Can Dogs Eat Macadamia Nuts?

Written by Marie Abendroth
on July 22, 2019

Ever adventurous and optimistic, dogs are down to eat pretty much anything. In fact, given the chance, they will gobble down your dish of macadamia nuts faster than you can stop them — leaving you wondering, “Can dogs eat macadamia nuts?”

Can Dogs Eat Macadamia Nuts?

Quick answer: No, macadamia nuts are not safe for dogs to eat.

No need to panic, however, as quantities matter and you can provide care at home to treat macadamia nut poisoning while you wait to see the vet. We welcome you to use this guide to better understand how macadamia nuts affect dogs and how to proceed if your pup accidentally gets into the nuts.

Why Macadamia Nuts are Toxic to Dogs

Researchers have not yet figured out why macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, leaving everyone guessing about the underlying mechanism. In fact, for a long time, no one even knew they were problematic. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center actually discovered these nuts were causing problems for dogs as people called into their hotline (ASPCA Pro).  

By tracking the reported signs and symptoms, the calls revealed trends that indicated these nuts are definitely toxic to dogs of all breeds and sizes. Additional studies confirmed these findings, but did not reveal the actual mechanism causing the toxicity.

Whatever the toxin may be, certain dogs are more susceptible to experiencing a reaction than others are. The risk of experiencing a reaction does not seem linked with breed, size, body fat percentage, or any other distinguishing factors.

What Amount of Macadamia Nuts is Dangerous to Dogs?

Although it varies from dog to dog, consuming less than 2.4 grams of macadamia nuts per kilogram of body weight is not likely to cause a reaction. Any amount above that, however, is likely to cause symptoms to develop within just 12 hours of consumption. In the studies performed by the ASPCA, the dogs received a dose of 20 grams per kilogram of body weight, causing each to experience symptoms in less than 12 hours (PubMed).

In addition to the toxins, the high fat content in macadamia nuts, pistachios, and similar nuts makes them an unsafe food for dogs. The excess fat greatly increases their risk of developing pancreatitis, a potentially dangerous health condition (College of Veterinary Medicine).

Signs and Symptoms of Macadamia Nut Poisoning

If you suspect your dog ingested macadamia nuts, you do not have to rush to the vet, though if you need additional support, it might be a good choice. If your dog has any preexisting conditions or other special needs, you should head into the vet rather than try to monitor and treat at home. Otherwise, you can closely observe your pets for any of the common signs and symptoms before taking action. Give your vet office a call either way to inform them of the situation and receive personalized care advice.

As you observe your dog, look for these clinical signs:

  • Muscle weakness and tremors
  • Depression
  • Hyperthermia
  • Loss of balance
  • Vomiting

Alternatively, if you directly witnessed your dog ingesting less than two grams of nuts per kilogram of body weight within the last two hours, you can induce vomiting to minimize the chance of a reaction.  

Steps to Inducing Vomiting in Dogs

Since macadamia nuts will not cause damage on the way back up, like solvents and acidic substances do, you can induce vomiting to clear your dog’s system of small amounts of this toxin. You can induce vomiting in one of the three following ways (Flux Research Group).

Hydrogen Peroxide

Give your dog one teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 30 pounds of body weight to induce vomiting. If your dog does not start to vomit within 10 minutes, repeat the dose up to a total of three times.

Syrup of Ipecac

For every 10 pounds of body weight, your dog will need one teaspoon of syrup of Ipecac. It should work quickly, but if not, do not repeat.

Salt or Dry Mustard Powder

If you do not have either of the two options above, you can use ordinary table salt or dry mustard powder instead. All it takes is up to one teaspoon of salt or dry mustard powder placed on the back of the tongue to start working. Do not repeat if your dog does not vomit.

If your dog does not vomit from these methods, you can halt your efforts and observe your dog for symptoms, reporting to the vet as needed for guidance and treatment.

How to Proceed if Your Dog Eats a Large Amount of Macadamia Nuts

If your dog eats over two grams of macadamia nuts, or consumed the nuts over two hours ago, do not induce vomiting. Instead, you can orally administer activated charcoal mixed with 70% sorbitol to help the nuts pass through the digestive tract quickly and limit absorption of the toxins. You will need to give your dog two grams of activated charcoal and three milliliters of 70% sorbitol per kilogram of bodyweight to achieve the desired effect. Afterward, continue to observe your dog for signs and symptoms of macadamia nut poisoning and reach out to the vet as needed to resolve your concerns.  

Macadamia nut poisoning is not known to be fatal with all dogs recovering in full within 48 hours with or without vet care. The additional support from vets can help reduce the severity of the reaction and relieve your worries greatly, however.

They can help you observe your dog for signs of tremors/muscle tremors/muscle weakness and other symptoms that warrant medical support. If problems arise, they can provide that additional support, such as IVs to replenish fluids, helping your dog stay comfortable and avoid complications.  

Tips to Help Keep Your Dogs Safe from Macadamia Nuts

As with all animal care, prevention is key in keeping your dog from consuming toxic foods. Here are some ways you can help keep your dog safe from macadamia nuts and other toxic human foods.

  • Do not give your dog any food that contains even the smallest amount of unsafe nuts.
  • Look at ingredient labels to spot hidden nuts and other foods your dog cannot have.
  • Store all your nuts and nut butters in secure packaging and on a high shelf.
  • Do not put out dishes of macadamia nuts within reach of your dog.
  • Never place unsafe foods in bird feeders, as they could drop the items in your yard.

With these tips, you can help prevent your dog from consuming macadamia nuts and other problematic human foods.

The Good News…

Not all nuts are bad for dogs. Your pup can have limited quantities of almonds, peanuts, and cashews, so do not be afraid to share those treasures with your pup on special occasions.

Skip the walnuts and pecans, as there is a low risk of mold that can make dogs seriously ill (SpringerLink).

A small spoonful of peanut butter is the best treat for many dogs — and their owners as well. Or you can delight your senses even more with the amazing nut butters from SuperFat. They contain macadamia nuts and come in secure packaging, so you just have to remember to keep them on a high shelf away from your dog.

Author: Marie Abendroth

Published:  July 22, 2019

Marie is a guest contributor for SuperFat (and lifelong dog owner) and has years of experience sharing insights on health and wellness (and pets!). Among many other websites, she's also contributed at Health Street.

Written by Marie Abendroth

Published: July 22, 2019