Warning: Black walnuts can be toxic to dogs

By: DogTrekker Staff
Photo by Ja Kubislav.

After reading our latest Vet Buzz article on plants that are toxic to dogs, Michelle W. wrote to us about a very common, but relatively unknown danger lurking in your yard. Michelle, a very knowledgeable dog person, was so surprised to find out what made her sled dog, Chloe, sick that she felt it was important to spread the word to others who may not know that black walnuts can be deadly to dogs. 

Walters Family with two dogs

Here’s Michelle’s story:
Sled dogs are notorious food gobblers, and Chloe is no exception. For the past 35 years we have had a large black walnut tree in our yard and all of our dogs have always eaten the walnuts that fall to the ground, so it didn’t worry me when I saw Chloe eating them throughout the winter months. That is, until she broke into intense seizures one evening. We rushed her to the vet, who first asked about snail poison (which we decided was not available to her) and then he asked about walnuts.

Black walnut trees are common in Napa Valley and throughout the area. The walnuts themselves are non-toxic; however, walnuts grow a black mold that can be invisible to the eye and is highly toxic. Apparently, the toxic mold grows on the otherwise benign walnuts after it rains and is most dangerous in spring; but veterinarians see cases throughout the year as buried walnuts resurface and get eaten in summer and fall.

Chloe spent a few hours on IV at our local vet after having her stomach emptied, and then an overnight at Cordelia’s emergency vet clinic. She was not the only dog there who had recently ingested toxic walnuts.

Thankfully, Chloe has made a full recovery. However, due to this incident we’ve changed the fence structure of our entire yard, keeping the dogs away from the walnut tree.

Thank you to Michelle for sharing this important information. If you’d like to submit a story to DogTrekker, click here.


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