My Dog Ate Pistachios With Shells – What Should I Do Now?

This article will cover what to do if your dog eats pistachios with shells. 

The answer may differ depending on the type of pistachios eaten and how many were consumed. For instance, it is typically recommended to induce vomiting in dogs that have ingested more than 10% of a small handful of pistachios with shells, but only if the nuts were not opened first. 

But for pets that just ate one or two, it is advised to monitor symptoms over 24 hours and give water during this time frame.

How Can Pistachios Be Dangerous For Dogs?

The tannic acid produced by the pistachio nutshell may produce gastric irritation and potentially vomiting in dogs. 

In fact, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that this compound can irritate a dog’s stomach so badly that it might cause acute illness.

Toxicity from eating unshelled pistachios isn’t common but does occur. 

While many pet owners do not know of this toxicity risk, some are aware yet still opt to feed their pets these nuts because they have found ways around the problem, such as shelled pistachios or pieces smaller than the size of a quarter. 

If you want to provide your dog with unshelled nuts, make sure that you break them up into small pieces. Also, monitor your dog closely for any signs of illness after giving this treat.

It is also important to note that dogs should not be given pistachio nuts with shells when they are unsoaked since the tannic acid will be most concentrated at this time. 

Tannic acid can also affect a dog’s kidneys, so caution must be exercised if your pet has already had an issue with these organs or another type of disease. If you suspect that your dog may have eaten unshelled pistachios, induce vomiting as soon as possible and then contact your veterinarian for further instructions.

Urushiol In Pistachios

All food products including pistachios come with their own set of nutritional values. 

As such, this dish may have some positive and negative effects on your dog depending on how it is prepared. 

While the number one problem with these nuts may be the pistachio shells, there are other factors that can cause a reaction in your canine friend. For example, the urushiol in pistachios can cause reactions with dogs just as it does with humans who suffer from allergies to poison ivy and its relatives. 

Aflatoxin In Pistachios

Aflatoxin is a chemical that can be found in pistachios and may have a toxic effect on your dog. Consuming this toxin can cause liver damage or death, so it is important to make sure that you only feed your pet the highest quality nuts available. 

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that owners purchase pistachios from their local grocer or health food store rather than purchasing them online from Asian countries because many shipments have been known to contain higher amounts of aflatoxin.

You should also keep in mind that as with any other type of nut, these items are not recommended for dogs who suffer from pancreatitis due to the fact they are high in fat content.

Should Dogs Eat Pistachios?

picture of pistachios

As previously mentioned, the potential health risks associated with eating pistachios are typically more severe in pets that have already had gastrointestinal problems. A pet owner should not feed their dog this food if they find that it causes vomiting or an upset stomach after eating the nuts.

Many people who use natural remedies for their pets prefer to give these nuts to their animals, but they must be aware of the potential toxicity and ingesting methods so as to avoid illness in their pets.

Symptoms Of Pistachio Poisoning In Dogs

dog in bed feeling sick

Dogs that have eaten pistachio shells may display varying symptoms. If you notice your pet displaying any of the following signs after consuming pistachios, contact your veterinarian:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive thirst
  • Salivating
  • Constipation

Although occasional gastrointestinal irritation is likely if ingested in large quantities, an overdose can lead to potentially toxic effects such as abdominal pain and hemorrhaging. 

It’s important for owners of dogs that eat pistachio nuts regularly to be aware of these potential complications.

What To Do If Your Dog Ate Pistachio Shells

If you think your dog has ingested pistachio nutshells, it is important to check the label for information on potential hazards associated with their consumption. 

As previously mentioned, some brands/types will contain significantly higher amounts of tannic acid than others and should be monitored more closely than others. 

Considering this, it is still best to call your veterinarian or poison control for advice if you suspect your dog has eaten pistachios with shells. 

They will be able to ascertain the quantity and type of nuts consumed and provide you with a course of action that is appropriate based on your pet’s circumstances.

Diagnosis Of Pistachio Poisoning In Dogs

If you suspect your dog has eaten pistachio nuts with the shell, it is important to monitor their symptoms. 

Knowing how many they ate and what type of nut they consumed will provide valuable information for your veterinarian or poison control about the amount of tannic acid in their system. 

However, a diagnosis can’t be made until your dog begins exhibiting signs associated with the poisoning.

Treatment For Dogs That Have Ate Pistachio Nut Shells

dog doctor

If your veterinarian determines that the nuts were not opened prior to consumption, they may recommend inducing vomiting in order to remove them from the gastrointestinal tract and eliminate symptoms associated with tannic acid poisoning (gaseousness, diarrhea, etc.). 

If this doesn’t work right away, you may need veterinary hospitalization and possibly even blood transfusions to stabilize your dog. 

On the other hand, if you have confirmed that they consumed pistachio nuts with shells and opened them prior to consumption, you should just monitor symptoms over the next day or two after ingestion and provide plenty of water for hydration during this time frame.

Although it is not common for dogs to eat pistachio nutshells (they usually discard them), it is important that pet owners are aware of potential dangers associated with their consumption in order to be prepared for any situation where a pet may ingest these treats accidentally.

Other Dangers Of Pistachios For Dogs

  1. Pistachios are high in fat, so pets that consume large quantities of nuts can develop pancreatitis. A study published in 2007 found that out of the 15 dogs presented to a veterinary clinic for suspected pistachio toxicity, eight were diagnosed with pancreatitis and five had evidence of tannic acid poisoning.
  2. The shells contain an enzyme (alpha-amylase) that breaks down starch into sugar molecules. If your dog eats enough of the shell, it could cause an intestinal blockage as a result. It is unclear whether or not this happens frequently in dogs because you probably wouldn’t be able to tell otherwise.  Most humans don’t eat raw pistachio shells on purpose anyway!
  3. Pistachios can cause choking hazards in dogs. Grinding down the pistachios into smaller pieces can make this worse for your dog because chewing hard food helps to keep plaque from building up on teeth and gums, which is important for dental health.
  4. The shells can lead to dental issues, which can make eating painful for your dog.  It can also cause them to chew on other things, which leads to bad habit formation and a bigger problem than just dental issues in the future.

How To Prevent Pistachio Poisoning In Dogs

If you are concerned about your dog eating pistachio shells, there are a few steps you can take to prevent such an event from occurring:

1. Keep all nuts out of reach of pets.

2. Store any unused nuts in the refrigerator or freezer (this will inhibit the growth of bacteria).

3. Label your shells with warnings and keep them away from curious pets.

4. If possible, cover opened packages of nuts until ready for use as dogs may be drawn to their smell.

5. Avoid buying premade foods that include pistachios in their ingredients/make sure they’re stored somewhere inaccessible if purchased premade.

6. Talk with veterinarians or pet nutritionists regarding potential hazards associated with feeding nuts to your dog.


As you can see, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers associated with feeding nuts to dogs. 

Although they are packed full of nutrition and delicious for humans, these products may cause some serious complications when consumed by your pet.

So if you have a dog that likes pistachios (or any other nut), just be extra careful. 

Put them somewhere outreach or avoid giving them altogether until your doggy learns not to eat food meant for human consumption! If you suspect they have eaten any, call your vet immediately!

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