Can My Dog Eat Water Chestnut?

Reviewed By Kim •  Updated: 12/28/23 •  9 min read
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Do you enjoy using water chestnuts in your cooking? Are you wondering if water chestnuts are safe for dogs? If so, then you’ve come to the right place!

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We’ve done the research for you on whether or not water chestnuts are safe for dogs. We’ll take a look at what water chestnuts are, where they come from, and of course, if they’re OK for your dog! Let’s get started!

What are Water Chestnuts?

Water chestnuts are not a nut or fruit. They are vegetables that grow in the water in various parts of Asia, Africa, and Australia. They originate from China, where they’re grown in ponds. If you saw one of these ponds, you’d think the plants were water rushes. Instead, the leaves are for the water chestnut. The leaves can stand 3-4 ft above the water.

Water chestnuts are said to have a sweet, nutty flavor.

They include an edible tuber (the water chestnut at the base of the stem), which is harvested as a food product. The tubers resemble gladiola bulbs and have a brown color on the outside. These veggies are part of the sedge family (Cyperaceae) and are only grown in water, not on land.

Water chestnuts are very popular in Asian cuisine and can be found in stir-fries, where the vegetable adds crunchiness to the dish. They’re also used to make sweet drinks and syrups, as well as for their medicinal properties.

These yummy vegetables come canned or fresh and can be readily found in grocery stores (check the Asian food aisle), as well as in health food stores.

This is a common source of confusion for many of us. If you’re confused, don’t feel bad! It’s the name that makes the distinction more challenging.

The answer to the question is no, water chestnuts and chestnuts are not related to one another. Chestnuts are edible seeds that come from chestnut trees. On the other hand, water chestnuts are not a nut or fruit, they’re a vegetable. And water chestnuts are grown in water, not in soil.

So, while the names may sound similar, there’s no relation between chestnuts and water chestnuts.

Nutrients in Water Chestnuts

Water chestnuts, while they seem small and insignificant (aside from their flavor and crunchiness), are a very healthy vegetable. And you’ll be happy to hear, these veggies are low in calories! That’s great news!

Water chestnuts are packed with nutrients including:

What’s more, water chestnuts are packed with antioxidants that work to protect the body from free radicals, which can lead to cancer and other diseases. The very antioxidants that are great for our health are what keep the vegetables crunchy even after it has been cooked.

Since water chestnuts are so healthy, are they safe for your dog, too?

Are Water Chestnuts Safe for Dogs?

The answer is yes! Dogs can safely enjoy these small vegetables! In fact, they’re just as healthy for your dog as they are for you. Those same nutrients can protect your dog’s health, too.

Water chestnuts contain high amounts of water, which can work to keep your dog hydrated. The protein in these veggies creates amino acids, which can help with the repair of skin tissue, muscles, hair, bone, and even their cells. These veggies also contain high levels of potassium, which works to maintain healthy kidneys in dogs. It also works to improve the heart and helps with upset tummies.

These low-fat veggies are also a nice treat for dogs that may be overweight or obese. These are a healthy snack that’s safe for your fur baby.

It’s also important to understand that water chestnuts can be choking hazards for dogs, especially smaller dog breeds. These tubers can also cause intestinal blockage in your dog’s digestive system. So, be sure to cut water chestnuts to a size that’s appropriate for your fur baby. This will be much safer for your dog.

Some human foods are not always recommended for your dog. So, it’s best to consult your vet before serving your dog water chestnuts or other foods. Your vet can determine whether these tubers are safe and healthy for your fur baby.

Do Dogs Like Eat Water Chestnuts?

It may depend on the dog. Some dogs will snarf up veggies pretty quickly, while others will turn their noses up at anything containing plant material in their dog dish.

The only way to really know if your dog would like to eat water chestnuts is to give him some. If he swallows it down, that’s a yes, he likes it! On the other hand, if he turns and walks away, don’t feel bad. Some dogs just prefer animal protein to eat plants!

