Can dogs eat healthy nuts? You bet. They are good for you and good for your dog. Uncooked, untreated and unsalted, nuts are a good source of protein and a very good source of healthy fat.
Why raw nuts? Anything cooked or processed kills nutrients and high temperatures can change a good fat into a bad fat. And I don't have to talk about salt do I? We all get plenty of that.
Are all nuts created equal? No. Should you or your dog stay away from nuts because they are high in fat? No!
Where we go wrong is in quantity because a few nuts go a long way! A human serving is one ounce - around 1/4 cup and a dog serving is even less. But don't take it off the treat list for either of you.
If you think one raw almond isn't enough, here's my dog Bonz stalking his. He's been known to play with it for a good five minutes before settling down and eating the tiny treasure.
What's in a Nut?
Aha! Good question. Protein, vitamins, minerals and some really good fat. The trick is a dozen are enough for you in a day and ONE is plenty for a small dog!
Almonds - Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E and calcium. They are also rich in monounsaturated fat, one of the two "good" fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol.
My personal favorite healthy nut, I use to eat ten or fifteen raw almonds on my way to work because I never stopped for breakfast and didn't make a fruit smoothie to take with me. The result?
They helped curb my appetite and out of 350 people in my office building tested for cholesterol, I had the 3rd lowest bad and the highest good cholesterol out of all those folks! I see these as a healthy treat for dogs and allow my large dogs two or three almonds a few times a week.
Walnuts - Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids and a good source to help lower cholesterol.They also have potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, zinc, copper, vitamins, A,B,C,and E.
Brazil Nuts - Brazil nuts are 18% protein, 13% carbohydrates, and 69% fat. The fat breakdown is roughly 25% saturated, 41% monounsaturated, and 34% polyunsaturated. The big deal about Brazil nuts is its rich source of selenium, making the Brazil nut rank highly in the healthy nuts category and important on the healthy treats for dogs list.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral necessary for the normal functioning of the immune system and thyroid gland. Selenium is receiving considerable attention for its possible role as an effective naturally occurring anti-carcinogenic agent and may even protect dogs against hip dysplasia.
The fresher the nut, the better. Freshly shelled are the most healthy nuts. Since natural forms of selenium are stored in the body, you don't have to feed them to your dog daily. You can crush one-half of a Brazil nut per day for every 50 pounds your dog weighs. (3-1/2 nuts per week) For a small dog of ten pounds or less, one crushed nut per week is great!
Macadamias are highly nutritious nuts. They have the highest amount of beneficial monounsaturated fats of any known nut. They also contain 9% protein, 9% carbohydrate, 2% dietary fiber, as well as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, selenium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.
Even though Macadamias are healthy nuts, I don't buy them, keep them in my house, or feed them to my dogs. If I eat one, I will eat a pound (15 servings!) and it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Plus they are scrumptious coated in chocolate; a no-no for dogs. (You can read just how much chocolate is bad for your dog)
Note: Someone contacted me quite angry that I was promoting macadamia nuts and chocolate. I said I LIKE CHOCOLATE. Sheesh. And I think macadamia nuts are on someone's dog poison list as well. Too much of anything can be harmful but I find a nut or two a far healthier treat that grocery store or Petsmart dog treats. I personally think Puperoni snacks should be put on the poison list.
Hazelnuts - Hazelnuts are an excellent source of vitamin E, dietary fiber, magnesium, and heart healthy B vitamins. Since Hazelnuts have lots of good fat, a nut a day is great.
What about Peanuts? Peanuts are not nuts. They grow underground and are actually in the legume (bean) family. I tend to stay away from peanuts. Why? Peanuts may be contaminated with the mold Aspergillus flavus which produces a carcinogenic substance called aflatoxin.
If peanut butter is on the menu at your house, I devoted an entire page to the subject and you can find it at (what else?) Peanut Butter for Dogs and I want you to choose wisely.
About Fats - When it comes to fats there are definitely some villains. Saturated fats, trans-fats and hydrogenated oils are no friend to your body, causing increases in heart disease, obesity, cholesterol, disease, and the list goes on. But not all fats are bad.
Uncooked polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids (like in raw healthy nuts) have been shown to reduce the amounts of LDL "bad" cholesterol.
Remember the magic word is RAW. So enjoy a few healthy raw healthy nuts with your family dog once or twice a week, and may health be with you!