Pecans are a popular option for humans to eat or include in a variety of dishes. In moderation, these tree nuts can be a healthy snack for people, as they are full of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Pecans are also a source of monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol.
Unfortunately, pecans are not good for dogs. Even a small number of these nuts can make your dog very sick, possibly causing neurological issues.
Can Dogs Eat Pecans?
If you are eating pecans or snacks filled with pecans, don’t share them with your dog. Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC, explains that “though pecans are harmless to humans, pecans should not be given to dogs.”
Why are pecans bad for dogs? These nuts are toxic for dogs. Eating them can result in pets becoming sick and needing immediate veterinary care. “The reason pecans are considered toxic is that they contain a compound called juglone, also found in walnuts, that is harmful to dogs,” advises Dr. Klein. Juglone is naturally found in every part of pecans and can cause a variety of digestive issues if ingested.
Dogs who eat pecans are likely to experience severe vomiting from the juglone; this compound may also cause gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea. Furthermore, pecans contain molds, which can also be toxic to dogs if ingested. In addition, pecans’ small size makes them a possible choking hazard.
Pecans are considered a high-fat nut, which is part of what makes them such a popular energy-boosting snack for people. But nuts’ high fat and oil content could lead to pancreatitis in dogs. Symptoms of pancreatitis for dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Dogs with pancreatitis (or suspected pancreatitis) can get very sick quickly and risk dehydration; a veterinarian should immediately see them.
Risk of Toxic Mold
Even if you are using fresh pecans, you run the risk of exposing your dog to harmful mold, which can make them very sick. Pecans (and walnuts) are very susceptible to growing a particularly dangerous mold that contains mycotoxins. Some varieties of mold growing naturally in nuts produce mycotoxins, which are toxic.
Dr. Klein explains that dogs ingesting mycotoxins from pecans “can lead to tremors and seizures,” as well as other neurological issues. In addition, pecans are susceptible to developing aflatoxin. Klein notes that aflatoxin is “produced from a mold that grows on pecan shells known as Aspergillus.”
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Pecans
If you’re eating pecans or cooking with pecans, it’s best to keep those nuts away from your dog. While Dr. Klein notes that “most likely, if a dog consumes only one or two pieces of pecan nuts, chances are there should not be a major problem,” he adds that a dog would not have to eat a lot of pecans to get very sick.
To be safe, if your dog eats pecans, even a small amount, Dr. Klein recommends contacting a veterinarian right away. If your regular veterinarian’s office is closed, you should contact an emergency veterinary clinic in your area.