Be Careful Feeding Your Dog Water Chestnuts

When you give your fur baby human food for the first time, it’s best to start with only a very small piece. This also applies to water chestnuts. The reason is that you’ll need to monitor your dog to see if he develops any digestive issues. These can include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

So, start out slowly, and never make water chestnuts the base of your dog’s daily meals. While water chestnuts are a healthy vegetable, could make your dog sick if he ate too many. And that’s not hard to do!

It’s best to only serve your dog water chestnuts in moderation. This means only feed them to your dog occasionally. Otherwise, he could suffer from diarrhea and vomiting. That’s a mess neither of you will be happy with!

Another issue to be aware of is that dogs should not eat canned water chestnuts. This is because the vegetables may contain high levels of sodium. If your dog has too much sodium, he could end up feeling pretty miserable with vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and more.

If a dog really likes water chestnuts, he will probably prefer the fresh ones. They’re crunchier and fresher! Sometimes it is possible for dogs to be more discerning in what they eat!

And always remember to take the peeling off raw water chestnuts before serving them to your dog. The outer skin of the veggie could potentially become a choking hazard.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Water Chestnuts?

Dogs prefer water chestnuts raw, most of the time. However, they will gladly eat up water chestnuts that have been cooked. Just be sure to give your dog water chestnuts that contain no toxic ingredients for dogs. These include onion, garlic, and more. Also avoid putting any type of sauce, cream, and other ingredients on the water chestnuts. There could be toxic ingredients in these that are not obvious.

The best way to feed water chestnuts to your fur baby is boiled and mashed. You can add them to his dog food once in a while to give him a bit of crunchy, healthy goodness!

How to Fix Water Chestnuts for Your Dog

Start by cutting the top and bottom off a fresh water chestnut, then remove the outer skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut the water chestnuts into smaller pieces. Your fur baby can eat raw water chestnuts, but you may want to steam them for a few minutes. This softens the tubers to make them easier to eat. However, avoid adding seasonings such as garlic or onion, which are toxic to dogs. Water chestnuts are also best served to your dog without salt.

My Dog Ate a Whole Bowl of Water Chestnuts, What Should I Do?

The first thing is to determine whether the water chestnuts were peeled, whole, and raw or canned. If they were canned, there’s the potential for salt toxicity. Dogs and salt don’t mix. If your fur baby has too much salt, he could suffer from sodium poisoning.

Here are the symptoms you may see if your dog develops sodium poisoning:

If your dog shows any of these symptoms (or other concerning symptoms), it’s best to call your vet immediately. This condition can be life-threatening.

To Summarize

Water chestnut is not a nut, but is a type of marsh grass. You’re probably already familiar with this veggie—it’s often found in Asian cooking—those small, white rounded crunchy bits. You can usually find these canned in the foreign food section of the local grocery store. But you may also find them whole, in health food stores. Water chestnuts are typically added to soups, egg rolls or even added to stir fries and other dishes. They’re great because they maintain their crunchiness even after being cooked. These water veggies also include some essential nutrients, such as vitamin B6, copper, manganese and more.

Can my dog eat water chestnuts? Can my puppy eat water chestnuts? Yes! But it’s best to serve them the fresh variety, as canned water chestnuts may contain too much sodium. In addition, water chestnuts are very starchy, and dogs can have a hard time digesting them. Even so, water chestnuts can be a healthy part of your dog’s diet. Before serving fresh water chestnuts to your fur baby, be sure to remove the outer skin first, as it can become a choking hazard. Next, cook them and then make them into a paste, which can then be added to your pup’s regular dog food. What if my dog or puppy ate too many water chestnuts? He’d be OK, but would probably suffer from a stomach ache and diarrhea. So, it’s a good idea to serve water chestnuts as an occasional treat and in small portions.

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Kim is a talented author, who loves animals especially dogs. She engaged in writing books and articles relating to animals a decade ago. Kim resides in Chicago with her husband and son. The family is the proud owner of a dog and a parrot (Jack and Lily). Kim wanted more than these two pets, but her husband put his foot down... She often visits elementary schools to talk to the kids about what she learned about pets and how they could learn from them.

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