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Pistachios are a household favorite for a reason. This green nut is tasty, healthy, and pretty affordable. But can your dog eat pistachio nuts? The short answer is sure, they can have a few bites, but only under certain conditions and if you get an OK from your veterinarian. Let’s take a crack at when dogs can and can’t have pistachios as a treat.

Health Benefits of Pistachios

Legumes are often overlooked for their nutritional value. They are full of healthy fats, low in carbohydrates, and high in dietary fiber. A full serving of pistachios contains:

●      Vitamin C

●      Manganese

●      Calcium

●      Iron

●      Potassium

Bear in mind that a full serving for humans is not the same as a serving for dogs. It’s important to monitor how many calories your dog consumes every day before adding snacks like pistachios into their treat rotation. While the green nut is very nutritious, they have a high caloric value for dogs.³ Excess calories from human foods can lead to obesity and obesity-related diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, and cancer.

The Dangers of Pistachios for Dogs

The trouble with pistachios — or nuts in general — is that dogs don’t chew their food as well as humans do. Dogs tend to gobble their treats down, rushing to get the yummy morsel into their mouths. Nuts have tough exteriors which, if not chewed properly, can get lead to digestive upset.⁵ Sometimes the nuts don’t digest in the dog’s stomach, or it can even get stuck in their intestinal tract. This is one reason why pistachios shouldn’t be given in large amounts to your family pet.

Pistachios are high in fat

The fats in nuts may be easier on the body than in red meats, but pistachios may not be the best option as a treat for their high fat content. As previously mentioned, nuts are high in healthy fats that support muscles, but too much can lead to health issues. Overall, your dog can go without pistachios in their diet as excess fat in canine diets can lead to diseases such as pancreatitis.

Pistachios can contain toxic mold

Aspergillus is a toxic mold that is present in plants such as corn, hay, and wheat. Packages of pistachios can carry aspergillus mold which could make their way into your and your dog's bodies. Ingesting aspergillus leads to aflatoxin.⁷ Signs of aflatoxin include jaundice, vomiting, lethargy, liver failure, and a loss of appetite.

Rest assured that this type of exposure is rare due to careful monitoring by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The best practice is to wash nuts, fruits, and veggies before sharing them with your dog. Do explore dog insurance options that may cover the cost of accidental exposure to an everyday toxin.²

Pistachio shells are a choking hazard

Shell-less pistachios are the best option if you do choose to share nuts with your dog. As noted above, dogs tend not to chew their food as well as people, and shells are especially difficult for dogs to chew. Avoid giving pistachio shells to your dog so they don’t obstruct their intestines.

How Can I Feed Pistachios to My Dog?

In order to give your dog pistachios or any nuts, be sure to carefully wash them in warm water to remove potential mold spores. Offer clean pistachios to your dog in your hand or toss them around for them to chase. If your dog likes to burrow, try hiding the nuts in plastic toy tunnels for them to hunt.

Can dogs eat pistachio ice cream?

Maybe. Both pistachios and ice cream aren’t harmful to dogs, but many dogs experience lactose intolerance.⁸ Ice cream is also high in sugar and fat, which can lead to obesity in dogs. With that in mind, a few licks of ice cream are probably something you shouldn’t allow.

Pistachios Aren’t the Best Treat Option

Pistachios are full of wonderful nutrients. While they are great additions to the human diet, they don’t offer much benefit to a dog’s diet than other less-risky additions. It is very important to provide pets with a variety of foods to avoid boredom, keep them healthy, and make them feel included in our lives.

Pistachios can introduce unnecessary risks to these goals. Adding pet insurance to your toolkit will support the care you already give your dog in case they eat something they shouldn’t. MetLife¹ Pet Insurance can cover the majority of expenses associated with veterinarian care.2

Protect your Dog

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 “Can Dogs Have Nuts?,” PetMD

4 “Obesity in Dogs: A Major Health Threat Hiding in Plain Sight,” American Kennel Club

5 “Can Dogs Eat Pistachios?,” The Daily Paws

6 “Pancreatitis in Dogs,” American Kennel Club

7 Aspergillosis in Dogs, VCA Hospitals

8 “Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?,” American Kennel Club