Nuts and Seeds for Dogs: What are the Benefits?

Nuts and seeds for dogs

Written by Hilary Wilkie

Hilary is a qualified canine nutritionist, who is passionate about educating dog parents on optimal ways to feed their dogs so they can thrive.

10 March 2023

Are Nuts and Seeds Safe for Dogs?

When thinking of nutritious foods to add to your dog’s diet, do nuts and seeds come to mind? If not, they should because nuts and seeds are not only safe for dogs, but they pack a punch when it comes to health benefits. Nuts and seeds are nutrient dense foods that are a great addition to your dog diet’s.

While they are not vital to form a complete and balanced diet for your dog, they offer a whole food source of essential nutrients. Occasionally adding nuts and seeds to your dog’s diet will give them a nutritional boost.

Benefits of Nuts and Seeds for Dogs

Nuts and seeds contain a variety of benefits including:

  1. Essential Fatty Acids: nuts and seeds are sources of essential fatty acids that support many of the body’s functions. These functions include:
    • Brain development
    • Eye development
    • Growth
    • Immune system
    • Joint support
    • Helps lower inflammation
  1. Essential Vitamins and Minerals: in addition, nuts and seeds are rich in an array of vitamins and minerals, including:
    • Vitamin E
    • Magnesium
    • Iron
    • Manganese
    • Selenium
    • Folic Acid

Note:  Pumpkin seeds are known to be a natural de-wormer because they contain a substance that has the ability to paralyze worms.

Nut Recommendations

  • Almonds
  • Pine nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts (technically a legume)

Seed Recommendations

  • Chia seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Linseeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Sesame seeds

To learn more about the nutrient composition of the above nuts and seeds visit New Zealand Food Composition Data.

How to Prepare Nuts and Seeds

Dogs do not have the tools to breakdown and digest plant matter like us omnivores. Therefore, it is recommended that nuts and seeds are grinded similar to blending fruits and vegetables. This increases the opportunity for them to absorb as much of the nutrients as possible from the nuts and seeds.

Preparing nuts and seeds for optimal digestion is a 4 step process:

Soak

Raw nuts and seeds to be soaked to remove the phytic acid, which prevents the body from absorbing the nutrients. Add enough water to cover the nuts and/or seeds

Strain & Rinse

After 12-24 hours strain the nuts and/or seeds and rinse them under cold water to remove any excess phytic acid. Discard the soaking water.

Grind

Use a food processor or coffee bean grinder (cleaned of coffee grounds) to grind the seeds into a fine texture. If fed whole, the nuts and seeds will often go undigested in your dog, which will be visible in their stool.

Store

Store grounded nuts and seeds in a container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Store any excess in the freezer to prevent spoilage.

An alternative method to preparing nuts and seeds include fermenting them. To learn more about that process check out Canine Ascension’s recipe here.

Nuts and Seeds to Avoid and other precautions

Most nuts and seeds are safe to feed dogs, but need to be fed in moderation.

Nuts and Seeds to Avoids

Macadamia nuts, black walnuts, seeds and pits of fruits such as apples, cherries, plums.

Don’t Feed Nuts Whole

Feeding your dog any nut or seed whole, that isn’t prepared as we recommend above, is a potential choking hazard.

Nut and Seed Butters

Check the ingredient panel of store-bought nut and seed butters, as they may contain ingredients, like xylitol, that is not safe for your dog to consume. If you feed store-bought nut butters ensure they ingredients are only the nut and/or seed.

Kibble or Tinned Fed Dogs

If your dog eats a kibble based or tinned food diet check the ingredient panel for nuts and seeds. As nuts and seeds are high in fat, feeding an excess amount may put your dog at risk of weight gain.

Finally, avoid feeding nuts and seeds to fill a nutrient gap, as the amount required might be too high in volume and would be better sourced from an alternative whole food source.

Anecdotal Story to Finish

For two years we had a plum tree in our backyard that produced the smallest of fruits, but the tastiest of treats for Jessie. The number of plums and pits she ate over that time is unknown despite my collecting an endless number of plums while the tree was in fruit.

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