Are Pecans Safe for Your Dog?
A handful of nuts is a great snack for when you’re too busy to stop and cook. Nuts are loaded with good fat, protein, and plenty of nutrients to keep your stomach full until you can hit the kitchen again. Pecans are especially tasty and mostly underrated in a market dominated by almonds and peanuts. If you have an affinity for pecans, be careful when giving them to your dog or leaving them where your dog has access.Are Pecans Dangerous for Dogs?A few pecans aren’t going to hurt your dog, but anything outside of that can be dangerous for them. Many people don’t know that tree nuts like pecans, walnuts, and pistachios are poisoned with something called Aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a natural byproduct of a type of mold called Aspergillus. Before you freak out and toss all of your tree nuts into the fire, these levels are very low and humans aren’t affected by them. Dogs, however, are very sensitive to the poison and even small amounts are dangerous.
Signs of Aflatoxin Poisoning
Aflatoxin has a variety of effects on the body. On the less serious side, your dog might just experience severe gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea). The more severe side effects are bladder stones or acute liver failure.
If your dog’s digestive system is affected, you can expect diarrhea and vomiting that’s difficult to control. While some digestive upset is normal in dogs, this isn’t the type of vomiting or diarrhea that can be treated at home. Remember that this is caused by a poison, and it’s best to get them to veterinarian immediately for IV fluids, medications, and bloodwork to monitor their liver function. It isn’t uncommon for your dog to produce blood in their vomit or even blackened stools, indicating the possibility that the liver is being affected. As the vomiting and diarrhea continue, your dog will become dehydrated and listless, refusing to move or eat and drink. If your dog hasn’t been to the vet by now, you’re taking a gamble with their health.
If the liver is affected, your dog will become jaundiced. The whites of their eyes and their gums will take on a yellowish tinge, and their urine will be discolored with a brown or red color. When the liver starts to fail, your dog will become anemic, making them very weak and lethargic. If the red blood cells start to rupture, your dog needs to be treated by a veterinarian. Liver failure is deadly, so if your dog has eaten pecans, it’s not a question of if you should go to the vet; it’s a matter of when.
Bladder stones are also common in Aflatoxin poisoning. Dogs with bladder stones have difficulty urinating and tend to squat but not produce any urine. They’ll ask to go outside frequently or they’ll begin urinating in the house. The stones irritate the lining of the bladder so it’s not uncommon for the urine to have blood in it. Bladder stones can block the urinary tract, completely impeding the flow of urine. Unfortunately, bladder stones don’t just go away. They have to be surgically removed to give your dog relief.
While a few pecans won’t hurt your dog, you should refrain from giving them in any amount. It’s better to play it safe than to take a gamble with your dog’s liver function. If you happen to have a pecan tree in your yard, do what you can to keep your dog away from the fallen pecans. Remember that no matter how much your dog likes nuts, they aren’t necessary in their diet.