Pistachios can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. The high fat content may lead to pancreatitis. Toxicity is usually mild, but can be severe if dogs eat a large quantity. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and abdominal pain. Treatment may include inducing vomiting, stomach protectants, IV fluids, anti-nausea medication, and hospitalization. Prevent access to pistachios and call your vet if your dog eats them.
Pistachios are a popular snack for humans. Their rich, buttery taste makes them hard to resist. For our canine companions, pistachios can also be tantalizing. But what happens if dogs get into the pistachio stash and help themselves to quite a few? Are pistachios bad for dogs?
This article will cover everything you need to know about dogs and pistachios. We’ll discuss:
- Are pistachios toxic to dogs?
- Signs of pistachio toxicity
- How much is dangerous?
- Treatment for pistachio toxicity
- Prevention tips
- When to call the vet
Understanding the risks pistachios pose will help you keep your dog safe if he manages to pilfer the pantry. Let’s explore what happens when dogs and pistachios collide.
Are Pistachios Toxic to Dogs?
Pistachios are not severely toxic to dogs, but they can cause digestive upset. The fatty nut meat, salt, and seasonings found in flavored pistachios may irritate your dog’s stomach. In rare cases, dogs can experience a life-threatening pancreatitis flare up after eating pistachios.
So while pistachios are not poisonous per se, they are not a safe snack for your pup. The rich fat content makes them hard for dogs to digest. Consuming too many at once increases the risk of adverse effects.
Main Risks of Pistachios for Dogs
Here are the primary health concerns associated with dogs ingesting pistachios:
Gastrointestinal upset – Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite may occur. These effects are usually transient but uncomfortable for your dog.
Pancreatitis – The high fat content of pistachios can trigger this serious inflammatory condition in the pancreas. It requires intensive veterinary treatment.
Gastrointestinal obstruction – Whole pistachios can potentially cause a blockage or bezoar if large amounts are eaten.
Nut toxicity – Most nut varieties contain phytonutrients that are toxic to dogs. Pistachio toxicity is mild compared to almonds and macadamias though.
So while a few stolen pistachios likely won’t harm your dog, avoid making them a regular treat. The fat content is difficult for dogs to handle.
Signs of Pistachio Toxicity in Dogs
If your dog eats one or two pistachios, you may not notice any adverse effects. Mild gastrointestinal upset is the most common symptom of pistachio toxicity. After eating a large quantity though, signs may include:
- Excessive drooling
- Attempts to vomit
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
These signs of stomach upset usually begin within a few hours of ingestion. They indicate your dog’s digestive system is struggling to handle the high fat pistachios. Prompt veterinary treatment can often resolve these mild symptoms.
If your dog consumed a large quantity of pistachios, more severe effects may follow 1-3 days later. These include:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Abdominal swelling or pain
These signs are very concerning and require emergency veterinary care. They indicate pistachio toxicity has caused serious damage to your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.
You should always contact your vet if your dog eats pistachios and develops any symptoms of illness. Quick action greatly improves the chances of a good outcome.
How Many Pistachios Are Toxic to Dogs?
The amount of pistachios that leads to toxicity depends on your dog’s size and sensitivity. Some dogs have stronger stomachs and may tolerate small portions without issue. Others are predisposed to pancreatitis and may become ill after eating just a few nuts.
As a general guideline:
- Under 10 lbs – Toxic dose is 5-10 pistachios
- 10-50 lbs – Toxic dose is 10-15 pistachios
- Over 50 lbs – Toxic dose is 15-20 pistachios
Consuming more than these amounts on an empty stomach is likely to cause signs of illness. Of course, every dog is different. Some small breeds have cast iron stomachs, while some large dogs have sensitive digestion.
The bigger risk factor is a dog eating a large quantity of pistachios rapidly. Even big dogs can experience problems if they eat a bowl of pistachios voraciously. Gorging on such high-fat nuts increases the likelihood of severe pancreatitis.
