Dogs are omnivores, which means they can have a little bit of everything in their diet. Of course, like humans, there are some dietary restrictions. The most well-known example is the inability to eat chocolate.
While dogs have stronger stomach acids than humans, they don’t necessarily have the same digestive mechanisms that allow us to eat a virtually limitless range of foods. That’s why there are several types of nuts that dogs can and can’t eat. To make your life easier when it comes to feeding your four-legged friend, here is everything you need to know about giving dogs pistachios.
Are Pistachios Safe for Dogs?
Pistachios, unlike macadamia nuts, are not toxic to dogs. It is okay to give your dog a couple of nuts. That said, pistachios are generally not recommended as a treat because of their potential for adverse reactions.
For instance, the shell of the pistachio can be a choking hazard for puppies or senior dogs. If you do decide to give your canine one or two nuts, make sure to remove the shell. Additionally, if a dog eats too many pistachios, it can cause pancreatic or digestive problems because dogs don’t process legumes as efficiently as humans.
Can Dogs Eat Pistachio-Related Products?
Pistachio is an excellent garnish for everything from granola to biscotti to salads. Dogs can eat any of these foods on their own or with pistachios. There are exceptions to the rule, such as chocolate bars that contain pistachios.
Perhaps the most popular pistachio product is pistachio ice cream. Ice cream is safe for canine consumption, though it is essential to look out for an artificial sweetener called xylitol. This form of sugar alcohol is toxic to dogs and results in spikes in their blood sugar as well as seizures, liver failure, and possible death.
Pistachios are a robust source of healthy fats, fiber, proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients. One of the best reasons to eat pistachios is because they are among the lowest-calorie nuts. A single ounce or 43 nuts will have six grams of protein.
The high percentage of protein per serving is an ideal way to satiate an appetite. Protein is a central component of food that is responsible for making dogs feel full. There are even studies that say it is easier to maintain weight with a high protein diet.
Pistachios also contain essential vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B-1, Vitamin B-6, calcium, folate, potassium, and zinc. They are also high in antioxidants, which are a vital component of long-term health. Antioxidants protect cells from harmful free radicals, meaning they reduce the chances of chronic illnesses, like cancer.
While one or two pistachios aren’t going to cause any harm, a substantial serving or frequent consumption is a different story. If your dog overindulges in pistachios, you’ll likely notice the consequences within a matter of minutes or hours. Symptoms can include dehydration, diarrhea, and vomiting.
More severe outcomes include pancreatitis and aflatoxin poisoning. Pancreatitis occurs when the digestive enzyme activates before they reach the small intestine. This premature digestion happens because of the high-fat content in nuts and can lead to nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and abdominal pain.
Dogs suffering from pancreatitis will often curl up into an odd position. The dog will place their rear end in the air while extending their front legs and lowering their heads. If you suspect your canine has pancreatitis, a veterinarian can confirm the diagnosis with a blood test or radiograph. These tests could add up to vet bills which however can be covered by a good dog health insurance plan.
Aflatoxins are a carcinogenic compound toxic to humans and dogs alike. The substance is the byproduct of the molds Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, which grow on vegetation, grains, and hay. Exposure to aflatoxins can stunt growth and damage the liver.
Dogs are significantly more sensitive to aflatoxins than humans. While pistachios don’t naturally produce aflatoxins, the nut is vulnerable to its infection. Since 2018, there has also been a growing concern about the aflatoxin levels in pistachio orchards across the United States.
Summing It Up
While pistachios are technically okay for dogs to eat, it is not a food that comes with rigorous recommendations. If your dog does consume a significant amount of pistachios, make sure to contact your local veterinary care provider. Based on the age, weight, and breed of your canine, they will be able to offer insight, advice, and next steps.
Generally speaking, it is okay to feed your dog nuts with some exceptions, such as macadamia nuts and walnuts. But, because nuts have high-fat content that does not sit well with canine digestion, they can often be a source for vomiting and diarrhea. You should only ever give your dog nuts in moderation, though it may be easier to avoid them altogether.
Related: Can Dogs Eat Peanuts?