Staffy looking at macadamia nuts.

Can Dogs Eat Macadamia Nuts?
Absolutely Not!

Who doesn’t love crunchy macadamia nuts? This Australian delicacy is in almost all pantries nowadays, but are macadamia nuts suitable for dogs? If you’re wondering if this is a safe food for your pup, keep reading.

Here’s everything the experts have to say about macadamia nut toxicity for dogs.


What Are Macadamia Nuts?

Macadamia nuts, also known as the Queensland nut, is the fruit of the Macadamia tree, originally endemic to Australia. Nowadays, macadamia production has expanded, and the trees are grown around the world in other hot, dry climates, such as in South Africa and California.

These round nuts are high in fats (76 grams per 100 grams of macadamia) and have plenty of B vitamins, making them a favourite in kitchens worldwide.

However, as we have mentioned, some cooking staples are very toxic for your pup. Are macadamia nuts toxic to dogs? Here’s what you need to know:


Can Dogs Eat Macadamia Nuts?

No.

Macadamia nuts are one of the most toxic human foods for dogs, even though other animals don’t seem to be so adversely affected [1].

Unfortunately, researchers aren’t sure about the exact compound that causes intoxication, so there is no specific antidote either. If your dog has eaten macadamia nuts, they will be treated based on their presented symptoms.

While macadamia intoxication in dogs isn’t generally life-threatening, senior or young pups can be at greater risk of complications. Macadamia nuts affect your dog’s nervous system and cause vomiting, meaning your dog would be at higher risk of choking or severe dehydration. If left untreated, this can become serious and threaten your dog’s life.

Macadamia nut in its shell.

Signs of Macadamia Nut Intoxication

Macadamia nut intoxication, also known as macadamia nut toxicosis [2], has diverse symptoms that will change according to the amount consumed as well as your dog’s individual characteristics (weight, size, age, etc). According to Merck’s MSD Manual, the most common symptoms are:

  • Vomiting: This is often the first sign your dog ate something they shouldn’t have. Although a single vomiting episode is usually nothing to worry about, it’s best to call your vet if your dog vomits more than twice in less than 30 minutes.
  • Weakness and/or depression: Usually manifests as general fatigue or “laziness”. These symptoms can also appear as a lack of interest in typically well-received activities like playing, welcoming guests, or eating. If your dog isn’t excited or refuses to engage all together, it’s usually a sign that something isn’t right.
  • Ataxia (wobbly walking) and tremors: If your dog shows an abnormal gait, doesn’t seem to be able to walk or run as usual, or is unable to get up at all, it’s a sign there’s a problem within the nervous system. This symptom is severe and should be assessed by a vet ASAP [3].

Symptoms of intoxication usually resolve within 12 to 48 hours, and dogs return to their usual health at that point. Intoxication doesn’t appear to permanently damage dogs’ health, except in a few rare cases.


How Much Macadamia Is Toxic For Dogs?

The specifics depend on your dog’s size, age, and weight. In most cases, veterinarians only have an approximative calculation of the amount ingested before diagnosis.

According to Merck’s veterinary manual, dogs show intoxication symptoms after eating 2.4 grams of nuts per kilo of body weight. To put that into perspective, a single macadamia nut is usually 2.5 grams. Therefore, a 1-kg dog will show symptoms after eating a single nut!


What To Do If Your Dog Ate Macadamia Nuts

  • Stay calm: Giving into anxiety and panic won’t help your dog. Take a few deep breaths and keep a calm demeanour (even if you’re a mess inside) to avoid stressing out your pup.
  • Try to figure out how much they ate and when: Were the nuts part of an entire dish, or did your dog eat them straight from the bag? How long has it been since they ate it? The first symptoms can take up to 12 hours to appear, so knowing when your dog ate macadamia nuts is a key detail to share with your vet.
  • Call your veterinarian: Regardless of whether your dog is showing symptoms or not, if you know your pup ate macadamia nuts, you need to let their veterinarian know as soon as possible. They will be able to assess the actual risk and let you know if you need to take your pup in for a consultation.
  • Keep an eye on your dog: If your vet gives you the green light, you might need to wait it out at home. Keep an eye on your dog to ensure none of the symptoms worsen. If the vomiting increases or your dog loses the ability to walk properly, take them to urgent care as soon as possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry in these cases!

Are All Nuts Toxic To Dogs?

Not at all.

Although macadamia nuts are toxic for dogs, other nuts are completely safe. You can safely feed peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts, as long as they are crushed to avoid intestinal blockages. Nut butters are also a good option when eaten in moderation.

PRO TIP: Nut butters are especially useful to mask pills or medicine before giving them to your dog. Just put the medicine in a spoon with some peanut butter. They’ll like it so much they won’t even notice they had a pill!

Meanwhile, walnuts are not safe for dogs and should never be fed to them. If you’re unsure about giving your dog a nut variety, do your research first. If you want to find out more, we have a whole article on this topic.


Final Thoughts

Have you ever had a scare with macadamia nuts? Hopefully, with today’s article, it will be easier to plan for food safety in the kitchen. Want to learn more about what types of food dogs can and can't eat?

Check out our full list below:

References

  1. Schmid, R. & Brutlag, A. “Macadamia nut poisoning.” VCA Animal Hospitals. Retrieved February 9, 2023. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/macadamia-nut-poisoning
  2. Gwaltney-Brant, S. November 2022. “Macadamia nut toxicosis in dogs”. Merck & Co, MSD Veterinary Manual. Retrieved February 9, 2023. https://www.msdvetmanual.com/toxicology/food-hazards/macadamia-nut-toxicosis-in-dogs
  3. Hunter, H. & Downing, R. “Ataxia in dogs”. VCA Animal Hospitals. Retrieved February 9, 2023. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/ataxia-in-dogs

Eloisa Thomas


Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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