No, your dog should not eat pistachios as they are unsafe. Pistachios are not toxic for dogs, but the high fat and salt content can make them dangerous. For this reason, it is typically not recommended to give them to your dog and to instead give them a healthy dog treat.
According to the ASPCA, the high-fat content in nuts like pistachios, pecans, and macadamia nuts can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.
Are Pistachios Bad for Dogs?
If your dog tries to swallow these nuts or their shells, they could become choking hazards and get lodged in your pet’s throat. If you’re eating nuts, be sure to properly dispose of the shells in a trashcan or compost bin that your dog can’t access.
Pistachios’ high-fat content makes them dangerous for dogs. “The nut is high in fat, and salt, and could cause gastrointestinal issues in some dogs,” explains Dr. Klein. Consumption of fatty, salty snacks can lead to the development of pancreatitis.
Symptoms to watch for include diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Pancreatitis is a serious condition and can progress quickly. If your dog seems lethargic or has any gastrointestinal upset after eating pistachios, consult a veterinarian immediately.
Although pistachios are not explicitly toxic, they do contain substances dangerous to dogs. Urushiol, which is also found in poison ivy, makes dogs sick with an allergy-like response.
Aflatoxin is naturally produced from mold that grows on the shells of nuts. Consuming aflatoxin can make dogs weak and lethargic, cause gastrointestinal upset, and even lead to seizures.
Can Dogs Eat Pistachio Shells?
Like all nuts, pistachios can be choking hazards, especially the shells. Keep an eye out for any signs of choking after your dog has eaten pistachios, which include:
- Pawing at their mouth
- Becoming unconscious
If your dog is choking, check their mouth and throat for any foreign objects, and contact your veterinarian right away. The vet can walk you through performing the Heimlich maneuver on your dog.
In addition to choking, pistachios with or without the shell can cause an intestinal blockage. Signs of this condition include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
If you notice any of these symptoms or suspect that your dog has swallowed something that could cause an intestinal blockage, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Benefits to giving pistachios as treats to your dog
Nuts, including pistachios, make for great high-protein treats, which means that they can satiate an appetite while providing a heavy dose of essential minerals and vitamins.
The antioxidants can also play a key role in long-term health that you often can’t find in pre-made dog treats. Pistachios also contain fiber, vitamins A, C, and B6, and are rich in iron, magnesium, and potassium that your pup needs in his/her diet.
Pistachios are an excellent source of vitamin B6 which has many benefits for your dog’s overall health. Vitamin B6 is one of the essential vitamins that help with growth and development, and promote healthy brain function, and heart health in dogs.
Pistachios are a great natural source of potassium which is an important mineral that is involved in many functions within your dog’s body. Potassium is important for the proper functioning of the cells in your dog’s body and promotes normal electrical charges in the heart, nerves, and muscles.
Pistachios are a good source of dietary fiber that is essential for proper digestion and regular bowel movements. Eating fiber-rich foods can help your dog feel fuller longer
and relieve mild cases of constipation or diarrhea.
Should you be giving pistachios to your dog as its primary food source, probably not, as they do best on a high-protein, meat-based diet that’s balanced to their particular needs.
But as an occasional snack in moderation, feel comfortable doing so. The best option is to choose an unsalted version, or just make sure to only offer 2-3 every so often.
How Many Pistachios Can Dogs Eat at a Time?
“How many pistachios they can eat largely depends on the size of the dog, but I wouldn’t recommend more than a few per day since they are fairly heavy in calorie density,” Shapard says.
“Getting dogs used to eating non-dog food can lead to obesity and aversion for well-balanced commercial diets. If it’s given as an alternative to a typical high-value treat for training purposes, then I see no harm in it at all.”
Symptoms of Pistachio Poisoning in Dogs
Pistachios contain aflatoxins, a compound made by Aspergillus mold. Aspergillus mold is commonly found on agricultural crops, such as peanuts, cottonseed, corn, and tree nuts.
If your dog eats a large number of pistachios, they may experience aflatoxin poisoning. Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice, and liver failure.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Pistachios?
So, what if your pooch has eaten pistachios? Should you take them to the vet? It depends on how old the nuts were, whether they were shelled, and how much they ate.
For example, if you have a small breed dog, even a single pistachio might lead to blocked intestines. If your four-legged friend is bigger and ate a whole bag of shelled pistachios, you should watch for signs of aflatoxin poisoning.
If your pooch exhibits the above-listed symptoms, make sure to take them to the vet right away.
Typically, the vet will get a history of previous illnesses and ask you what foods your pup had access to recently. Then, they will likely perform a general physical examination and complete bloodwork.
Vomitus, urine, and stools will also be tested to confirm the presence of toxins like aflatoxin or another underlying condition.
If your furry pal exhibits additional symptoms, such as showing signs of dehydration or damage to the esophagus, an ultrasound of the chest and throat area or an X-ray might be recommended.
Ultrasound of the abdomen is also an option in order to check for fluid accumulation in this area or enlargement of the pancreas.
The treatment will depend on how affected your pup is. Medications such as antibiotics, stomach, and liver protectants, as well as pain management drugs, can be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms.
Supportive treatment including IV fluids can also be given to treat immediate symptoms like dehydration. Because aflatoxin poisoning carries a serious risk of liver damage, vitamin K and hepatoprotective treatments are often recommended.
If your pooch is vomiting severely or persistently, it might be a symptom of pancreatitis. This condition can be life-threatening. Our vet might recommend a period of withholding food by mouth for up to several days in order to allow the pancreas swelling to go down.
If the pet is able to eat on its own, it will most likely be put on a low-fat, low-protein, high-fiber diet to speed up healing. In addition, supplements of pancreatic enzymes might also be given to relieve abdominal pain, but they’re unlikely to change the overall course of the disease.
If your pet is not able to hold food down or does not want to eat, your vet may need to hospitalize them to give them fluids and other supportive medications.
Pro tip: If your pooch develops a health condition because of a poor diet, they might need more visits to the vet and special food. Vet treatment and medication for serious illnesses can be extremely expensive, and having pet insurance can save you from having to fund any unforeseen expenses.