Can My Dog Eat Pistachios?
Almost everybody I know loves pistachios. What is there not to love about them? These nuts make delicious ice cream (which, by the way, is my favorite flavor). If pistachios are all good, you might wonder, can my dog eat pistachios?
I’ve actually been wondering this myself because I’ve always wanted to share them with my beautiful dog. However, a few pet-owner friends advised me against the idea—they think pistachios are toxic to dogs.
Never did I imagine that feeding pistachio could be so controversial!
Should I believe what I read online? Can my dog eat pistachios?
The answer to that nagging question is yes, but vets do not recommend giving dogs pistachios.
Can Dogs Eat Pistachios?
Pistachios are not toxic to dogs. In fact, if your pet dog munches on a few shelled pistachios lying on the floor while you make a delicious pistachio dessert, they will be okay. There is no cause for alarm here.
However, there are a few reasons why vets do not recommend pet owners to include pistachios in their dogs’ diet.
Potential Side Effects of Giving Your Dog Pistachios
- Pancreatitis – Pistachios have high fat content, which may cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
- Choking hazard – If dogs accidentally eat pistachios that fall on the floor, they might choke on them. Plus, they can cause intestinal obstruction. Shells cannot be broken down in their digestive system. Eating shells could also damage your dog’s teeth.
- Obesity– Fat is not bad for dogs in general. Experts say that a portion of your dog’s daily calorie-requirement should come from fat sources. But too much fat can cause unhealthy weight gain in your pooch. Just like humans, being overweight may cause more serious heart problems.
- Allergic reactions – Though rare in dogs, it is always a possibility.
- Poisoning – While there is no concrete evidence that pistachios are harmful, they may cause fatal results if eaten in large quantities. You’ll find a more detailed discussion in the latter part of this article
How can pistachios be bad for dogs?
It is generally safe for your dog to eat pistachios. Giving your pet pistachios in small amounts every once in a while is not harmful. But giving them large amounts of pistachios (or any nut for that matter) may have health implications – weight gain, upset stomach, and other serious issues. If your pet is diagnosed with pancreatitis, you should avoid giving pistachios to them.
Do not regularly give your dog pistachios as a treat because they have a high caloric value. One ounce of pistachios has over 150 calories. If your pet is overweight, you should avoid feeding them pistachios.
Symptoms of Pistachio Poisoning in Dogs
Dogs cannot properly digest the proteins in pistachios. When eaten in large quantities, these nuts can cause pancreatitis, obesity, and gastrointestinal distress.
These issues may occur if your dog has consumed a large quantity all at once or smaller amounts more frequently.
Plus, pistachios may also carry Aspergillus mold. Dogs are generally susceptible to the aflatoxins in this mold, but increased exposure could pose serious consequences.
Pistachios contain two natural chemicals, urushiol and phosphorus. Urushiol is quickly absorbed into the skin upon contact. It’s the same compound that causes the infamous allergic reactions to poison ivy. Dogs that eat pistachios could get that same allergic reaction, particularly on their face and around their mouths.
These are the signs that your dog may have eaten too many pistachios:
- Greasy stools
These are the signs that your dog is suffering from pancreatitis:
- Lack of appetite
- Heart arrhythmias
- Severe abdominal pain
- Orange urine
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme weight loss
- Swollen abdomen
These are symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning due to Aspergillus mold:
- Loss of appetite
- Liver failure
Diagnosis of Pistachio Poisoning in Dogs
The vet might ask for the dog’s history if they observe symptoms of pistachio poisoning. They will ask you about the food your dog consumed recently.
A general physical examination is usually conducted. A chemistry profile and complete blood count are also often necessary. The vet might collect urine, stool, and vomitus samples to test for the presence of aflatoxin or other toxins.
An early diagnosis based solely on your dog’s physical exam and history may lead the vet to provide treatment even before your dog receives a final diagnosis.
Further testing may be required if the vet observes signs of damage to your dog’s esophagus. X-rays or ultrasounds of the throat and chest areas can reveal tears on the esophagus or enlargement of the heart. The ultrasound might also reveal fluid accumulation in the pancreas.
Are Pistachios Safe for Dogs?
The answer is: yes, it is safe to give your dog pistachios, but it is not an ideal food choice.
Pistachios are generally not recommended for your dog because any nutrient they can get from pistachios, they can also get from other foods. But if you really want to give your pet pistachios as a treat, do so in small amounts less frequently – a few pistachios won’t pose any harm.
Recovery from Pistachio Poisoning in Dogs
Your dog can easily recover from pistachio poisoning if they are in a quiet, stress-free environment. You also have to ensure they have all the needed medication and medical care to help them recover fast.
The vet might prescribe antibiotics, antacids, and stomach and liver protectants. If your dog suffered aflatoxin poisoning, you might be asked to bring them back to the vet for several follow-up appointments to monitor their liver function.
My Dog Ate Pistachios: What do I do?
The best action is to call up the vet. They will likely tell you to monitor your pet dog’s behavior and ask you to bring the dog to the clinic if you see signs of digestive distress. Small amounts of pistachios are not harmful, but if they’ve eaten large quantities, you should immediately bring them to the vet.