If you’re enjoying a handful of pecans and your dog is begging for a bite, you might be wondering, “Can dogs eat pecans?” While there are many foods that both people and dogs can eat, some human foods should only be given to dogs in moderation or in strictly limited amounts. So, even if it’s difficult to resist your dog’s pleading eyes, you should always be sure that any foods you’re giving your dog are safe for them to eat.
In other situations, your dog might help himself to a bite (or a few!) of a food that was left in an accessible location. If your dog got into some pecans and ate a few or many, you need to know if dogs can eat pecans or if you should be concerned. Read on to learn whether dogs can eat pecans.
Can My Dog Eat Pecans?
Yes (but only in limited amounts)
While technically pecans are not toxic and considered generally safe, I don’t recommend routinely giving them as treats to your dog.
There are a few health benefits to pecans. Pecans have higher fiber content, high copper content, and they have unsaturated fat making them heart-healthy. The nutrients in pecans have been shown to be beneficial to heart and brain function.1 Pecans have also been shown to help control blood sugar levels in people.2
While there are benefits to pecans, there are a few risks I will discuss below. These risks make me suggest that we can find other “people food” treats that are better choices for our pups.
All this said, if you elect to give pecans to your dog, then the best option is to offer only a few, plain, unseasoned pecans. Be sure to avoid pies, seasoned or salted nuts, or other sugary desserts made from pecans.
Safety Concerns and Risks Associated with Feeding Pecans to Your Dog
There are several health considerations to think about with pecans for dogs. First, avoid allowing your dog to eat whole pecans, especially whole pecans still in a shell. Depending upon the size of your dog, ingesting a whole pecan in a shell has a high risk of causing an intestinal blockage. Intestinal blockage (also known as an intestinal foreign body) can be life-threatening and require emergency surgery for removal.3 And even if your pet can pass the pecan without surgery, it will likely cause intestinal upset leading to vomiting and diarrhea.
Moldy pecans are quite dangerous. The fungus on the pecan produces a neurotoxin called Penitrem A. Penitrem A can be found in other moldy nuts, moldy bread, and moldy cheese. If your dog ingests this toxin, you would expect neurologic signs including drooling, tremoring, and possible seizures.4 If you know your dog ate mold or if you see these symptoms take her to the ER veterinarian immediately. There they can start supportive therapy including pumping the stomach, giving fluids, and giving medications to stop the tremors. In these cases, dogs may need to be in the hospital for several days or more.
Pecans have a high fat and calorie content, which can be dangerous for dogs that have a history of pancreatitis. The high fat content could also induce a new case of pancreatitis in any dog. Pancreatitis causes a lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and belly pain. Many cases of pancreatitis require hospitalization in the veterinary clinic.5 The high fat content can also induce gastroenteritis, which is less severe than pancreatitis, but it still causes intestinal signs and discomfort.6
Finally, the high fat content is not a healthy choice for dogs that are overweight or have obesity. One ounce of pecans contains approximately 200 calories!7 A 22-pound dog only needs approximately 600 calories per day, therefore an ounce of pecans would be one-third of his daily calories. And, keep in mind that veterinary nutritionists recommend keeping any and all treat calories at 10% or less of the days’ total calories. So, pecans are not great for dogs on a diet.
How Many Pecans are Considered Safe for Dogs?
While there is not technically a toxic dose or volume of pecans for dogs, a large bowl of pecans, moldy pecans, and whole pecan ingestion are all of concern. And, given all the information above it is generally best to avoid planning to give pecans to your dog.
However, if some of your pecans fall on the floor and your healthy dog swoops in at the opportunity to eat them, you likely don’t need to worry. Ingestion of a few pecans here and there is unlikely to cause any harm or toxicity to your dog.
There are some human foods that dogs can eat safely, as well as some human foods dogs can’t eat.
If you have a dog, you might be used to seeing adorable puppy eyes begging for a bite of, well, anything that you happen to be eating.
While it’s natural to want to share human food with your furry pal, many of the foods we eat are toxic to dogs. Some reasons foods may be harmful to your pup include:
- Foods that are a problem due to our physiological differences (foods we can handle that a dog’s stomach can’t)
- Other foods aren’t toxic, but are still potentially dangerous for dogs because they are hard to digest
- Another category of foods that are a problem for dogs are foods that may contain high levels of fat
Some tips and words of caution if you are feeding your pet human foods:
- Always keep in mind that new foods of any kind, including switching to a different dog food, can cause stomach upset.
