Can Dogs Eat Chestnuts, Water Chestnuts, Or Horse Chestnuts?

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Can dogs eat chestnuts? You might have heard many nuts aren’t safe for dogs to eat, or they can cause choking hazards. How much truth is there to this, and why are Chestnuts different from other nuts? 

Chestnuts are edible seeds from chestnut trees native to the northern hemisphere. Unless removed, they are usually encased in a prickly outer shell called a burr.

Do you have a sweet chestnut tree in your backyard, and you’re wondering what to do with all of those nuts? You certainly don’t want to waste them! You’ve heard mixed messages about chestnuts and aren’t sure whether or not to eat them yourself, much less feed them to your dog.

How many chestnuts can a dog eat, if a dog can in fact eat chestnuts at all? Is there any special way you need to prepare this strange delicacy? Can a dog have any kind of chestnut, on should you restrict your pup to certain kinds? 

Can Dogs Eat Chestnuts?

Normally these are safe and your dog can eat chestnuts! This is, of course, under certain conditions. The outer shell needs to be removed, and like any nut- a chestnut still poses a choking hazard to smaller dogs. We would recommend crushing these nuts.

Chestnuts are high in Vitamin C, which is great for your dog! They also offer other nutrients, like iron, vitamin B6, and calcium. 

Chestnuts also contain sodium. Too much salt isn’t good for your dog, so you’ll want to keep the addition to your dog’s regular diet at a minimum. You’ll also want to make sure your pet has constant access to clean, fresh, cool water.

can dogs eat chestnuts

What Happens When a Dog Eats Chestnuts?

Can dogs eat chestnuts, and will your dog be ok if he swallows a few?

Your dog will probably be fine with a few of these human grade nuts on an occasional basis! The right kind of chestnuts even offer nutritional benefits. On the other hand, there are a few things you’ll want to remember.

You’ll always want to remove the outer shell! A chestnut shell is hard and can pose a choking hazard. They may seem like a nice & chewy toy to your dog, but there are risks.

You should:

  • Always remove the outer shell
  • Avoid horse chestnuts/conkers
  • Only offer as occasional treat
  • Avoid if dog shows signs of GI upset

Chestnuts are also starchy, containing complex carbohydrates dogs don’t digest in the same way a person does. To many chestnuts at once can cause gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.

can dogs eat chestnuts

What about ‘horse chestnuts’?

Horse chestnuts are surrounded by a spiky outer green shell. These can prove fatal if ingested by a dog! The spiky shape certainly poses a choking risk. Even beyond that, these risky chestnuts contain a dangerous toxin called Aesculin.

Also known as Conkers, these can even cause a blockage along your pet’s GI tract.

Depending on size, a dog would probably need to ingest several of these to encounter dangerous levels of toxicity. Symptoms can take anywhere from an hour to 2 days to appear. These include:

  • Restlessness & discomfort initially
  • Vomiting (possibly severe) & diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Respiratory paralysis & death

Are Chestnuts Poisonous to Dogs?

Can dogs eat chestnuts? Most ‘human grade’ chestnuts are fine for an occasional treat. These normally won’t cause a problem if given in moderation, as long as the outer shell is removed, and they are crushed if necessary.

These normal sweet chestnuts aren’t poisonous to our furry friends. There is still the possibility of a choking hazard if you aren’t careful, and it’s best to avoid giving to your dog if they have no teeth, or missing teeth.

Conkers or horse chestnuts can prove toxic to our fury friends and should be avoided at all costs.

What about acorns? Can dogs eat acorns?

You should never give your dog acorns. These aren’t like regular chestnuts for dogs and can certainly be harmful. 

Acorns contain a potentially dangerous chemical called gallotannin. This strange sounding substance can cause severe GI upset, even leading to kidney/liver damage. Acorns are just the right size to cause a choking hazard for our pups, and enough acorns can lead to GI obstructions, requiring surgery to remove.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked or Roasted Chestnuts?

If prepared correctly, dogs can eat cooked or roasted chestnuts! This should be an occasional treat for your dog to enjoy, like most other human foods.

You should cook all chestnuts before feeding them to your dog! Uncooked chestnuts present a choking hazard. Random fallen chestnuts you might encounter on one of your walks are also potentially hazardous. 

Be sure to avoid cooking or roasting your chestnuts with any extra salt or unnecessary added seasonings. You’ll want to keep your dog’s sodium intake low, and seasonings can often contain harmful ingredients. Avoid things like:

  • Salted chestnuts
  • Chestnuts coated in chocolate
  • Garlic or onion powder
  • Chestnuts covered in sugar

Avoid offering chestnuts if your dog has an allergy or intolerance to nuts. You always want to steer clear of the spiny green exterior shell. This should be removed before cooking anyway. In addition to a choking hazard, those green spines can cause damage in your dog’s GI tract.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Chestnuts?

Let’s say you find some fresh raw chestnuts recently fallen. You figure these might make a nice treat, peeling & removing the spiny green exterior. Can dogs eat chestnuts raw, and what do you have to do in order to make them safe?

Dogs can eat raw chestnuts as long as they are traditional American sweet chestnuts, the outer shell is removed, and they are given in smaller pieces that don’t present a choking hazard. Smaller dog breeds are at a greater choking risk due to their smaller airways, so be careful.

Always remember to:

  1. Remove the spiny outer green shell
  2. Rinse chestnuts before serving
  3. Crush chestnuts to prevent choking hazard
  4. Only serve chestnuts in moderation, as an occasional treat.

Dogs can also eat plain, boiled chestnuts if you’re cooking some and want to share them with your pup.

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BarkZine is a small team of devoted dog owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.

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BarkZine is a small team of devoted dog owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.