My Dog Ate Pecan Pie! Should I Be Concerned?

A slice of pecan pie
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Everyone loves themselves a slice of pie.

Dogs won’t be the ones to turn down a piece if the opportunity presents itself. If by some chance you dog ate pecan pie, is it something you need to be worried about?

Pecan pie is a holiday favorite that comes down to its tasty combination of ingredients and “feel-good” flavor. However, it is also high in sugar, fat, and of course pecans, which can all have a detrimental effect on your dog.

There are three main ingredients in pecan pie that make it a potentially dangerous treat for your dog: the pecans themselves, and the amount of sugar and fat that is typically added into the baked delight.

If your dog had just one bite of pecan pie, it will likely be ok. The sugar and fat may be too rich for its stomach and result in diarrhea and vomiting, but those are mild symptoms.

However, if it had a lot of pecan pie, or ate other high-calorie foods along with the pie, you will need to keep a close eye on your dog. Too much fat in one sitting can cause a sudden case of pancreatitis, for which you would need to take your dog to the vet immediately.

Also, if a dog eats a lot of fatty food consistently it can be at risk of weight gain, which will eventually lead to other problems like metabolic changes, obesity and diabetes.

What Are The Common Ingredients Inside Pecan Pie?

Though ingredients will differ based on each baker’s preferences, the usual ingredients of pecan pie include:

  • Pecans
  • White sugar
  • Dark corn syrup
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Eggs
  • Pie shell/crust

As you can see from that list, pecan pie is not exactly a low-calorie, diabetic-friendly treat- even for humans.

Are pecans a safe option for dogs?

Pecan nuts

Nuts are typically a nutrition snack rich in protein for humans, but they are not always a dog-friendly treat. If your dog occasionally gobbles up a pecan that has fallen onto the floor, there will likely be no serious issues.

However, in my humble opinion, it would be best if you did not share pecans or pecan products with your dog. It’s just not worth the risk due to a couple of reasons shown below.

What Are The Dangers Of Pecans For Dogs?

Generally, pecans are very high in fat even in small amounts.

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3129/2
Data gathered from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3129/2

As you can see, in every 28 grams (one ounce) of pecan nuts, 75% or 20 grams consist of fats.

In fact, pecans have the highest amount of calories when compared to other common types of nuts:

Nut Type

Calories (kcal*/100g)

Almonds, blanched

590

Almonds, dry roasted, unsalted

598

Cashews, dry roasted, unsalted

574

Cashews, raw

553

Peanuts, dry roasted, unsalted

587

Peanuts, raw

567

Pecans, dry roasted, unsalted

710

Pecans, raw

691

Pistachios, dry roasted, unsalted

572

Pistachios, raw

560

Walnuts, English raw

654

*Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central database, standard references

If your dog were to eat a lot of pecan nuts or pie, it could be at serious risk of gastric intestinal upset, intestinal inflammation or pancreatitis. Such a high level of fat may also be hard for a dog to digest and cause stomach distress and diarrhea.

Pecans can be considered toxic to dogs because they contain a compound called juglone. Though not harmful to humans, nuts that contain juglone can be dangerous to dogs, affecting their nervous system and causing symptoms such as:

  • Panting
  • Loss of balance
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Excessive salivation
  • Restlessness
  • Extra sensitivity to stimuli
  • Seizures
  • Convulsions

Pecans are also prone to growing a particular type of mold called the aspergillus fungus, especially if they have been kept in moist conditions. Aspergillus produces a toxin called aflatoxin, and this is the most worrisome pecan-related issue for dogs.

If even slightly moldy pecans are used to make the pie, your dog can be significantly affected due to their sensitivity to the toxin.

In milder cases, aflatoxin will cause weakness and loss of appetite in dogs. In more serious cases, the toxin can cause vomiting, depression, internal bleeding, bloody stools, jaundice, liver failure- and even death.

If your dog shows any of these symptoms, it would be highly advised to take it to the vet immediately for treatment. While there are no specific antidotes for aflatoxin poisoning, the vet will be able to provide effective supportive procedures.

This could include pumping the dog’s stomach with fluids in order to try to flush out any remaining nuts. Activated charcoal may also be used to bind any free toxins that have not yet been absorbed into the bloodstream so that they can be excreted safely.

IV fluids are also commonly used to boost liver and kidney function. Again, this will help the dog’s body to flush out any residual poison in its system.

Medications that may help a dog to metabolize and excrete aflatoxins more efficiently such as N-acetylcysteine could also be administered.

Finally, pecans come in irregular shapes, sizes, and textures, so it is possible for them to be a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockages, especially if your dog is a smaller breed.

However, unless the pecan pie in question was made with large, whole pecans, this is unlikely to be a big problem in this particular situation.

If the physical aspect of pecans does cause issues such as pyloric obstruction or Intestinal blockage, emergency surgery would be necessary to remove the offending object. Of course, any time that surgery is required, death is a distinct and unfortunate possibility.

Why Is Sugar Bad For Dogs?

If your dog ate a whole pecan pie, it would probably be in some trouble

Sugar is another ingredient in pecan pie that can have a very negative impact on your dog.

There is much more sugar and syrup in the pie than there are pecans, so it is important to pay close attention to the total sugar intake in your dog’s diet.

Sugar can cause an upset stomach in dogs as it causes an imbalance between good and bad gut bacteria. This can result in problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. Though this isn’t fatal in dogs, it can be very uncomfortable for them to go through, as you can imagine.

