Can I give my dog macadamia nuts

We all love nuts, and macadamia nuts are one of the best. But can dogs eat macadamia nuts as well, and are macadamia nuts safe for dogs to consume? What are the health benefits of giving macadamia nuts to dogs, and are there any side effects? Let's take a closer look at this.

If you've been wondering, “can I give my dog macadamia nuts,” the answer is NO – you cannot feed macadamia nuts to dogs, even in small amounts. Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and can cause a number of health problems in your canine.

Macadamia nuts are very healthy for people to eat and provide many health benefits, no least of which being a very weight-loss friendly food. Unfortunately, you cannot feed macadamia nuts to dogs, even if in theory they may be beneficial to canines in a way.

Let's take a closer look at macadamia nuts for dogs and why that's the case.

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What are macadamia nuts?

Macadamia nuts are actually the fruit of Macadamia, a tree indigenous to Australia. In countries outside of the US, they are also known as bush nut or Hawaii nut.

For people, macadamia nuts provide excellent nutrition because they are full of vitamins and minerals as well as being a great source of healthy dietary fat.

This is what macadamia nuts look like:

What macadamia nuts look like

Sadly, this very nutritious and tasty nut fruit cannot be fed to dogs. It's been shown that macadamia nuts for dogs are toxic, and will cause a number of health problems.

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Macadamia Nuts for Dogs 101
Can Dogs Eat Macadamia Nuts?

No, dogs should not eat macadamia nuts, not even in small amounts. These nuts are poisonous to dogs and will cause toxicosis.

Toxicosis (toxic poisoning) in dogs often occurs as a result of some foods interfering with the biological processes in the canine's body. The general side effects can be anything from minor vomiting to major ones like a dog's death.

While the cause of the toxins for dogs in many foods (including macadamia nuts) remains a mystery to veterinarians and scientists, the side effects of the toxicosis are clearly defined and can place your dog in significant discomfort and stress, at the very least.

Are There Any Benefits of Macadamia Nuts for Dogs?

Can I give my dog macadamia nuts?No, there are no health benefits from feeding macadamia nuts to dogs.

Even though macadamia nuts have been shown to have some great health benefits for people, it's not the same for dogs.

In humans, it can lower cholesterol as indicated by several studies (1, 2, 3, 4); dogs cannot reap the same benefits. But answering the question of “can dogs eat macadamia nuts,” and “can I give my dog macadamia nuts” is easy – a simple NO.

Because macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, scientists and veterinarians are unable to study any potential benefits of macadamia nuts for dogs, nor is there a reason to.

The damaging impact toxicosis has on dogs as a potential result of giving macadamia nuts to dogs far outweighs any small kind of nutritional benefit that these nuts may contain.

What is macadamia nut toxicosis?

Toxin poisoning in dogs hasn't been studied enough to provide good answers, but we do know that some foods are very harmful to dogs, macadamia nuts being one of those.

As far as we currently know, when dogs eat macadamia nuts, a toxin begins to impact the neurological system in their body.

While the symptoms of macadamia nut toxicosis are considered non-lethal, the side effects that occur range from serious discomfort for your dog to hospitalization. Most instances of this toxicosis are resolved within 48 hours.

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7 Potential Side Effects of Macadamia Nuts for Dogs

Side effects of macadamia nuts for dogsThe above brief should be a clear indication that you cannot feed macadamia nuts to dogs under no circumstance because macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs.

Below are the seven potential side effects dogs may experience if they ingest macadamia nuts.

1. Gastrointestinal distress.

Large amounts of macadamia nuts for dogs mean large amounts of dietary fat (which could be good in moderate amounts for dogs) and, most importantly, macadamia nut toxin which leads to abdominal pain, vomiting, and loss of appetite in dogs.

2. Canine pancreatitis.

Macadamia nuts are very high in dietary fats, so feeding large amounts to your dog may result in canine pancreatitis because dogs are not designed to process that much of it.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which causes the pancreas to malfunction.

Pancreatitis causes significant pain and discomfort for your dog. The dog may lose his appetite, his stomach may be tender and swollen, and he may frequently vomit.

3. Lethargy in dogs.

The serotonin levels in macadamia nuts are suspected of having some role in their toxicity to dogs. The more macadamia nuts a dog eats, the more the serotonin levels increase in their body, resulting in mild to severe forms of lethargy.

