Sharing food with our dogs is a great pleasure for many of us. But it can be challenging to know what we can and can’t split with our dogs.
Almonds belong to this camp. There is a lot of debate as to whether almonds are toxic to dogs or not. So we’ve uncovered the facts about this nutty conundrum.
Are almonds bad for dogs?
The answer is yes and no. The confusion lies in the fact that there are two types of almonds. Almond trees produce either sweet almonds or bitter almonds depending on the kind of tree.
Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis produces the sweet almond whereas Prunus amygdalus var. amara produces the bitter almond. Sweet almonds are non-toxic to both humans and dogs and are the ones that are commercially available. Not only are sweet almonds the ones that we snack on but they are also used in almond products like nut butter and nut milk.
In contrast, bitter almonds contain high amounts of a cyanide compound and are highly toxic. Bitter almonds are not typically sold in the US, and they are banned in the UK. However they are available online but should be clearly labelled as bitter almonds.
Can dogs eat almonds?
So, if sweet almonds aren’t toxic can dogs eat them? Well, in theory, yes they can. But nuts can still cause unpleasant digestive issues including upset stomach, diarrhoea, vomiting and possibly pancreatitis.
Nuts, including almonds, are not a part of a dog’s natural diet and as such are hard on a dog’s digestive system.
Not only that, but almonds are high in fat which can lead to long-term health issues for our dogs. As a diet high in fatty foods have been linked to pancreatitis which can vary from mild indigestion to a life-threatening condition.
The dangers of almonds for dogs
In addition to the long-term health risks that almonds can contribute to there are also more immediate risks to consider.
As dogs don’t digest almonds very well, they can suffer from extreme stomach upsets like gastroenteritis after eating them. Symptoms include
- Loss of appetite
- General discomfort
To make matters worse, some foods fall into a middle ground where there doesn’t appear to be a definite answer as to whether it will negatively affect our dogs.
What’s more, nuts present a choking and obstruction hazard especially of you have a dog that doesn’t chew.
Almonds can cause blockages in the windpipe, oesophagus and intestines and this is a greater risk if your dog is small.
Finally, almonds are available with added flavourings, including salt and spices that are unsuitable and potentially harmful to dogs. So care is needed to make sure your dog doesn’t eat any of these.
Can I give my dog Almond Butter
Since Almonds are not toxic to dogs, many people are tempted to use the nut butter form of almonds as an alternative to peanut butter.
Despite almonds being nutritionally rich in protein, Vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fibre not all dogs can tolerate the high-fat content.
If you do want to give your dog almond butter, try a small amount first. Also, make sure that the almond butter you buy does not have any additional ingredients or artificial sweeteners that can be deadly for dogs.
Can I give my dog Almond Milk?
Although almond milk is a much-diluted form of almonds, the same rules apply. Too much can cause stomach upsets and make your dog miserable.
Almond milk is much more likely to have additional ingredients added to it as well. So it’s vital you check the ingredients thoroughly before offering it to your dog.
There really isn’t much nutritional benefit to your dog of drinking almond milk. And it certainly shouldn’t be given to puppies. As such it’s best to steer clear and stick to plain water for your dog’s drink.
What should I do if my dog has eaten almonds?
Dogs can have varied reactions to new food. If your dog has eaten a just a few almonds and doesn’t seem to be choking, gagging or having trouble breathing it’s likely that they will be OK.
However, if your dog has eaten a lot of nuts the most efficient way to prevent stomach and digestive issues is to induce vomiting within thirty minutes of ingestion.
This is best done with the help of your vet who can ensure this is done in an entirely safe way minimising stress to your dog.
If you r dog has eaten another type of nut then consult your vet immediately. As some nuts like walnuts are toxic and your dog will need immediate care.
Can dogs eat almonds?
Yes, almonds can be eaten in small doses. As almonds aren’t toxic, a few almonds or a little bit of almond butter can be a tasty treat.
If you do decide to share almonds with your dog make sure that they are plain and unflavoured. The same goes for almond butter where care needs to be taken to ensure no added ingredients are present like artificial sweeteners.
However, due to the potential risks of stomach upsets and long-term conditions of a high-fat diet like pancreatitis nuts are not a good addition to your dog’s diet.
As there are so many other foods that are safe and offer your dog better nutritional content, it’s best to stick to foods that are completely trouble free and keep your dog away from nuts altogether.