Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts? Nut Dangers!


Have you ever been enjoying a handful of nuts when your German Shepherds sits in front of you with longing eyes? That got me wondering all about nuts and whether German Shepherds should eat them. So, can German Shepherds eat nuts?

German Shepherds can eat nuts, such as peanuts and cashews, although sparingly and with caution due to their high-fat content, choking risk, and risk of gastrointestinal blockage. However, some nuts are toxic and can not be eaten, for example, macadamia and black walnuts.  

This article will look at which varieties of nuts your German Shepherd can safely eat, how to feed them, and in what quantities, and whether they can eat peanut butter. We’ll also discover the nuts toxic to dogs, why they are dangerous, and what to do if your German Shepherd accidentally eats them.

Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts? German Shepherd and a plate of different types of nuts.

Let’s dive into the world of German Shepherds and nuts!

Table Of Contents

What Nuts are Toxic to German Shepherds?

Macadamia and black walnuts are top of the list for being the most toxic to German Shepherds. Take a look at the below table to see which other types of nuts are also toxic to dogs and those that should be avoided due to their high-fat content:

NUTHAZARD
Macadamia Very Toxic & high in fat
Black WalnutsVery Toxic & high in fat
HickoryCan be Mildly Toxic & high in fat
Pecans Can be Mildly Toxic & high in fat
Pistachios High-fat content can cause an upset stomach
Pine nutsHigh-fat content can cause an upset stomach
Brazil nutsHigh-fat content can cause an upset stomach
Chocolate nutsToxic (Chocolate)
Moldy nutsToxic (Mold)

Now let’s take a look at these types of nuts which I have sorted into groups according to their hazard:

Macadamia & Black Walnuts

Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts?Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia Nuts
Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts?Black Walnuts
Black Walnuts

Macadamia nuts (also known as Australian nuts due to where they originated from) are very dangerous for German Shepherds. Black walnuts (native to the Northeastern U.S. and Canada) certainly have a dark side as these nuts are also very dangerous!

The reason is unknown, but the toxins in these nuts can cause neurological problems, including tremors, lameness, high temperature, vomiting, and seizures.

Some dogs may also develop pancreatitis due to the very high-fat content, especially in macadamia nuts.

Just a handful of raw or roasted macadamia nuts can make your German Shepherd sick and signs and symptoms usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion. Other types of walnuts (such as English and Japanese) can cause an upset stomach or an intestinal blockage, especially if swallowed whole.

According to Nationwide Pet Insurance, walnut poisoning is one of the most common claims for toxic ingestion. This can be a very worrying and expensive time – especially if you do not have any pet insurance:

“Walnut poisoning is one of the most common claims for toxic ingestion. The average cost to treat walnut poisoning is $419. The average cost to treat liver failure, according to Nationwide pet insurance’s claims data, is $720.”

Nationwide Pet Insurance

Hickory Nuts & Pecans

Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts?Hickory Nuts
Hickory Nuts
Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts?Pecan Nuts
Pecan Nuts

Hickory nuts and pecans can be mildly toxic to your German Shepherd.

Pecans are a nut that is produced by a variety of the hickory tree. Their shells, the wood, and leaves of the hickory tree contain the chemical juglone which can be mildly toxic to dogs, however, the full effect is unknown.

Continued ingestion or consuming a large amount of these high-fat nuts can lead to pancreatitis as dogs cannot correctly digest the proteins in nuts. Also, feeding too many of these high-calorie nuts can lead to obesity.

These nuts are a choking risk and may cause a digestive blockage, especially if your dog is one of the smaller breeds or swallows them whole.

Pistachios, Pine Nuts & Brazil Nuts

Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts?Pistachio Nuts
Pistachio Nuts
Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts?Pine Nuts
Pine Nuts
Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts?Brazil Nuts
Brazil Nuts

The naturally high-fat content of pistachios, pine nuts, and brazil nuts can cause an upset stomach for your German Shepherd.

Brazil nuts contain the highest amount of fat in these nuts and continued feeding of these nuts or if your dog consumes a large quantity can also lead to pancreatitis. Their high fat and calorie content can also lead to obesity.

As pistachios, pine nuts and brazils are often sold in their shell, this becomes an extra risk as the shells can break into sharp pieces and may cause injury to your German Shepherd’s mouth, throat or even further down their digestive system.

You must also be wary if any of these nuts have turned moldy as eating these in large quantities can cause liver failure in dogs.

Why Are Nuts Bad for Dogs?

Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts? Walnuts, Cashews and Almonds

Does your dog go “nuts” for nuts? I know I certainly do! There are many varieties of nuts that are a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals for humans.

Their mix of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber certainly helps to suppress my appetite and makes me feel full which is why I find a small handful of nuts to be a quick healthy snack.

So, why are nuts bad for dogs?

  • Most nuts are bad for dogs and can be very harmful. You and I have already learned that macadamia and black walnuts can be highly toxic. In addition to this, all types of nuts contain high amounts of fats and oil that can cause an upset stomach (including vomiting and diarrhea) as your German Shepherd finds it hard to digest fat.
  • Some dogs may also develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) due to the high fat and oil content. This is a very painful condition and although your dog can receive treatment for pancreatitis, severe forms can prove fatal.
  • If your German Shepherd should eat nuts once they have turned moldy on the ground then this becomes an additional danger as foods like moldy walnuts contain mycotoxins which can cause weakness or lethargy.
  • A specific mycotoxin called aflatoxin can cause liver failure in dogs. Symptoms of moldy food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, incoordination, high temperature, tremors, and seizures.
  • Nuts are a choking hazard for dogs, due to their size, shape, and hardness. Dogs don’t chew their food as humans do. You must have noticed that your German Shepherd can’t chew side to side and this is because their jaw only allows for up and down movements when chewing. Choking may especially cause problems for smaller breeds or if you choose to feed one of the smaller types of nut.
  • Some nuts can also obstruct your GSDs intestinal tract, especially if your dog swallows large whole nuts like walnuts or pecans. This may result in life-saving surgery being required. Some small nuts (e.g. hazelnuts or almonds) can also be swallowed whole but they are difficult for your dog to digest meaning they can find their way into your dog’s intestines mostly intact!

If you are wondering like me, what is the meaning of the “intestinal tract?” Here’s your biology lesson: The intestinal tract of a dog includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, and through to the rectum and anus! 

How Many Nuts are Toxic to GSDs?

Only a small handful of toxic macadamia nuts or black walnuts may be sufficient to cause serious problems to your German Shepherd.

Dogs of different sizes may react differently or some dogs may be able to tolerate a higher dose of the poison:

Dogs have shown signs after ingesting 2.4 g of nuts/kg body weight

MSD MANUAL

Sensitivity to the toxin varies greatly between dogs, just like any poison would to you and I. Similar to grapes and raisins, which are also toxic, the exact toxin to cause poisoning in some dogs is still unknown and the exact dosage is unknown. 

What Happens if My German Shepherd Eats Nuts?

If you believe your German Shepherd has eaten a large number of nuts or is showing signs and symptoms of nut poisoning you must call your veterinarian for immediate advice. These are the signs and symptoms to be aware of:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness, especially in hind legs
  • Lethargy
  • Stomach pain
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of coordination
  • Fever
  • Tremors

If caught early enough, vomiting can be induced, but only after speaking with your vet, the ASPCA (Animal Poison Control Center), or Pet Poison Helpline.

Your vet may need to give your GSD activated charcoal which helps to bind the toxin in his or her intestines and prevent further absorption of the poison. Intravenous fluids may also be required to help flush out the toxin.

There is no specific antidote available for this type of nut poisoning however pain relief, and anti-fever medications may be given.

The good news is that the prognosis is generally good, especially if treated early enough. Your dog may fully recover within 24-48 hours assuming they have no underlying health conditions or additional poisoning, for example, chocolate, where more aggressive treatment may be required.

What Nuts are Safe for German Shepherds to Eat?

Peanuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds are technically safe for your German Shepherd. i.e. they are not toxic.

However, if you decided that you wanted to try your dog with one or two of these nuts, bear in mind that almonds and hazelnuts may be harder for your dog to digest. Chestnuts are probably the best choice, especially if you mash them:

NUTADVICE
PeanutsNot Toxic – Can feed in moderation
CashewsNot Toxic – Can feed in moderation
Chestnuts Not Toxic – Can feed in moderation
HazelnutsNot Toxic – Harder to digest
AlmondsNot Toxic – Harder to digest

Let’s now take a look at these types of nuts individually:

Peanuts

Peanuts

Did you know that peanuts are not actually nuts? No, neither did I! Technically speaking, peanuts are considered legumes, such as peas and lentils, as they grow in pods that mature beneath the ground.

However, as most people think of them as nuts, we shall discuss them here, especially as they are nutritionally similar to other nuts.

Peanuts are not considered toxic to German Shepherds. One or two plain unsalted peanuts may be okay for your dog to try, however, you must not forget about their high-fat content which may cause your dog to have a stomach upset.

They are high in calories and you must also consider the general risks of choking. You must also remember to remove the shells! I found this interesting article about dogs and peanuts:

One of the most popular online searches for pet owners is ”are peanuts safe for dogs?”

Nationwide Pet Insurance

Cashews

Cashews

Cashews are generally safe for your GSD as an occasional snack as long as the above general guidelines are followed.

Their high protein and fat content make them ideal for young active dogs on a long hike.

Make sure they are free of salt and do not feed chocolate coated cashews as both chocolate and salt are highly toxic to dogs especially if eaten in large quantities.

Almonds & Hazelnuts

Almonds and hazelnuts are not toxic to German Shepherds and can be fed in moderation should you choose to do so; however, they are harder for dogs to digest.

Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts?Almonds and Hazelnuts

Their high-fat content and can cause a flair-up of pancreatitis in some dogs. Make sure the almonds don’t contain salt or any other seasoning.

Almonds are often sold sugar-coated or covered in chocolate and these need to be strictly avoided, especially chocolate ones as they contain a chemical compound called theobromine which is toxic to dogs.

I adore hazelnut chocolate spread but don’t even think about giving your German Shepherd a spoonful of this!

Chestnuts

Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts?Sweet Chestnuts
Sweet Chestnuts
What Foods are Poisonous to German Shepherds? Conkers
Conkers

I always wondered what the difference is between horse chestnuts (conkers) and edible sweet chestnuts. As you can see from the above images, they do look very similar! I found this article from Michigan State University. which explains it really well.

In a nutshell, (pardon the pun) fresh edible chestnuts are safe for your German Shepherd, however, conkers, which are the seeds of the horse chestnut tree, (which is widely found in the UK) contain a poison called aesculin.

Your German Shepherd would have to eat several horse chestnuts to suffer severe poisoning, however, I thought they were worth a mention here.

Edible chestnuts are tasty and nutritious. They are dense in fiber and contain omega fatty acids and vitamin C. They are also much lower in fat and calories than other nuts.

They are not poisonous to German Shepherds as long as you feed in moderation to avoid the risk of a potential stomach upset due to their high fiber content. You could try your dog with boiled or baked chestnuts as long as they are unprocessed and salt-free.

Try mashing the chestnuts or making them into a paste to add to your dog’s food. I think this is the safest way to feed them to your dog. You must also remember to remove the shell!

Even though these nuts can be eaten in theory, they must be unsalted and given in moderation:

Overall, sticking to those nuts that dogs can have and not giving your dog too many is key. “Feeding your dog a few nuts here and there is generally not a cause for concern, especially if the nuts are fresh.”

Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM at Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic -Pet MD

One thing to keep in mind is that even nuts that are deemed okay for German Shepherds can still be a health risk depending on the individual dog.

It is therefore advised to consult your veterinarian first. As with these nuts, (or feeding your German Shepherd with any different foods), caution should always be given and it’s best to keep a close eye on them to see if they suffer any reaction.

Can German Shepherds Eat Peanut Butter?

Can German Shepherds Eat Peanut Butter? Jar of Peanut Butter surrounded by peanuts

Most German Shepherds love peanut butter and it is a joy to watch them eat it. But, should we be giving our dogs peanut butter?

Dogs can eat peanut butter in moderation as long as it is organic (with nothing added) and does not contain sweeteners like xylitol, which is toxic to pets.

These artificial sweeteners can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop and can also cause acute liver failure. Early symptoms to look out for include vomiting, lethargy, coordination problems, or seizures.

Many German Shepherd owners also like to give their dogs peanut butter to help give medicine by camouflaging the dosage. I think this is a really good idea if your dog struggles to take medication, however, don’t forget that peanut butter is loaded with calories and only occasional small amounts should be given.

Remember, dogs should receive the majority of their daily calories from food, not treats. An approximate guideline is that they should receive no more than 10% of their total calorie intake from treats.

Can German Shepherds Eat Seeds?

Can Dogs Eat Seeds? Sesame, flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
Sesame, Flax, Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds

Often nuts are sold with seeds as a healthy alternative to candy or chocolate.

As they go together like peanut butter and jelly I thought it would be a good idea to cover these questions:

  • Can German Shepherds eat seeds?
  • Which seeds are safe for GSDs?

You can feed unsalted sunflower seeds to German Shepherds as long as the shells have been removed. Sunflower seeds can be a healthy alternative to nuts due to their nutty and slightly sweet taste.

Other seeds e.g. flax, chia, and pumpkin are also safe and can be healthy choices for dogs. All seeds can be a good source of protein and fiber and contain omega-3 fatty acids which can fight inflammation.

Seeds are loaded with many vitamins and minerals and can boost energy and are good for maintaining your dog’s skin and coat.

The larger seeds i.e. sunflower and pumpkin can be a tasty training treat for your German Shepherd. The smaller varieties are great for adding to your dog’s food bowl as a topper or for mixing in home-cooked meals if you are a home feeder.

As with any new addition to your German Shepherds diet, you need to start with small quantities and always keep an eye on your dog in case they start to show signs of an upset stomach. This is always the key to feeding your dogs with any type of human food.

Final Thoughts

You now know which are the safest nuts to feed your German Shepherd should you wish to try him with one or two of these nutrient-rich goodies.

I don’t feed my German Shepherd nuts as I don’t think it’s worth the risk of seeing her fall ill or start to choke. I like to give my dog an occasional fruit or vegetable as an alternative healthy treat.

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Sharon Waddington

I am the owner of World of Dogz. I have a female German Shepherd named Willow, and I've worked with dogs for almost 30 years. I love spending time with her, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise of all things dogs on this site!

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