate for example, is involved, treatment will be more aggressive. The good news is that generally, if treated, a dog will recover fully and return to normal within several days.