Can Dogs Eat Water Chestnuts?

As dog owners, we have a nurturing desire to share the things we love with our dogs, especially food. 

However, we are not always sure about the safety of some of our foods for dog consumption.

If water chestnuts are your thing you will probably find yourself wondering – as your pup looks at you longingly – can dogs eat water chestnuts? 

Many dog owners ask this question about this unfamiliar vegetable which is native to Asia, Africa, and Europe.

We share with you a comprehensive guide on what water chestnuts are and if dogs can eat water chestnuts. 

We also discuss any possible health benefits and how to feed water chestnuts to your dog.

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dogs eat water chestnuts

What Are Water Chestnuts?

Water chestnuts aren’t typical ingredients you would put in your dog’s food, but it’s a prominent ingredient in Chinese cuisine.

It is a type of marsh grass that resembles a chestnut shape, but they are not actually nuts.

Indigenous to Southeast Asia, water chestnuts are those small, white, crunchy bits you usually find in your Asian dish.

Water chestnuts are available fresh and canned, although the latter is much easier to find in stores. They are also sold in some health stores.

Fresh water chestnuts also require their top and bottom parts to be cut off, as well as the skin peeled.

If you’re wondering what they taste like, imagine a mix of fruity, nutty, and delicately sweet, like a cross between an apple and coconut.

Water chestnuts are popular to use in meals because they stay crunchy even after being cooked.

They are used in recipes like stir-fries, soups, egg rolls, classic bacon appetizers, and creamy spinach dips.

Water chestnuts are not something that pet owners would usually let their dogs eat.

However, since it’s commonly found in Asian cuisine, some might be asking if the family pet can have a taste of your leftovers that has water chestnuts in it.

Can Dogs Eat Water Chestnuts?

If the whole family is trying pork and water chestnut rissoles for the first time, can you let your dog have a bite too?

Your dog or puppy can eat water chestnuts in both fresh and canned form, although the fresh ones are a better option.

The tinned variety of water chestnuts usually contains high amounts of sodium and preservatives just like many other canned goods.

Water chestnuts are nutritious as they have nutrients like fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, and vitamin B6.

Although they have various health benefits, the water chestnut is also starchy, so offer them in small quantities to your dog. Otherwise, they may have a hard time digesting it.

As with any other human food, water chestnuts shouldn’t be fed to dogs daily or frequently.

Will your dog like water chestnuts? Your dog will adore the crunchiness of this food, so make sure not to overindulge them.

How to Feed Water Chestnuts to Dogs

Dogs will most excitedly eat water chestnuts in their raw form due to their crunchiness.

But the safest way to feed them to your dog is by removing the outer skins first and cooking them until a soft and smooth paste forms.

You can also let your dog try dishes with water chestnuts in them, as long as they do not include other ingredients that are toxic to dogs. And ensure you only give them small amounts.

When picking fresh water chestnuts, look for those that are firm and unwrinkled. Otherwise, they can be mushy.

Unpeeled water chestnuts can be kept for about a week in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.

Are Water Chestnuts Nutritious for Dogs?

Water chestnuts are healthy for your dogs. Here are some nutrients that your dog can benefit from.

These aquatic tuber vegetables are a great source of antioxidants to help with your pooch’s immune system. Antioxidants prevent free radicals that contain harmful molecules.

They are also very low in calories, but high in nutrients like fiber, protein, copper, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6. All these are found in a 60-calorie vegetable!

The potassium in water chestnuts also helps in maintaining your dog’s kidney function, as well as their heart health.

Remember to feed fresh water chestnuts to your dog if you want to maximize these benefits. 

After all, the tinned variety usually has too much sodium which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and even sodium ion poisoning.

Sodium-Ion Poisoning in Dogs

Salt, while commonly used for cooking in the kitchen and found in canned goods, is potentially toxic to dogs. That is why it is best to avoid canned water chestnuts.

Too much sodium ion in their blood can lead to poisoning, especially if they have no fresh water to drink.

Sodium-ion poisoning in dogs can lead to vomiting, decreased appetite, diarrhea, in-coordination, lethargy, excessive thirst, and excessive urination.

Severe symptoms include tremors, coma, and even death.

Go to the vet immediately if you see signs of salt poisoning in your dog. They will probably be admitted for oxygen, IV fluid therapy, and electrolytes to manage dehydration.

Can Dogs Eat Horse Chestnuts?

Water chestnuts are different from other chestnuts. Most chestnuts are toxic to dogs, but water chestnuts are made of marsh grass instead of actual nuts, so they are safe for canine consumption.

However, horse chestnuts are poisonous to dogs because they have a neurotoxic glycosidic saponin called aesculin.

Aesculin is found in all parts of the tree including the leaves and nuts.

It is rare for dogs to encounter chestnut poisoning as toxicity requires ingestion of moderate to large amounts. Also, dogs may not like chestnut so much that they eat such large quantities.

In low doses, the toxic element can cause gastrointestinal issues in dogs. At higher doses, it can affect their nervous system.

Symptoms of horse chestnut poisoning in dogs include the following:

  • coma
  • depression
  • diarrhea
  • dilated pupils
  • drooling
  • extreme thirst
  • hyperactivity
  • lack of coordination
  • lethargy
  • seizures
  • tremors
  • vomiting.

Should I Give Water Chestnuts to My Dog?

Water chestnuts are typically found in Asian cuisines, but it’s a great addition to your dog’s diet from time to time! 

They are a type of marsh grass that is found in the grocery store’s foreign food section or in health stores.

These aquatic tuber vegetables are rich in antioxidants, potassium, fiber, and other nutrients that are beneficial for Fido. They are also low in calories!

Take note that water chestnuts are different from horse chestnuts. The latter is toxic to dogs because of an element called aesculin.

Opt for fresh water chestnuts instead of the tinned variety to avoid sodium ion poisoning in your dog. Feed in small quantities, and either raw or cooked in a paste.

Learn what else you can feed your dog aside from dog food and how you can get your old dog to eat now!