Macadamia Nuts: A Danger to Pets

Do you have a dog that loves nuts? It is best to avoid feeding nuts in general to your dog, and macadamia nuts in particular should be avoided. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “Ingestion of macadamia nuts by dogs has been associated with a nonfatal syndrome characterized by vomiting, ataxia, weakness, hyperthermia, and depression.”  While the exact mechanism of macadamia nut toxicosis is unknown, dogs are the only species in which signs have been reported. Symptoms usually develop within 12 hours of ingestion and typically resolve after approximately 12 – 48 hours. The Pet Poison Helpline classifies the level of toxicity to dogs as generally mild to moderate.

In addition to avoiding  macadamia nuts, be sure you don’t feed your dog any treats such as cookies that may contain macadamia nuts. Ingestion of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts is an even more serious problem because the theobromine in chocolate is toxic to pets, and the combination of chocolate and macadamia nut toxicity can cause even worse symptoms in your dog.

Ingesting as few as 6 raw or roasted macadamia nuts may cause symptoms in your dog, although the sensitivity appears to vary by dog. If you suspect your dog has ingested macadamia nuts, contact your veterinarian immediately for medical advice. Diagnosis is made based upon a history of eating the nuts. Most dogs will recover after macadamia nut ingestion without specific treatment, although your veterinarian may wish to induce vomiting. Dogs with severe symptoms will need supportive care.

Most nuts are high in fat, can be difficult for your pet to digest causing gastrointestinal upset, and may also be a choking hazard if not chewed properly. Macadamia nut toxicosis is only noted in dogs, perhaps because cats are less likely to ingest macadamia nuts.  However, it is best to be cautious and refrain from feeding macadamia nuts to cats, also.

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