Macadamia Nut Toxicosis in the Dog

Filed Under: Dogs, Diet & Nutrition, Poisoning

Want to share those macadamia nuts with your dog? Don’t, unless you want your dog staggering around the house appearing as if he is in a drunken stupor. A toxic dose of roasted macadamia nuts may be as little as one nut per kilogram of body weight in the dog.

Clinical signs begin two to twelve hours after ingestion. In addition to staggering, the dog may appear weak and depressed. Muscle tremors, vomiting, and an elevated temperature may also occur. Dogs are often painful in the joints, muscles and abdomen.

The toxin and mechanism of action for the poisoning are presently unknown. There is no known antidote. Fortunately, the condition is usually not life-threatening. Most dogs recover within 24 to 36 hours after ingestion.

Laboratory findings are non-specific and may include elevated levels of serum lipase (a pancreatic enzyme), serum triglycerides, serum alkaline phosphatase (a liver enzyme) and an elevated white blood cell count. Most of these lab values will return to normal 24 to 48 hours after ingestion of the nuts.

If ingestion of the nuts occurred within four hours, vomiting may be induced to bring up the offending macadamias. Nut absorption may be decreased up to 12 hours following ingestion by giving activated charcoal orally. Any additional treatment is primarily supportive and includes antivomiting medication, antipyretics (drugs that lower elevated temperatures) and fluids. If chocolate was concurrently consumed, the dog may need additional treatment for chocolate or methylxanthine toxicosis.


Gwaltney-Brant, Sharon DVM. “Garbage Ingestion”. NAVC Clinician’s Brief. Vol. 5, No. 6. pp.45-46.

Ettinger, Stephen DVM. And Edward C. Feldman DVM. Veterinary Internal Medicine. 6th Edition. Elsevier Inc. 2005. Pp. 250-251.

Kahn, Cynthia Editor. The Merck Veterinary Manual. 9th Edition. 2005. p.2364.

Topics: nuts, poisoning

Symptoms: muscle tremors, staggering, vomiting, weakness

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