Certain dogs are at greater risk for toxicity, including:
- Small breed dogs
- Puppys with developing digestive systems
- Elderly dogs
- Dogs with chronic pancreatitis
- Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Obese dogs
- Dogs taking certain medications (corticosteroids, potassium bromide)
If your dog falls into any of these categories, be extra cautious. Even a small amount of pistachios could cause problems.
Treatment for Pistachio Toxicity
If you suspect your dog ate pistachios, call your vet right away. Prompt treatment greatly improves the prognosis and can prevent lasting harm.
Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms but may include:
If your dog just ate pistachios within the past 2 hours, your vet may instruct you to induce vomiting at home. This helps quickly expel the nuts before they are digested.
Medications like famotidine (Pepcid) and omeprazole help reduce stomach acid production. They relieve nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
If your dog is dehydrated from fluid losses, he may need intravenous fluids to correct electrolyte imbalances.
Medications like ondansetron (Zofran) and maropitant (Cerenia) control nausea, vomiting, and drooling.
Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements
These supplements help damaged pancreatic tissues recover their normal function.
Medications like buprenorphine provide comfort if your dog experiences belly pain.
For severe toxicity, your dog may need round-the-clock veterinary monitoring and support. Treatment focuses on managing shock, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and pancreatitis.
With aggressive therapy, most dogs recover fully from pistachio toxicity. However, pancreatitis can sometimes cause long-lasting pancreatic insufficiency. Discuss the prognosis with your vet if your dog develops this complication.
Preventing Pistachio Toxicity
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to pistachios. Here are some tips to keep your dog safe:
- Avoid leaving pistachios out unattended
- Store nuts in a secure cabinet your dog can’t access
- Pick up stray nuts that fall on the floor
- Never intentionally feed pistachios as treats
- Choose pet-safe snacks like carrot sticks for training rewards
- Supervise your dog closely if pistachios are being served
- Contact your vet promptly if ingestion occurs
Dogs are cunning when it comes to food, so be vigilant. Just a few unguarded moments could be enough for your dog to gulp down pistachios and land in the ER.
When to Call the Veterinarian
If you know or suspect your dog ate pistachios, contact your vet right away. Describe how many nuts were eaten and any symptoms you observe.
You should always call the vet immediately if your dog shows these signs:
- Repeated vomiting
- Bloody diarrhea
- Signs of shock (weakness, collapse)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Difficulty breathing
- Weak pulse
These signs indicate your dog needs emergency care. Even if symptoms seem mild at first, they can rapidly progress. Waiting to see if your dog improves on his own puts him at risk of life-threatening complications.
When in doubt, call your vet. They can advise you on whether to bring your dog in or recommend home monitoring. Early action provides your dog the best chance of recovery.
Prognosis for Dogs Who Ate Pistachios
The outcome for dogs who eat pistachios is generally good with prompt veterinary treatment. Mild stomach upset usually resolves within 24 hours. More severe toxicity has a prognosis of:
- With treatment within 2 hours – Excellent recovery expected
- With treatment 2-6 hours post ingestion – Good recovery expected
- With treatment over 6 hours post ingestion – Guarded prognosis due to risk of pancreatitis
Dogs who develop acute pancreatitis have a more guarded outlook. This painful condition requires intensive hospitalization.
In rare cases, pancreatic tissue is permanently damaged. This leads to chronic pancreatic insufficiency, requiring lifelong enzyme supplementation and a special low-fat diet.
Overall though, most dogs make a full recovery within a few days if treated promptly. Eliminating access to pistachios is the best way to keep your dog healthy and avoid scary trips to the ER.
While not highly toxic, pistachios can definitely cause stomach upset and pancreatitis in dogs. Their high fat content makes them hard for dogs to digest. The best approach is to keep nuts out of paws’ reach and call your vet if ingestion happens. With prompt treatment, most dogs recover fully and avoid lasting health consequences. Using pet-safe snacks instead of pistachios is the safest plan to show your dog plenty of love.