Saturday, December 11, 2010

My dog loves walnuts

In the shell. I'm sure she'd eat them already shelled, but that's not the way we get them around here. I don't remember exactly how it started. But it probably happened when one of us was cracking walnuts at the dining room table. Callie sat and begged. She got a (shelled) walnut to shut her up. Note to self: that never works.

Callie finishes up with a walnut. She'll want another.

Then a walnut in its shell probably fell on the floor and Callie went to work. She knew what was inside and deftly cracked the shell open and licked out the nut meat. She left the shell in pieces on the floor. Soon after that, she began to sit and beg for walnuts each time one of us cracked some. In no time she learned that we kept them in a bowl on the table. I caught her more than once with forepaws on the tabletop, looking longingly at the bowl of walnuts. After a sharp "No!" she would get down. But then she'd get a walnut rolled across the floor.

Now she stands and whimpers under the buffet where the bowl of walnuts sits. Every day. I try to resist, but I can't. I roll a walnut along the floor, Callie chases it down and cracks it open. She gobbles down the nut and leaves the shells on the floor.

For now she's getting the tiny nuts we collected this fall from under the tree in the vineyard. Callie began to stop under that tree during every walk and eat one or two fallen walnuts while either Ken or I was busy stuffing our pockets. She always cracked them open and left the shells behind. But while she's slowly eating up the nuts we collected, we're not without walnuts for cooking; a friend of ours who has a walnut tree in her yard gave us a good supply of nice big walnuts and we are still using them.

I don't know what we're going to do when we run out of walnuts. I refuse to buy walnuts for the dog. I simply refuse. Stop that snickering, Callie.

I just did some internet research and found a lot of sites that say walnuts, especially shells that have gotten wet and grow mold, are poisonous to dogs. They cause all kinds of gastrointestinal problems that lead to vomiting, excessive drooling, and loss of appetite. Callie has shown none of these symptoms. She's not vomited and she eats very healthily. And she's been eating walnuts (sans shells) for months. But still, apparently there's a lot of phosphorous in walnuts that can lead to kidney stones.

You know, it's just like with humans. Everything is bad for you. Every week some study is misrepresented in the news, and many people (especially now with the internet) can get all panicky and go overboard with things, magnifying the risks of anything and everything until they're afraid to step out their front doors.

Dogs have been around for a long time. And so have walnut trees. And, I dare say, dogs and walnut trees have coexisted without great harm to either for thousands of years. The town across the river from us is called Noyers-sur-Cher, which means "Walnut-trees-on-the-Cher." And there are plenty of healthy dogs over there.

So, I'm not going to worry too much.

But I'm also going to stop giving walnuts to Callie. There aren't many left anyway, as I said. I'll give her a doggy treat instead. This isn't going to be easy for either of us.


  1. I've heard the same thing about grapes, but Munson has grazed in the vineyards here without any ill effect. There are some stray dogs which also seem to have grapes as part of their regular diet judging by their stools.

    Munson has also just developed a taste for pistachios...

  2. Bandit love carrots. Go figure! He'll take a whole one, nestle it between his paws and chomp on it likes an ice cream cone.

  3. I'm glad she knows enough not to eat the shell. I can just imagine the damage that sharp shell particle would do to her insides. Does she ever moan and act like she has a belly ache?

  4. "Stands and whimpers under the buffet..." I do the same thing.

  5. My dog Bo loves a lot of things I never supposed dogs would like...Especially tomatoes, the little grape ones. Callie always sounds so delightful.

  6. Next thing you know, she'll want you to make brownies with walnuts for her... or some kind of stir fry with walnuts... or chocolate chip walnut cookies... it would never end! Stop the madness now! :))

    Hugs to that cute Callie :)


  7. I always thought Callie to be a special dog- I'm surprised that she is a nutcracker. I hope the weaning off of the nuts goes well- that wouldn't be my cup of tea.

  8. Callie learned her lessons well in Puppy School--get something good, then escalate the demands.

    Mine likes cucumber slices and crunchy lettuce stems. And carrots. Maybe Callie would, too?

  9. You haven't taught Callie to clean up her empty shells?

  10. mike, interesting. Callie has never been attracted to grapes.

    rick, Callie liked carrots when she was a pup, but now doesn't seem to be interested in them any more.

    cubby, she did that once, when she was a very small puppy. She had an intestinal blockage and needed surgery. The vet said it wasn't from anything she ate, it was an infection that swelled an organ and squeezed her intestine closed. Yuk!

    alewis, and what do you get for doing that?

    kristi, :)

    judy, chocolate is a no-no for dogs, but she might like a stir-fry!

    evelyn, I just keep telling her that they're all gone and give her a doggy treat instead.

    emm, like I said above, she doesn't like carrots any more. But I'll have to try cucumbers!

    starman, d'oh! I never thought of that!

  11. Tomatoes are supposed to be bad, even fatal, for dogs, & my terriers have been eating them off the vine, without my permission, for years.

  12. My german shepherd used to eat walnuts that fell from our walnut tree. She lived a long and happy life! Apparently the problem is not the walnut itself, but the mould - and my doggie was more than happy to get the fresher nuts and leave the mouldy ones aside.

  13. My little dog loves fresh cracked walnuts. She doesn't get them everyday but she is very healthy

  14. Thank you every one! I just gave my dog a few walnuts, then when I was checking out which fruits were safe for him, I saw walnuts can be fatal to dogs or at the very least, need surgery! I couldn't get my card to go through for some unknown reason, and couldn't get any answer from the vet at that site! I was thinking I'd have to take him for emergency appt. to see if he was in danger! Thank you so much for comments. I'll will watch him but I am now breathing a sigh of relief! Thank you everyone! JS

  15. min eat walnuts every autumn. They peel it and eat the nut, not the shell. I never fed them this, they found it themselves and they by the way will eat more from the garden : Apples, pears, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, prunes, and walnuts. I didn't teach them any of this so I assume they know what they are doing ( and they have never been ill so far)


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