4. Hyperthermia and fever in dogs.

The toxins in macadamia nuts can result in hyperthermia, a condition where a dog’s temperature becomes dangerously high. Dogs with hyperthermia experience high levels of stress and their other important body systems will suffer. As a result, dogs may experience gastrointestinal, neurologic, respiratory, musculoskeletal, and renal problems.

Dogs may also develop a fever at this stage of the toxicosis.

5. Ataxia (hind limb paresis) and tremors.

Giving macadamia nuts to dogs can cause ataxia and tremors. Ataxia presents as a loss of balance and uncoordinated movement, often manifesting itself in hind end weakness.

Dogs with ataxia may stagger around, fall down, or pace in circles. Tremors and dizziness can also accompany ataxia, further complicating the dog's overall health condition. 

6. Joint stiffness and pain.

Dogs may experience a painful inflammation of the joints after eating even small amounts of macadamia nuts, resulting in stiffness and discomfort. 

7. Pale mucous membranes.

Normal coloration for a dog’s gums should a healthy pink color. Dogs who have macadamia nut toxicosis may have pale mucous membranes which are indicative of a low blood cell count and/or shock.

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More on Macadamia Nuts for Dogs
A Safety Precaution for Owners

Macadamia nut dangers for dogsSince we’ve established the detrimental impact that feeding macadamia nuts to dogs can have on your pet, the next step as a responsible dog owner is to identify possible food products that contain macadamia nuts.

Here are some foods to keep out of reach of your dog:

  • Macadamia nuts
  • Trail mixes
  • Macadamia nut oil
  • Macadamia nut cookies
  • Chocolate covered macadamia nuts
  • Macadamia nut beverages

So you may be thinking that your dog could never get his paws on anything with macadamia nuts in it, but dogs are persistent, stubborn, and clever. Don’t underestimate your dog’s ability to follow his nose and get into food that he wants to eat.

Macadamia nuts actually taste good to dogs and they will rarely say no to them.

Be on the lookout for these signs that your dog may have eaten your macadamia nuts:

  • Chewed-through bags
  • Open bowls or containers of trail mix
  • Cookies left out to cool down
  • Owner (of family/friends) feeding nuts to the dog

What if my dog eats macadamia nuts?

Always consult your veterinarian right away if your dog ingests macadamia nuts or anything that has even a little bit of macadamia nuts in them.

Depending on its severity, macadamia nut toxicosis may require any of the following procedures to hasten your dog’s recovery and avoid further health complications:

  • Induced vomiting
  • Activated charcoal consumption
  • Medication to reduce fever
  • IV fluids

Can Dogs Eat Macadamia Nuts?

Can Dogs Eat Macadamia NutsIn conclusion, dogs should never eat macadamia nuts, even in small amounts.

Pet owners should avoid giving macadamia nuts or any foods that may contain macadamia nuts at all costs due to the toxicosis that can occur even if a little bit is consumed.

Fortunately, toxicosis for dogs is non-fatal in most cases, but your canine will go through some very frightening, confusing, and painful symptoms before recovering.

Prevention is key in this situation. Keep any macadamia nuts or foods containing these nuts well out of your dog’s reach, and provide healthy treats or food items instead.


References and citations

Footnotes, study citations and further reading:

  1. Hiraoka-Yamamoto J1, Ikeda K, Negishi H, Mori M, Hirose A, Sawada S, Onobayashi Y, Kitamori K, Kitano S, Tashiro M, Miki T, Yamori Y. Serum lipid effects of a monounsaturated (palmitoleic) fatty acid-rich diet based on macadamia nuts in healthy, young Japanese women. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2004 Dec;31 Suppl 2:S37-8.
  2. Garg ML1, Blake RJ, Wills RB. Macadamia nut consumption lowers plasma total and LDL cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic men. J Nutr. 2003 Apr;133(4):1060-3.
  3. Curb JD1, Wergowske G, Dobbs JC, Abbott RD, Huang B. Serum lipid effects of a high-monounsaturated fat diet based on macadamia nuts. Arch Intern Med. 2000 Apr 24;160(8):1154-8.
  4. Griel AE1, Cao Y, Bagshaw DD, Cifelli AM, Holub B, Kris-Etherton PM. A macadamia nut-rich diet reduces total and LDL-cholesterol in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women. J Nutr. 2008 Apr;138(4):761-7.

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Sarah is the pet food expert at Top Dog Tips with experience in working, writing and researching the pet food industry, dog foods and canine nutrition. She's dedicated to uncover the truths about how, why and what we use to feed our dogs.