Can eating nuts be harmful to dogs?

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

jkoch

By Dr. John Koch

Question: The other day we were baking macadamia nut cookies when my dog got into the nuts and ate the whole bag. Wow, did he get sick! I would not have thought too much about it except this is the second time he got sick after eating the nuts. Do maca-damia nuts make dogs sick? We humans eat them and don't have any problems.

Answer: Recent data published indicates that maca-damia nuts are mildly toxic to dogs. Since 1987 there have been 48 confirmed cases of dogs ingesting them and having illness as a result. Symptoms include weakness, depression, vomiting, ataxia, tremors, and fever. The degree of sickness depends upon the number of nuts eaten. Rear limb weakness is the most common sign.

The good news is that the prognosis for complete recovery is extremely good. Diagnosis is based on seeing the animal actually consume the nuts. Home observation is usually all that is recommended. If complications are anticipated, treatment may be necessary and that involves evacuation of the gastrointestinal tract. Hydrogen peroxide may be given a teaspoon at a time until vomiting occurs. Occasionally veterinarians will administer activated charcoal with a cathartic to reduce absorption of the toxins and speed the passage of the nuts through the stool. Dogs routinely recover in 24 to 48 hours.

Dr. Koch is a Cape Girardeau veterinarian.

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