- When you find a human food you’d like to share with your pup, go slowly. Give small amounts at first and watch for any problems like vomiting or diarrhea before giving more.
- Remember that treats should make up less than 10% of your dog’s diet. So all of the foods that are safe for your dog should be given in moderation to avoid weight gain and nutrient excesses and deficiencies.
What To Do if Your Dog Eats Something He Shouldn’t
Now that you know what foods are safe for dogs, it’s a good idea to know what to do if your pup eats food that’s toxic to dogs.
If your dog does end up eating something he shouldn’t, try not to panic. You have a few options for getting the help your dog needs:
- The first is to call your dog’s veterinarian, who can advise you to either come into the office or to watch for signs of poisoning, obstruction, or other potential problems.
- If it’s after hours, you can try calling an emergency veterinarian.
- Another option is to call a pet poison control line. Be aware that there is a fee to use these services. Two that we can recommend are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.
In some cases, you might be told to induce vomiting in your dog. It is helpful to keep hydrogen peroxide on hand in case you need to do this.
Do not induce vomiting unless your veterinarian or someone from one of the pet poison control hotlines advises you to do so, however, because in some cases, vomiting can make the situation worse. [efn_note]Is it ever safe to induce vomiting? ASPCA.org. November 19, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021.[/efn_note]
While dogs can eat pecans safely in limited amounts, it’s best to avoid or severely limit feeding pecans to your dog. If your dog does eat some pecans, be sure to monitor your dog closely. If you notice any decrease in appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or tremoring, check in with your veterinarian. Just like people, some foods may be technically safe but still not agree with your dog’s tummy. In the case of pecans, there can be some dangerous side effects to watch for as well.
Find out the answers to questions like “what Thanksgiving foods can dogs eat?” in our series of guides on the topic of foods your dogs can or can’t eat such as whether dogs can eat pickles, coconut, seaweed, kiwi or raw chicken.
You’re asking questions about what’s safe for your dog to eat, so I’m sure you’re interested in the quality of your dog’s food and your pet’s overall health. We have a ton of resources on that very topic.
One is a guide to dog fiber and adding it to your dog’s diet, along with or our guide to choosing the best dog food high in fiber. If you’re worried about dealing with a situation where you’ve seen dog stomach ache symptoms we have a guide for that as well, and we can even answer the question of how long does it take dogs to digest. If you’re portioning your dog’s food you can also check out our guide to choosing the best automatic dog food dispenser. We even have a list of the human foods that are toxic to dogs.
We also have a series of health and nutritional information for your dog. Our puppy calculator can let you know how big your dog is likely to be, and our dog weight chart by breed can help you determine if your dog is the ideal weight, and we even have a collection of breed-specific growth charts to give you the appropriate size and weight for a full grown goldendoodle, full grown great dane, full grown golden retriever, full grown chihuahua, or full grown labrador.
Pet News Daily uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Schwingshackl L, Hoffmann G. Monounsaturated fatty acids and risk of cardiovascular disease: synopsis of the evidence available from systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Nutrients. 2012;4(12):1989-2007. Published 2012 Dec 11. doi:10.3390/nu4121989
- McKay DL, Eliasziw M, Chen CYO, Blumberg JB. A Pecan-Rich Diet Improves Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2018;10(3):339. Published 2018 Mar 11. doi:10.3390/nu10030339
- Gibson TWG. Gastrointestinal Obstruction in Small Animals. Merckvetmanual.com. Updated June 2020. Accessed September 22, 2021.
- Bough M. Toxicology Brief: “Tremorgenic Mycotoxicosis in Dogs.” Vetfolio.com. Accessed September 22, 2021.
- American Kennel Club. Pancreatitis in Dogs – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment. Akc.org. Published February 22, 2021.
- Hunter T, Ward E. Gastroenteritis in Dogs. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed September 22, 2021.
- Nutritionix. Nuts, pecans – 1 oz (19 halves). Nutritionix.com. Accessed September 22, 2021.