Lots of people are confused when it comes to dogs and nuts – and with good reason! Some foods that are called “nuts” aren’t even nuts, such as the peanut (it’s a legume). In other cases, nuts can be bad for dogs because they are very fatty and high in calories but they aren’t actually toxic. But there are some nuts that really are toxic to dogs. If you’re wondering if dogs can have macadamia nuts, these nuts are actually toxic to dogs so the answer is a definite no. Dogs cannot and should not have macadamia nuts in any form.
Macadamia Nut Nutrition
Macadamias are native to New South Wales and parts of Queensland in Australia but they were first produced commercially in Hawaii in the 1880s. Today South Africa is the largest producer of macadamia nuts.
Compared to other common nuts such as almonds and cashews, macadamias are high in total fat and low in protein.
One cup of macadamia nuts (134 grams) contains 8 percent carbohydrates, 88 percent fats, and 4 percent protein – so you can see that the fat content is very high.
They are low in cholesterol and sodium. Macadamia nuts are a good source of thiamin and a very good source of manganese. They have a glycemic load of zero.
That one-cup serving contains 962 calories. Most of the calories (850) come from fat. The serving contains 19.1 grams of carbohydrates, 11.5 grams of dietary fiber, 102 total grams of fat, and 10.6 grams of protein.
Macadamia nuts do provide large amounts of some vitamins and minerals. They are an amazing source of thiamin; and a good source of riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid. They are also a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and copper. And, they are an incredible source of manganese.
Since they are so rich in nutrients and plant compounds, macadamia nuts are linked to several health benefits for humans such as improved digestion, heart health, weight management, and blood sugar control.
Macadamia nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats. This is the kind of fat that may boost heart health by lowering cholesterol and LDL levels.
Macadamias are also low in carbs and sugar and have a moderate amount of fiber. These facts suggest that they are less likely to spike blood sugar levels and may help people with diabetes.
These nuts are loaded with antioxidants that protect the body against cellular damage and disease such as flavonoids and tocotrienols.
The soluble fiber in macadamia nuts may act as a prebiotic, helping digestion and improving overall gut health.
Can You Give Your Dog Macadamia Nuts to Eat?
Despite all of the nutrients in macadamia and the possible health benefits for humans, these nuts are toxic to dogs. Dogs appear to be the only species affected by macadamia nuts. The reason why macadamias affect dogs is not really understood.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “Macadamia nut toxicosis is a syndrome that occurs in dogs after ingestion of macadamia nuts. It is characterized by vomiting, weakness, hyperthermia (fever), and CNS (central nervous system) depression.”
This is usually a nonfatal, self-limiting syndrome. In other words, your dog can become sick before anything worse occurs. Dogs have become sick after eating just ½ teaspoon of macadamia nuts per two pounds of weight or less than 1/10 of an ounce (2.4 grams per kg of body weight) per two pounds of the dog’s weight. That’s just about two macadamia nuts per pound of body weight. It doesn’t take very many macadamia nuts to affect a dog.
Within 12 hours of ingestion (sometimes within three hours), dogs with macadamia nut toxicosis typically develop weakness, depression, vomiting, ataxia, tremors, and/or hyperthermia.
Fortunately, most dogs will recover withing 12-48 hours. Most symptoms are mild, with occasional vomiting and depression for 24 hours that resolve on their own with no specific treatment needed.
If your dog displays symptoms and you believe he has eaten macadamia nuts, it’s still a good idea to contact your veterinarian. This is especially important if you think he has eaten a larger amount of macadamia nuts. If your dog is vomiting constantly and has a fever of 103 F, or if he develops tremors or severe weakness in his hind legs, you should go to the veterinarian immediately.
In rare cases a dog may also experience pancreatitis in addition to a reaction to the macadamia nuts. This is because of the high fat content in the macadamias.
Symptoms of pancreatitis
- Loss of appetite
- Belly pain
- Fever or low body temperature
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
If your dog displays these symptoms, with or without signs of toxicity from the macadamia nuts, contact your veterinarian. Sometimes the symptoms can overlap but if you are in doubt, call your vet.
If your dog ate macadamia nuts that were coated with chocolate or that were mixed with raisins or included xylitol, go to the veterinarian immediately. Your dog will likely need additional treatment.
How Many Macadamia Nuts Can Your Dog Eat?
None. This is one food that you really cannot share with your dog. Even just a few macadamia nuts can make a dog sick.
Why Are Macadamia Nuts Toxic to Dogs?
No one really knows why macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. They don’t appear to be toxic to cats or other animals.
One species of macadamia nut that grows in Queensland, Australia contains large amounts of cyanogenic glycosides but this is not the species that is grown commercially or sold as a snack.
Macadamia nuts are one food that are strictly off-limits to dogs. If you have them in your home, make sure you keep them where your dog can’t reach them. If you plan to bake with them, don’t leave cakes or cookies that contain macadamia nuts anywhere your dog can reach them. Be sure to remind your family members and guests that your dog cannot eat any food items that contain macadamia nuts.