Can Dogs Eat Almonds (and Other Nuts)?
This healthy snack for humans isn't so healthy for your pup. Here's why it's best to avoid them.
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Almonds are a healthy and satisfying snack for humans, but can you share them with your pup? Unfortunately, the consensus is probably not. While almonds aren’t necessarily toxic, they're difficult for dogs to digest, which is why they're on the list of foods it’s best for dogs to avoid (walnuts and macadamia nuts are also on the list). Keep reading for more reasons why your dog shouldn't consume almonds — plus, what to do if they accidentally eat some.
Why Almonds Are Bad for Dogs
Almonds pose lots of health and safety risks for dogs, including:
1. They're a choking hazard.
Although in general, dogs are equipped to chew food in much the same way as humans, they don’t “nibble” almonds like we do. They’re more likely to swallow them whole. So there’s a chance that a nut can become lodged in their windpipe; smaller-sized dogs are especially at risk.
2. They're too salty.
Snacking almonds are often heavily salted and seasoned, which causes us, and definitely our dogs, to become very thirsty (think of those bowls of nuts so many bars generously provide for their customers). Too much salt can lead to water retention, which is especially dangerous for dogs with heart problems.
3. They're high in fat.
Almonds are loaded with fat, which can contribute to a dog developing acute pancreatitis; fat also aggravates chronic pancreatitis.
4. They're high in phosphorus.
The mineral can lead to bladder or kidney stones. Some breeds of dogs, such as the Yorkshire Terrier and Lhasa Apso, are genetically predisposed to kidney stones, and Shih Tzu, Miniature Schnauzer, and Bichon Frise are prone to bladder stones.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Almonds
The answer depends on the size of your dog and the amount and kind of almonds they consumed. If you think your dog only ate a few almonds and they don't appear to be experiencing esophageal obstruction, monitor them for diarrhea or vomiting for 12 hours.
If your dog ate a big bag of almonds, take them to the vet immediately (especially if they're a smaller dog). Your pup might require IV fluids for dehydration and drugs for pain management.
Are All Nuts and Nut Butters Bad for Dogs?
If you give your dog peanut butter (and peanut butter treats), don't worry. These are fine for dogs because peanuts aren’t really a nut, but rather a legume. Still, it’s best not to give your dog individual peanuts, for many of the same reasons you should avoid giving them other types of nuts.
Another thing to keep in mind: Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can be found in several brands of peanut butter, and it can cause dogs serious problems, including hypoglycemia, liver disease, and blood-clotting disorders. So if you give your dog peanut butter (say, in their Kong), make sure xylitol isn’t one of the ingredients. You could also try making homemade peanut butter (it's not as hard as you think). Just remember that nut butter, while tasty and nutritious, is still high in calories: one tablespoon has 98 kcal, which can add up quickly for your dog.
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Claudia Kawczynska was co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Bark for 20 years. She also edited the best-selling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot.