Can German Shepherds Eat Nuts? Nut Dangers!


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Have you ever been enjoying a handful of nuts when your German Shepherd sits in front of you with longing eyes? That got me wondering all about nuts and whether dogs can 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. We’ll also discover what nuts are 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.

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

What Nuts are Toxic to German Shepherds?

Macadamia and black walnuts are very toxic to German Shepherds and can cause neurological problems, including tremors, lameness, high temperature, vomiting, and seizures. Hickory nuts and pecans are mildly toxic. Dogs can also develop pancreatitis due to the very high-fat content of these nuts.

NUTTOXICITY
Macadamia Very Toxic & high in fat
Black WalnutsVery Toxic & high in fat
HickoryMildly Toxic & high in fat
Pecans Mildly Toxic & high in fat

German Shepherds should also not eat chocolate nuts or nuts that have turned moldy as they contain additional toxins.

Macadamia and Black Walnuts

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

German Shepherds can not eat macadamia nuts (Australian nuts) or black walnuts. They are poisonous to dogs, especially if eaten in large amounts, and even a handful of macadamia nuts or walnuts can make your German Shepherd sick. Signs and symptoms usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion.

Other 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 pet insurance claims for toxic ingestion.

“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

Did you know the most calorie-dense wild plant food is hickory nuts? So if you find yourself in the outdoors in the fall and you need an energy boost, you can’t go wrong cracking open some hickory nuts with their oily, pecan flavor – that’s if you can get in them!

Pecans are a nut produced by a variety of the hickory tree. So, what’s the deal with hickory nuts and their similarly flavored counterparts, the pecan? Can German Shepherds eat hickory nuts and pecans?

German Shepherds can not eat hickory nuts and pecans as they are mildly toxic due to the chemical juglone. Continued ingestion or consuming a large amount of these high-fat nuts can also lead to pancreatitis as dogs cannot properly digest the proteins in nuts. They can also cause obesity.

The full effect of hickory nut poisoning in dogs is unknown but eaten in large quantities, cause severe gastrointestinal upset. Also, these nuts are a choking risk and may cause a digestive blockage, especially if your dog swallows them whole.

Can GSDs Eat Pistachios, Pine Nuts & Brazil Nuts?

German Shepherds can eat pistachios, pine nuts, and brazil nuts in that they are not toxic. However, they are not recommended due to their high-fat content, which can cause a stomach upset and lead to pancreatitis if consumed in large amounts. Their high-calorie content can also cause obesity.

As pistachios, pine nuts, and brazils are often sold in their shell, they become 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 moldy foods in large quantities can cause liver failure in dogs.

What Nuts Can German Shepherds Eat?

German Shepherds can eat peanuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds as they are technically safe for your German Shepherd in that they are not toxic like macadamia and walnuts. However, all nuts are difficult for dogs to digest, are high in fat, and are a choking risk.

NUTADVICE
PeanutsFeed in moderation
CashewsFeed in moderation
Chestnuts Feed in moderation
HazelnutsFeed in moderation but harder to digest
AlmondsFeed in moderation but harder to digest

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.

Keep in mind that even nuts deemed okay for German Shepherds to eat 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), you should always give caution, and it’s best to keep a close eye on them to see if they suffer any reaction.

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

Peanuts

Can German Shepherds eat 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

Can German Shepherds Eat Cashews?

German Shepherds can eat cashews and they are generally safe for your dog. They are high in protein and are okay as an occasional snack or as an energy boost. However, you must feed them in moderation as they are also high in fat, and you should supervise your dog to prevent choking.

Make sure they are free of salt and do not feed chocolate-coated cashews as both chocolate and salt are highly toxic to dogs when 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 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

German Shepherds can eat chestnuts. They are tasty and nutritious, full of fiber, and contain omega fatty acids and vitamin C. They are also much lower in fat and calories than other nuts. Nonetheless, you should feed them in moderation due to their high fiber content. Feed them boiled, mashed, or baked.

Mashing sweet chestnuts or making them into a paste to add to your dog’s food is the safest way to feed. Although these nuts can be eaten in theory, in that they are not poisonous, they must be unsalted and fed sparingly:

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

So, have you ever wondered what the difference is between horse chestnuts and sweet chestnuts as they look very similar? Horse chestnuts are the brown seeds of the horse chestnut tree, also known as conkers. So, can German Shepherds eat horse chestnuts?

German Shepherds can not eat horse chestnuts (conkers) as they contain a poison called aesculin which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. However, your dog would have to eat several horse chestnuts (widely found in the UK) to suffer severe poisoning.

Why Are Nuts Bad for German Shepherds?

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 me. Like 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, you can induce vomiting, 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 bind the toxin in his 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, you may give pain relief and anti-fever medications.

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 your dog may require more aggressive treatment.

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 an excellent idea if your dog struggles to take medication. However, don’t forget that peanut butter is loaded with calories, and you should give only occasional small amounts.

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 healthy choices for dogs. All seeds can be a good source of protein and fiber and contain omega-3 fatty acids, fighting 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 if they start to show signs of an upset stomach. This is always the key to feeding your dogs any 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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