What Happens When Dogs Eat Pistachios – A Veterinarian Explains

dog licking lips, sky background, pistachios photoshopped flying in above the dog

So, you’re snacking on some delicious pistachios and wondering if it’s safe to share with your dog. We’ve all been there—those puppy eyes are hard to resist! But can dogs safely eat pistachio nuts?

The short answer is yes, but proceed with caution. While not toxic, these green delights come with their own set of concerns for our four-legged friends.

Can Dogs Eat Pistachios?

I know how tempting it can be to share our favorite snacks with our pups. But when it comes to foods that your dog doesn’t eat every day, like nuts, it’s always better to pause and ask yourself: is it safe to give this to my dog?

Here’s what I’ve learned about feeding pistachios to dogs.

Are Pistachios Safe for Dogs?

The short answer is: not really. While pistachios aren’t toxic to dogs like some other nuts, they still pose some serious risks that make them a no-go for our four-legged friends.

For one, the high fat content in pistachios can spell trouble for dogs’ digestive systems. This includes stomach upsets like diarrhea, vomiting, and even pancreatitis in some cases. Trust me, you don’t want to deal with the aftermath of your dog eating pistachios.

pistachios in a white bowl on a wood grain background

What Happens if a Dog Eats Pistachios?

Besides the digestive upset we just talked about, the hard shells of whole pistachios can also pose a major choking hazard. Additionally, unlike the nut meat, nut shells are not broken down inside the digestive system and, if too large to pass through the intestine, can  cause an intestinal blockage

Plus, many pistachios are loaded with salt, flavorings, and other additives that can wreak havoc on your dog’s system. Flavored varieties may even contain ingredients like garlic or onion that are straight-up toxic to dogs. 

How Many Pistachios Can Dogs Eat Safely?

Personally, I wouldn’t risk it by letting my dog eat any amount of pistachios. Even a small handful could cause problems, especially for smaller breeds. And with the choking risk from the shells, it’s just not worth rolling the dice.

If your large breed dog does manage to sneak a shelled pistachio or two, you likely don’t have anything to worry about. But if your dog has hoovered up whole, in-the-shell nuts, or if you have a small breed dog that is more at risk, keep a close eye on them and call your vet if you notice any concerning symptoms. 

Risks of Feeding Pistachios to Dogs

Fully understanding the risks may help you be more diligent about keeping pistachios out of your dog’s reach. So let’s dig a little deeper into the dangers. 

Choking Hazards

First up, those pesky pistachio shells. They may seem harmless, but they can easily get lodged in your dog’s throat or cause some serious damage to their digestive tract if swallowed. Always make sure to properly dispose of any nut shells  in a secure trash can that your dog can’t access.

Because dogs being dogs, they are likely to try to eat the shell even if there isn’t a nut inside (especially the flavored varieties)!

High Fat Content and Pancreatitis Risk

As I mentioned earlier, pistachios are loaded with fat. While a little fat isn’t necessarily a bad thing for dogs, too much of it can lead to some nasty health issues like pancreatitis. 

This painful condition occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, often due to a high-fat diet. Symptoms of pancreatitis can include diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, it can even lead to the dog’s death.

tan bully breed dog with a smile, tan background

Gastrointestinal Issues

Even if your dog doesn’t develop a serious condition like pancreatitis, eating pistachios can still cause some major digestive upset, including diarrhea, vomiting, and general tummy troubles. The high fiber content in pistachios can also contribute to these issues, especially if your pup scarfs down a bunch at once.

Potential Toxic Components

Last but certainly not least, we need to talk about the potential toxins lurking in some pistachios. Certain flavorings and additives, like garlic and onion, can be downright dangerous for dogs. Even salt, which is a common ingredient in many packaged pistachios, can cause problems in high doses. 

It’s always best to steer clear of feeding your dog any kind of flavored or processed nuts, just to be on the safe side.

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Pistachios

Accidents happen, and even the most vigilant dog owners can’t always prevent their pups from getting into something they shouldn’t. So, what should you do if you catch your dog snacking on some pistachios?

Preventing Access to Pistachios

First things first, let’s talk prevention. The best way to keep your dog safe from the dangers of pistachios is to make sure they never have access to them in the first place. Keep any nuts stored securely out of reach, and properly dispose of shells in a trash can or compost bin that your pup can’t get into. Or, like me, just don’t have them in your home.

If you’re enjoying some pistachios yourself, be extra careful not to leave any stray nuts or shells lying around where your dog might find them. A little vigilance goes a long way in keeping our pets safe.

Monitoring for Symptoms

If you suspect your dog has gotten into some pistachios, it’s important to keep a close eye on them for any signs of distress. Watch for symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or abdominal pain. These could indicate a more serious issue like pancreatitis or an intestinal blockage.

Even if your dog seems fine at first, it’s a good idea to monitor them for at least 24 hours after the incident. Some symptoms may not show up right away, so it’s better to err on the side of caution.

When to Contact Your Vet

If your dog is showing any of the symptoms described above, it’s time to give your vet a call. They can advise you on the best course of action based on your dog’s specific situation.

In some cases, your vet may recommend bringing your pup in for an examination or treatment. This is especially important if you suspect your dog has eaten a large quantity of pistachios or if they have a history of digestive issues.

At the end of the day, it’s always better to play it safe when it comes to our dogs’ health. If you’re ever unsure about whether a food is safe for your pup, it’s best to consult with your vet before taking any chances. 

Key Takeaway: 

Pistachios aren’t outright harmful dogs, but do require mindful moderation due to choking hazards and high-fat content that could lead to pancreatitis or digestive upset in large quantities. Dogs that develop symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or abdominal pain after eating pistachios may need veterinary care. 

cute brown floppy eared dog outside background


  • Dr. Wendy Wilkins DVM PhD.

    Dr. Wendy Wilkins is an experienced veterinarian and epidemiologist with over 20 years of expertise. She holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree and a Doctorate in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Throughout her career, Dr. Wilkins has excelled in clinical practice, academia, research, and regulatory veterinary medicine. She is a respected voice in knowledge dissemination, delivering factual information in a readable and understandable manner through articles, books, and public engagements.

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