Can Dogs Eat Pecans? Read Before You Feed

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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Every dog owner really wants to ensure that the diet decisions they have made will not in return bring peril to the life of their four-legged companion. So, eating a good number of pecan nuts are perfectly fine for humans and some animals but can dogs eat pecans? 

From a scientific viewpoint, dogs should not be allowed to eat pecans particularly if they are moldy; due to presence of some natural toxin such as juglone and aflatoxin capable of causing various neurologic problems. In some cases, dogs may eat a too much pecans leading to GI obstruction that could be fatal if not attended to. 

It is not very difficult to find out that your little pooch is in fact, so much in love with pecans. They never ignore those mouth-watering nuts at sight and would devour them all without a glimmer of hesitation. 

I’ve owned dogs for years and i can really attest to the fact that you’ll be quite very eager to let your dog have a taste of human foods without evaluating the health implications. It’s very important that you resist the urge and be more careful in terms of the diet choices you make for your dog. That would really go a long way in making sure that your little pooch is always in a perfect state of health. 

Though you want your dog to experience the best that life itself can give, you should also understand that sometimes what’s considered very healthy to humans might be toxic to others animals. 

I will cover a lot ranging from whether pecan nuts are safe for your dog’s consumption to the health benefits and risks associated with them. Rest assured, this will help you make better decisions as regards your dog’s diet.

What are Pecans? 

Pecans are a type of nut from a North American deciduous tree, Carya illinoensis; surrounded by a brown oval shell with variable thickness. Hickory nuts (which includes pecans and some walnuts) belongs to the Juglandaceae family.

Pecan trees grows naturally in South United States and are cultivated in river banks across central Mexico

Apparently, pecan nuts make an amazing snack. They have tasty buttery flavour and can be eaten fresh or sweetened to produce your favourite praline candy or even used as an ingredients in making homemade pies, coffee, cookies, salads, cakes, casseroles, swirls and so on. 

Pecans are largely used in preparing foods that would be taken as desserts.

Being rich in nutty, buttery flavour pecans has one of the highest fat contents when it comes vegetable products. Pecan kernels has a high calorific value nonetheless It contains healthy (unsaturated) heart fats reducing the risks of various heart disease caused by high cholesterol level in the blood. 

We’ll not talk about pecans without mentioning its effective antioxidant benefits. Pecans contain compounds with powerful antioxidant effect such as phenolic in the shells and kernels which reduces the risk of harmful oxidative reactions by free radicals that may then lead to cancer, cataract, inflammatory disease and various heart diseases, thereby reinforcing the body’s immunity. 

Now you know how great of a benefit pecans are to humans. What about your lovely canine counterpart? I will get to that in a jiffy. 

Dogs have great penchant for pecans just like they do for peanut butter. However, you should not take only that into consideration but also look at the flip side of the coin.

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Can dogs eat pecans? 

Owing to the vulnerability of pecans to poisonous molds, its relatively large size and juglone content, eating pecans is considered unhealthy and harmful to dogs (and even horses). Therefore, you should keep pecan nuts out of the reach of your canine friend. 

It is very unlikely that only one pecan nut that falls off the dining table would wreak havoc on your dog’s health. But in the case where pecans are ingested in large quantity (say a bowl full of those savory nuts) or when molds have begun to grow on the outside of the nuts, they can cause harm to your dog, probably by choking or poisoning him. 

Since pecans are very appetizing, you could easily be compelled to offering a portion of the pie to your pretty hound but it is advisable not to. You have to be sure that what you feed your pooch is safe. This will help your pet live a longer and healthier life. 

I totally understand that dog owners typically have emotional relationships with their dogs and feel like sharing human foods with them. In spite of that, you should only give your dog what belongs to him and eat what belongs to you so that your dog’s health would not have to be compromised due to an avoidable blunder you made. 

Dogs do enjoy pecan nuts. Of course, its taste is really great but if you really care about the health of your dog, you will do well to replace those nuts with some healthy and savory treats like chopped apples, carrots or biscuits so your furry friend doesn’t feel left out. 

Why are pecans bad for dogs?

You now know that pecans can be very dangerous to your four-legged friend. If you are a bit curious to know the reasons why these delectable nuts may be just not the right option for your pet, keep reading because there is a lot to learn. Here are 6 reasons why your dog should stop eating pecans. 

1) Pecan nuts may contain some amount of a natural toxin, juglone. 

