Hazelnuts are a popular snack for humans, with things like hazelnut butter and hazelnut spreads overtaking the popularity of peanut butter in some households. You may have shared peanuts or peanut butter with your dog in the past, but can you share hazelnut products the same way?
Hazelnuts and peanuts are extremely different, and these differences should change your approach. Generally, nuts don’t really have any nutritional benefits for your dog that make them worth sharing.
Here’s what you need to understand about the differences between hazelnuts and other nuts before you attempt to feed them to your dog.
The Nutritional Benefits of Nuts
The nutritional benefits of nuts for humans are very different from the nutritional benefits of nuts for dogs. Humans are omnivores who benefit from balanced diets, while dogs are primarily carnivores.
Nuts like hazelnuts contain valuable healthy fats, plant-based protein, vitamins, and trace minerals. They’re a great snack when eaten in appropriate serving sizes, which is usually a tablespoon or two for nut butters or a small handful of shelled whole nuts. Many people find that nuts are a satiating snack that helps them mindfully overcome their mid-afternoon slump without turning to empty calories from a vending machine or opening up a bag of chips.
Dogs don’t need additional fats in their diet from nuts, but some nuts are okay as an occasional treat. Peanut butter is often used by dog owners to disguise medications or to bind homemade dog treats together, but it shouldn’t be given as a part of a dog’s regular diet.
Can Dogs Eat Hazelnuts?
Although the risk of a single hazelnut causing harm to your dog is very low, a few hazelnuts may be all it takes to cause a negative reaction in your dog. Hazelnuts contain compounds called mycotoxins and juglone. These compounds aren’t dangerous to humans who consume a reasonable serving size of nuts like hazelnuts, but your dog may be a little more sensitive to their effects.
It’s better to avoid feeding your dog hazelnuts in any form, even in small amounts. There are no significant benefits to giving your dog hazelnuts, but there are risks. It’s best to choose a safe nut, or better yet, feed your dog something like vegetables as a special treat.
What Are Mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are a kind of mold that naturally grows on some foods. Certain foods are more vulnerable to mycotoxin growth than other foods, including grains, hard cheeses, coffee beans, and cereals. There is a safe threshold for trace amounts of mycotoxin in certain foods. Microscopic amounts of mycotoxins aren’t usually harmful to humans, but the accidental ingestion of significant amounts of mycotoxins can cause severe illness.
Nuts like hazelnuts are more vulnerable to mold growth during the harvesting, drying, and storage process. Hazelnuts often cultivate small amounts of mold, and this mold is usually harmless. Not all mold growth results in the production of mycotoxin, but it’s always a possibility.
You might notice if your hazelnuts taste funny, but your dog is unlikely to know the difference. They may eat the hazelnuts anyway, unaware that they’re consuming something potentially dangerous.
What Is Juglone?
Juglone is a toxic compound that naturally occurs in some nuts, like walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts. The plant produces and uses juglone to protect itself from predators that will eat or destroy the plant. Juglone can be equally as dangerous for humans and animals to consume.
Although removing the shell from the nut substantially reduces the risk of accidental juglone consumption, it doesn’t eliminate it completely. Juglone still exists within the actual nut, albeit in smaller amounts.
Are Nuts Safe for Dogs?
Some nuts are safe for dogs when they’re removed from their shells. Most dogs tolerate peanuts well. Cashews are safe for your dog as long as the nuts have been roasted, but are not as safe as peanuts.
Most nuts aren’t safe for your dog.
Nuts That Can Be Dangerous For Dogs
There are two reasons nuts can be unsafe for dogs. The first reason is the presence of toxic compounds that can significantly jeopardize your dog’s health. The second reason is that the nut contains significant amounts of fat that can contribute to health issues like pancreatitis.
Here are the nuts best kept out of reach:
- Brazil nuts
- Pine nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Horse chestnuts
- Hickory nuts
Hazelnut Spread Is Not the Same as Peanut Butter
If you occasionally let your dog lick the residual peanut butter off the spoon, you probably won’t think twice when you’re making something with hazelnut butter or hazelnut spread (as long as you’re checking the ingredient list to make sure there’s no xylitol, which is an alternative sweetener that is toxic to animals). Hazelnut spread contains a substantial amount of chocolate, which is toxic to your dog. Don’t ever allow your dog to have hazelnut spread or to lick plates or spoons that may have hazelnut spread on them.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Hazelnuts
If your dog consumes a hazelnut or two and the shell has been removed, monitor your dog. Your dog will likely be safe, but you should monitor your dog for indications of nausea or digestive upset. If your dog starts to show symptoms, call the vet for advice. If the symptoms are severe, head to the animal hospital.
If your dog eats something like hazelnut butter, hazelnut spread, or hazelnut chocolate truffles, you should treat the situation like an emergency. Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which acts as a strong stimulant to your dog’s nervous system and heart. This can lead to rapid heart rate that can quickly become fatal, or dangerous seizures.
It might seem as though your dog is fine, but the symptoms of chocolate toxicity can take as long as 12 hours to appear. You need to pursue intervention immediately after you find out your dog has ingested chocolate. Don’t wait for symptoms to present themselves.
If your dog consumes chocolate, call your vet immediately. If it’s outside of your vet’s normal operating hours, don’t wait. Head to the nearest animal emergency center immediately.
Your vet will use the course of action they feel most appropriate. It usually involves administering fluids to your dog to prevent dehydration and utilizing a special medication to induce vomiting. The faster your vet is able to eliminate the chocolate from your dog’s system, the better the outcome of the situation will be.
Prioritize Your Dog’s Wellness
It’s normal to want to share the foods you love with your dog. Your dog is a member of your family, and you want to be able to enjoy experiences like fun meals together. There are plenty of foods that you can safely feed your dog as an occasional treat, but it’s wise to pass on all nuts except for the occasional bit of natural, unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter or plain unsalted boiled peanuts with the shells removed.
If your dog ate a hazelnut, it’s important to keep a close eye on your dog to monitor the situation. If your dog ate a hazelnut product made with chocolate, you need to treat the situation as potentially life threatening.
VETCBD Hemp believes in a holistic approach to animal health. If you want to make special treats that are safe for your dog to eat, check out our blog for healthy dog treat recipes.
Mycotoxins | World Health Organization
Evaluation of Mold and Mycotoxin Contaminations in Hybrid Hazelnuts Grown in Nebraska | Digital Commons at The University of Nebraska
Juglone - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate | American Kennel Club
Occurrence, Toxicity, and Analysis of Major Mycotoxins in Food | NCBI