Pistachios are a delicious, healthy, versatile nut that we can’t get enough of. However, have you ever asked yourself, “Can my dog eat pistachios?” Are these tasty little human treats just as good for us as they are for our doggos? Should we leave a little treat bag of pistachios with our doggo’s expert Pet Sitter? Or should we be scrambling to sweep up any spilled pistachios from the floor before our four-legged vacuums swoop in? The results are kind of a mixed bag, with some vets not showing too much worry and others taking a hard stance against it.
Who knew something as small as a pistachio could stir up so much controversy? It’s time to crack this mystery open and answer the question once and for all – can my dog eat pistachios?
Can my dog eat pistachios? The answer is…they really shouldn’t
The bottom line is that pistachios aren’t toxic for dogs. If your pupper nibbles a few shelled pistachios that fell on the floor while you were making some amazing pistachio dessert, they’ll likely be fine. Also, we’d love to see that pistachio dessert recipe.
But there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t introduce pistachios into your doggo’s normal diet, no matter how cute those puppy dog eyes are.
For one, pistachios have a very high fat content. Dogs benefit from a high protein, low carb and low fat diet. So, even a few pistachios here and there can put them at risk for weight problems leading to obesity and pancreatitis. Plus, many of us eat pistachios that have been roasted with salt. Delicious as they are, those salty pistachios won’t do any favours for your dog’s blood pressure or kidneys.
You can learn more about the benefits of a grain-free diet by reading our recent Vet Guest Spot.
The other issue is the shell. Ever get one of the pistachios without a cracked shell? You probably wouldn’t just swallow the thing whole. Instead, you might go find a nut-cracker or say goodbye to that particular nut. And your dog shouldn’t eat the shells either, because they can’t be broken down in your dog’s digestive system. Allowing your dog to eat a pistachio with the shell on could lead to blockage and discomfort. Or worse, your dog’s powerful chompers could crack the shells on the way in. Not a good situation.
So, as much as you can, keep the pistachios away from your dog. You’ll be saving them from digestive discomfort and long-term problems.
Are there any other nutty reasons to steer clear of pistachios?
We should mention that most types of nuts fall into this same category – not technically toxic to your pup, but not good for them, either. Some nuts, on the other hand, are highly toxic and should be avoided – macadamia nuts, we’re looking at you. But most, from pecans to walnuts, should be avoided for the simple reason that they’re not a regular part of your dog’s healthy diet.
However, there is one other thing we should mention here – aspergillus mould. This is a common type of mould that could be lingering in your fridge at this very moment. It’s the mould that pops up when you don’t eat your veggies at peak freshness. You might also find it in mounds of fallen leaves outside or in a chicken coop out in the country. It’s such a common mould that we don’t tend to worry about it too much.
But, this mould has been found on pistachios over the years and could pose a threat to your pup. We don’t want to give pistachios a bad name, here, but these nuts are more likely to be infected by aspergillus mould because of their unique harvesting process. If you’ve ever wondered how pistachios come to you so conveniently pre-cracked, it’s because they naturally open before harvest. Once farmers see that the pistachio shells have split, they jump to action to start harvesting. And they have to move quickly, because the nut is now exposed to all kinds of pistachio-loving mould and insects.
The chance of your pistachios having aspergillus mould when they get to you is lower now than it was in the past. And even if you or your doggo get ahold of pistachios with some mould on them, veterinarian Krista Williams suggests that aspergillosis generally only affects dogs with a compromised immune system. Healthy puppers have a variety of defence mechanisms, from debris-trapping mucus in the nose to spore-fighting cilia in the respiratory tract that help them to prevent infection.
So, the chances of your dog contracting aspergillosis from pistachios is small. Still, when you add this risk to the fact that pistachios aren’t good for your doggo’s health, it’s just one more reason not to give your dog these tasty treats.
“Can my dog eat pistachios?” I’d say we’ve answered it!
And…the answer’s no. Sorry, furry friends. Pistachios aren’t worth the extra fat, the saltiness, or the slight risk of infection. Just stay away.
Now, if your pup has somehow managed to gobble up a large quantity of pistachios while you looked away for two seconds (it happens, we know!), your best plan of action is to call up your trusted vet. They’ll likely ask you to monitor your pupper’s behaviour and come in if they’re showing signs of digestive distress.
If it’s just a couple of pistachios that they managed to wrestle out of your hand while you were absorbed in your favourite television show? Your pup will probably be fine. Maybe give them their own healthy dog treats next time. In fact, take a look at our delicious Pumpkin Apple Dog Treat Recipe to make your own. And if you’ll be leaving your pistachio-swiping dog in the care of a trusted Pet Sitter, make sure they know that your pup is likely to scoop up any pistachios in the place. That way, they’ll know to hide their stash.