Black Walnuts And Dogs – Should You Be Afraid?

Last Updated on November 11, 2023 by Linda Richard

Dogs love to eat anything and everything as they are omnivores. Yet, some things are definitely ill-advised for canine consumption. For example, black walnuts and dogs – should you be afraid?

Nuts come in various types with some being problematic for dogs while others – perfectly fine (albeit pretty high on fat). What about black walnuts, however? And, if they are toxic, is it the walnut itself that’s the problem or something else in it, like mold?

Black Walnuts And Dogs – Is This Tree Toxic For Canines?

Black walnuts are highly toxic for dogs overall. They are not the most immediately toxic thing for dogs out there, and there are treatment options. However, the risk levels are still moderately high and you should be very wary when your dog is near black walnut trees.

When Are Walnuts Poisonous?

There’s a common misconception that it’s only the nut of the black walnut tree that’s poisonous. Others also believe that it’s just the mold in the nut that causes problems. Yet, it’s the nut and tree themselves are also toxic for dogs as they contain the dangerous mycotoxin Penitrem A. There are studies showing that even nibbling on mold-free parts of the black walnut tree’s bark can cause toxicity in dogs.

That being said, the mold itself is also toxic, particularly the common mold penicillium that grows in black walnuts.

How Much Black Walnut Can Cause Walnut Toxicity In Dogs?

Depending on the dog’s size, overall health, the size of the walnut, and its condition, even a single bite or two can be devastating for a dog. There are numerous reports of dogs dying a mere hour or two after eating a single nut fallen under a black walnut tree. So, suffice it to say that extreme caution should be taken when you notice black walnut trees in the dog park or near your dog walking path.

And, if you see your dog eating even just a single nut, it’s wise to get ready to go to the vet at the sight of any symptom. Even if no symptoms are noticeable yet, it may be wise to go to the vet anyway, in case symptoms start showing on the way there – the worst-case scenario is a wasted trip. The best-case scenario is a saved life.

Read more about Can Dogs Have Cherry Fruits and Juice Or Are They Poisonous?

Symptoms Of Black Walnut Poisoning In Dogs

As for what you should be looking for, there are numerous symptoms that can appear soon (or immediately) after the dog has eaten even a single nut:

  • Restlessness
  • Salivation
  • Panting
  • Incoordination
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (when liver damage is caused by the poisoning)
  • Fever
  • Hyperresponsiveness/hyperactivity
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Eventually – death

We’ve listed those roughly in the usual order of appearance and severity. Every case is different, however, and your dog may not exhibit any symptoms at first before suddenly falling ill with a fever. Regardless, taking action immediately after noticing even one symptom is crucial if you want to save your dog’s life.

walnuts poisonous

What To Do If My Dog Ate Walnuts?

The first and most important thing to do is to get your dog to the nearest veterinarian as quickly as possible. Even if it isn’t your normal vet and you don’t have an appointment – rush in there as you would in an ER. You can try to induce vomiting on the way to the vet (assuming someone else is driving), but you likely won’t have the necessary Hydrogen peroxide 3-percent on hand. Instead of stopping at a pharmacy, you’ll usually be better of going directly to the vet as inducing vomiting will be the first thing they do anyway. Also, note that inducing vomiting yourself in a short-faced Brachycephalic breed (pugs, bulldogs, etc.) is a risky and ill-advised proposition anyway.

Once your vet has induced vomiting in your dog, the next step will be to try gastric lavage and to move the dog on intravenous fluids (if necessary). All this is done in order to flush the toxin out of the dog’s system as quickly and safely as possible. Naturally, in the worst possible cases, the vet will want to keep the dog under observation for a few days.

The standard recovery time for black walnut poisoning in dogs is between 2 and 5 days. That’s only until the dog gets out of immediate danger, however. More recovery will often be needed after that until the dog is back on 100%. So, even when you get your dog back home, you’ll likely still need to keep it on a special vet-approved diet, be careful with the walks, exercise, and playtime, and show your dog extra care and love.

What Are The Recovery Chances Of Black Walnut Poisoning?

We can’t cite a specific percentage as there are no detailed statistics about that. The effects of the poisoning can vary greatly. They’d depend on the dog’s size and condition, on the condition of the black walnut, and the exact consumption. Overall, however, black walnut poisoning can be deadly if left untreated. Even the largest and healthiest dogs can fall to it if you don’t get them to the vet soon enough. And vice versa – if you get to the vet almost immediately, they should be able to save your dog.

How Much Will The Vet Bill Cost?

This varies greatly depending on the dog’s condition and on your location. Generally, in the US, black walnut poisoning treatments can cost anywhere between $500 and $6,000 or an average of around $2,000.

How To Prevent The Black Walnuts And Dogs Problem From Occurring In The First Place?

Black walnuts and dogs just don’t mix. So it’s better to keep your dog away from that tree at all times. If you have a black walnut in your yard, we’d strongly recommend cutting it down. There are thousands of other trees you can plant in its stead.

And, if you see a black walnut in your dog park or elsewhere on your dog walking path, it’s best to avoid it. The nuts themselves can be tossed around away from the tree. Or, they can be buried for your dog to dig out, and there can be branches of the tree tossed around by ignorant dog owners who thought it smart to play fetch with them.

Linda Richard

I know that all dog breeds are different, but Labradors exude a special energy, don’t they? I believe everyone deserves the unconditional love of a pet, so my main goal is to make sure you can experience it.

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