It’s a bit startling that your dog will eat anything they find in the backyard and experience no ill side effects, but certain foods you eat almost every day have the potential to be deadly for them. Most dog owners are aware of the typical food dangers for dogs (chocolate, onions, grapes, etc), but there are more obscure toxins that a lot of people don’t know about until it’s too late.
Are Macadamia Nuts Safe for Dogs?
Macadamia nuts may be tasty for you, but they make your dog very ill if they get ahold of them. Despite research, experts really have no idea what makes macadamia nuts toxic to dogs, but the effects the nuts have on their body have been well-documented for many years. While the syndrome produced by macadamia nuts isn’t fatal, the symptoms are scary for both you and your dog. Interestingly, dogs are the only species that seem to be unable to tolerate this type of nut.
Symptoms of Macadamia Nut Ingestion
Symptoms usually appear within 12 hours of eating the nuts, and they typically resolve in 12 to 48 hours with veterinary care. Weakness, muscle tremors, and incoordination are the most common side effects. Typically, the muscle tremors are caused from muscle weakness, and it’s the body’s way of trying to compensate. Many dogs experience vomiting and diarrhea and the best way to detect if a dog has eaten the nuts is to see if they’re visible in the vomit or feces. If your vet runs bloodwork, your dog’s blood may have higher levels of fat temporarily.
How Do Vets Diagnosis Macadamia Nut Ingestion?
The best way to diagnose your dog is if you know they’ve had an exposure to the nuts. The symptoms can be similar to antifreeze poisoning and some infectious diseases, so your vet will need to run blood work and urinalyses to rule these other problems out.
How Many Nuts Are Considered Toxic?
Dogs won’t start showing symptoms until they’ve eaten a certain amount of nuts. Research has shown dogs don’t start exhibiting symptoms until they’ve eaten 2.4 g/kg.
Treating Macadamia Nut Toxicity
If it’s been less than 90 minutes since ingestion, vets can induce vomiting in dogs. Once they’ve vomited, activated charcoal is administered to soak up any additional toxins found in the body. Dogs showing severe symptoms are generally kept at the clinic for supportive treatment like fluids, pain medications, and fever reducers to battle any hyperthermia.
When you aren’t sure whether your dog ingested the nuts or not, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and seek veterinary attention. Small amounts of macadamia nuts probably won’t cause any issues, but all dogs metabolize the toxins differently. If you aren’t sure how many nuts your dog ate but you do know they ate them, it’s time to have a vet induce vomiting.
Avoid inducing vomiting at home with hydrogen peroxide. While many internet resources recommend it and some vets will allow it in a pinch, it isn’t the best emetic. Hydrogen peroxide is quite caustic, and when it combines with the stomach acid, there is the potential of burning the esophagus as the dog vomits. Always go with your vet’s recommendation!
The Dangers of Too Much Fat
Nuts are naturally high in fat, and when dogs get too much fat, they develop a condition known as pancreatitis. When the pancreas is overloaded by fat, it becomes inflamed and incredibly painful. Dogs with pancreatitis must be treated by a veterinarian or the condition can be fatal. Treatment includes IV fluids, pain medications, antibiotics, and an extremely low-fat diet. Dogs who have had pancreatitis once are more likely to get it again in their lifetime, so they have to stay on a low-diet for the rest of their life.
While macadamia nuts won’t necessarily kill your dog, they can make them extremely sick and uncomfortable for a while. If you buy macadamia nuts and your pup is a food stealer, make sure they don’t have any access to the nuts and save yourself an expensive vet bill.