Another downside of consuming sugar is the cavities that come along with it. That means things like candies and sweet drinks should never be given to your dog.

The sugar in pecan pie is used by bacteria in the mouth to produce acids. These acids then eat away at the enamel and coating of your dog’s pearly whites, leading to decay and bad breath.

Besides brushing your dog’s teeth, an even better way of keeping your dog’s teeth strong and healthy is simply not to feed it pecan pie!

Refined sugar and corn syrup in pecan pie is full of empty calories, which will cause weight gain even if it is eaten in moderate amounts.

Most recipes call for both syrup and sugar to be added, and on average a cup of each is used. That’s roughly 170 to 200 grams of sugary goodness; 680 to 800 calories in each pie just from the sugar content!

Not only will sugar cause weight gain in dogs, it will eventually lead to problems like gastric intestinal upset, metabolic changes, obesity and diabetes- issues that could negatively affect your dog for the rest of its life.

Unnecessary weight will put stress on joints and lead to other health complications down the road. If your dog constantly eats treats like pie, it will inevitably experience joint problems, heart disease, difficulty breathing, and lethargy.

If the obesity becomes too severe and your dog continues to gain weight from excessive intake of treats like pecan pie, it can then develop diabetes.

When dogs contract Type II diabetes, it will be unable to process sugar at all due to the pancreas’ inability to produce insulin.

If your dog ate pecan pie with artificial sweeteners substituted for sugar, it would bring on a whole different host of problems.

Xylitol in particular would cause severe health conditions if ingested. Xylitol releases a big rush of insulin in dogs that can cause a rapid drop in blood sugar, resulting in seizures, liver failure and even death.

What About The AMOUNT OF FAt In Pecan Pie?

Other than the already high levels of fat contained inside pecans, the pie itself also has plenty of other sources of fat included, such as butter and lard.

The exact ingredients that make the pie so delicious are also the same ones that make it so hazardous for canines.

In the above sections, we’ve already written about the dangers of pancreatitis and weight gain and the negative effects that they will have on your dog’s short and long-term wellbeing. Additional sources of fat will only make matters much worse, much more quickly.

If the fat source is dairy-based (i.e. butter), your dogs may also find the pie even harder to digest.

This is because dogs are naturally lactose intolerant, and those with more serious cases of intolerance can experience reactions such as gastric intestinal upset, indigestion and diarrhea.

Do Pecans Offer Any Health Benefits To Dogs At All?

Pecan nuts are full of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and beneficial vitamins and minerals. They are especially high in vitamins A, E, and K as well as being a good source of potassium and calcium.

Pecans are also known to reduce bad cholesterol as they have omega fatty acids and they also contain many antioxidants that can improve dog health in theory.

However, here’s the caveat: your dog would need to eat a significant number of pecans to realize these health benefits like humans do.

Eating such a high number of pecans is a double-edged sword for dogs. While it is undeniable that they would gain some health benefit, this would be nullified by the negative aspects of the nuts.

Overall, the benefits that could be gained are not worth all the negative effects which could arise.

Are any other types of nuts safe for dogs?

Different types of nuts

Vets generally do not advise any type of nuts for canine consumption, though some are fine to feed in moderation.

The first rule when it comes to feeding nuts to dogs is to always choose unsalted and unflavored options! They are already not easy for dogs to digest as it is, and any additional seasoning just makes it even more of a burden on your dog’s digestive system.

Almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts are not considered to be as harmful to your dog as pecans are. In fact, peanut butter is often touted as a helpful training tool and suitable occasional dog treat (as long as it doesn’t contain xylitol or salt, of course).

Hazelnuts are typically fine in a nutritional sense, though their round shape can make it difficult for dogs to chew and therefore carry the risk of being a choking hazard. In smaller dogs, whole hazelnuts may also cause internal blockages as they are harder to digest.

Other nuts like hickory nuts, macadamia, cashews, pistachios and walnuts are toxic to your dog. Acorns are also another type that you’ll want to keep your dog away from. If your dog eats any of these types of nuts, they may experience symptoms such as vomiting, muscle weakness, diarrhea, and seizures.

It is important to remember that no matter what type of nut, they all have high fat content. Therefore, only feed your dog a few nuts as a very occasional treat to keep them from experiencing GI upset or worse after-effects.

Nut dangers to dogs infographic
Credit to: https://www.petinsurance.com/healthzone/pet-health/pet-toxins/nut-dangers-to-dogs-infographic/

In Summary

Pecan pie is definitely not a healthy option for your dog to eat. With its seriously high fat and sugar content, it can make your dog experience stomach pain, indigestion and diarrhea.

This is not to mention that pecans themselves can be toxic to dogs. If they only ate a small piece of pecan pie with little pieces of pecan, they will most likely be alright.

However, if they managed to eat a large quantity of pecans, a compound inside the nuts called juglone can negatively affect your dog’s nervous system.

Pecans are also one of the fattiest nuts out there, and that can be an obvious problem for dogs in terms of weight gain and pancreatitis. Make sure you don’t give dogs pecans if you can help it!

If your dog managed to eat a large slice of pecan pie in one sitting, keep a close eye on it for symptoms such as restlessness, excessive salivation and convulsions. If you see any of these signs, take your dog for treatment by a vet immediately!

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