Juglone is a natural constitutent of the Eastern black walnuts which also belong to the Juglandaceae family. It is a very potent toxin that can cause laminitis and acute lameness in horses. Unfortunately, a good amount of this toxin is also found in pecans being one of the close varieties to the black walnuts. Symptoms of juglone poisoning in dogs includes convulsions, vomiting and liver damage resulting in jaundice — so it is necessary to check for yellow discolouration in your dog’s eyes, skin and stool. 

2) Tremorgenic Mycotoxins and Aflatoxins produced by pecan molds can poison your dog. 

It’s very recurring to see a pet owner whose pecan tree has caused harm to the life of their pets. This is because pecan nuts that fall from the tree are usually left for a long time and molds (fungi) sprout on them. Your canine friend could easily gobble up a one or two pieces of those tasty nuts before you know what is going on. 

Molds that grow on pecans forms many toxic metabolites known as tremorgenic mycotoxins. 

As the name goes, tremorgenic mycotoxins are a group of mycotoxins that can cause tremor and seizure which are the symptoms of neurotoxicity. 

The chief fungal toxin involved in tremorgenic mycotoxicosis in dogs and other animals is Penitrem A. 

Other symptoms of tremorgenic mycotoxicosis in dogs includes vomiting, anorexia, diarrhoea and fever 

Aflatoxin poisoning also occur in canines and it also caused by special type of molds (fungi) that grow on pecans known as Aspergillus Flavus

Symptoms to look out for in your dog for suspected aflatoxicosis includes loss of appetite, severe vomiting and diarrhoea, excessive thirst, blood in vomit and stool.

If you think you dog might have eaten some pecans and is showing any of these symptoms kindly call your vet and report the symptoms immediately for proper assessment and treatment. 

3) Pancreatitis may occur due to the high fat content of pecans. 

While the fat content in pecan nuts is very beneficial to the health of humans, it is not the same in the case of dogs. 

Despite that pecans owe their delectable buttery flavour to the fat they contain, on the other hand, the high fat level of pecan nuts could be harmful to your pet. 

Eating too many pecans does not only poison your dog but present him with increased risk of obesity, pancreatitis (when the pancreas becomes inflamed) and hypertension. 

4) Dogs may experience Choking, Stomach Upset, GI blockage and Perforation. 

The Gastrointestinal system of dogs is not as large and tough as that of humans, making it difficult for them to handle certain kinds of food 

The large size and rough texture of pecan nuts could be a night mare for some dogs. 

Huge-sized pets may escape the dangers associated with eating pecans but your little pup will likely not be spared.

Your dog will be faced with the risk of having nuts trapped in the oesophagus or wind pipe making it difficult for him to breathe. 

In some cases, the bulk of pecan nuts is stuffed in stomach or intestine causing stomach upset. These nuts block the passage of food impeding the GI functions. The walls of the stomach and intestine may also be perforated in the worst case scenario. It can be deadly if left untreated. 

According to American Kennel Club (AKC), symptoms of GI obstruction in dogs includes: Abdominal pain and bloating, vomiting, general body weakness, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, dehydration and whining. 

5) Pecan recipes contain additives and flavouring from human foods that can impair your dog’s well-being. 

The good news is that pecans can be sweetened or used in preparing various recipes mostly those taken as desserts

The bad news is that some of these pecan treats may contain chemical ingredients that are severely toxic to canines. 

One example is an artificial sweetener, Xylitol. It is very toxic to dogs and causes insulin level to increase. High insulin levels in dogs then lead to a resultant decrease in blood sugar level. Xylitol can also cause liver damage in dogs. 

6) High level of sodium present in flavoured pecans 

Sodium is necessary for electrolyte balance in dogs but it becomes harmful when the level is elevated beyond normal.

Pecans are naturally sodium-free but is usually salted in the process of preparing some pecan snacks or recipes. 

Ingesting a lot of flavoured pecans has a lot of way to harm you dog. When it is due to the high amount of sodium, the primary effect is the loss of water from the GI tract of your pet that may eventually cause high blood pressure. 

Are pecans still Nutritious to dogs and how?

Let’s talk a little bit the good stuff. Having listed all the bad effects of pecans, does pecan still have any good nutrients for dogs? 

As a matter of fact, pecan is a rich source of protein, dietary fibres and over 19 vitamins and minerals which includes vitamin A and E, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium. 

Dietary fibres are known to increase gastric movement and prevent stomach bloating.

Pecans can provide a great deal of nutritional benefits to dogs but the overall benefits of pecans is not worth the risk the potential health havoc that it could cause. 

In humans, the high (unsaturated) fat content of pecans helps to lower the blood cholesterol level and decrease the risk of some heart diseases. 

The strong antioxidant effect of pecan is beneficial in removing harmful free radicals from the body.

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Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.