Nuts are a wholesome and healthy human snack. If you often have almonds and other nuts around the house, you may wonder - what will happen if my dog gets into them? As many dogs love eating what their owners are eating, you may wonder can dogs eat almonds? Are almonds good or bad for my dog?
Can Dogs Eat Almonds?
Almond nuts are not toxic to dogs when consumed in small quantities, but there are more risks than benefits. Many vets do not recommend that you feed almonds to your dog. Read on to learn more.
Health Benefits of Almonds
Almonds are popular because they are full of health benefits and taste slightly sweet. They help promote weight loss, reduce cholesterol levels, and lower blood sugar. They are full of vitamin E, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease. They are rich in magnesium, which works to lower blood pressure. Almonds are a good source of fiber, protein, antioxidants, and healthy fats. The same nutritional benefits apply to both humans and dogs. However, the risks of eating almonds outweigh these health benefits with dogs.
Why You May Want To Avoid Feeding Your Dog Almonds
Some nuts are toxic to dogs, such as macadamia nuts, walnuts, and pecans. Almonds are not toxic, but there are other reasons why it is not recommended and is potentially dangerous for a dog to eat almonds. Nuts of any type are not a natural part of a dog's diet, and problems can occur. Here are some of the dangers of almonds for dogs.
Almonds are unlikely to cause significant indigestion problems in large breeds of dogs, but toy breeds and puppies could have marked gastrointestinal upset and a serious intestinal blockage.
Flavored almonds, on the hand, can irritate your dog's stomach as it contains artificial flavors and other additives that can be harmful to your dog's health.
Dogs bite and swallow, and they rarely actually chew their food. Particularly in toy breeds and puppies, there is a concern that consuming whole almonds can lead to blockage of the esophagus and windpipe, potentially leading to death.
Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to tree nuts, and a tree nut allergy is typically dangerously reactive. Even a single almond can lead to coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, and hives.
Packaged almonds and packaged nuts are often heavily salted and sometimes include artificial flavors. All of this salt can lead to salt toxicity and fluid retention. Fluid retention is particularly dangerous to dogs with heart and kidney concerns.
Almonds are rich in phosphorus. Phosphorus can increase the likelihood of kidney stones and bladder stones. If these stones aren't removed, the kidney or bladder could rupture and lead to death.
Almonds have a high-fat content. In dogs, this can lead to pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is marked by a loss of appetite, abdominal pain, lethargy, dehydration, difficulty breathing, fever, heart arrhythmias, weakness, weight loss, diarrhea, and vomiting. It can eventually lead to death.
Certain crops and nuts, including almonds, brazil nuts, and pistachios (learn about dogs & pistachios), can contain aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are a poisonous substance caused by the common Aspergillus mold that causes natural food spoilage. Humans come into contact with aflatoxins somewhat regularly, and it's not really a concern. It's only mildly toxic to humans, but dogs are very sensitive. Aflatoxin poisoning is shown by lethargy, convulsions, vomiting, loss of appetite, jaundice, and liver failure. It can eventually lead to death.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Almonds
If your dog ate a few almonds, there's no need to jump to panic. Keep an eye out for signs of choking or discomfort within 30 minutes of your dog eating the nuts. If everything appears to be fine, then it probably is. The main concern for just a few almonds is choking and stress to your dog's digestive system.
If your dog happened to tear into your five-pound almonds stored in the pantry, or you notice an allergic reaction, you need to contact your vet or poison control immediately. They will likely give your dog IV fluids, medication to induce vomiting, pain management medications, or supportive care to avoid liver damage.
Can Dog Eat Bitter Almonds?
A disclaimer to start with - bitter almonds are not for either dogs or human consumption because of their high toxicity. These wild almonds are full of a compound called glycoside amygdalin, which breaks down in the body to simpler yet poisonous, chemicals such as cyanide.
Thankfully, a mutation occurred that greatly inhibited an almond's ability to produce amygdalin. The common snacking almonds of today, known as sweet almonds, do not contain amygdalin in dangerous amounts.
Can Dog Eat Chinese Almonds?
Chinese almonds are not technically almonds but are kernels of several apricot varieties. A dog could not eat them as they contain traces of cyanide, which can be very dangerous if the dog ingests them in large quantities.
What About Almond Milk, Butter, Oil?
Almond butter and almond oil do not have the dangers almonds pose, and there are no concerns with intestinal blockages or choking. In fact, almond butter can be very beneficial to a dog's health. You can top some treats with almond butter or almond oil to give them a boost of vitamin E.
Almond milk, on the other hand, could pose a problem. Dogs don't have the enzymes necessary to break down lactose. If you're trying to find a replacement for mother's milk for a puppy in a bad situation, look instead for a specially-designed formula.
Are There Any Alternatives To Almonds?
Many nuts are bad for dogs. Remember that dogs don't need human food. Your pet is not missing anything by just eating regular dog food. However, if you really want to add some nuts to your dog's diet, you do have some alternative options.
Peanuts - Peanuts are safe for dogs as long as they are not coated, salted, caramelized, or candied. They also need to have their shells removed, and keep in mind that they are high in fat. By extension, peanut butter is also safe as long as it doesn't contain xylitol, artificial preservatives, sugar, or too much salt.
Chestnuts - Particularly when roasted, chestnuts are perfectly safe for dogs. Remember that chestnuts are, like all nuts, high in fat. Roasted chestnuts should be a treat, not a regular addition to your dog's diet.
Are Almonds Bad for Dogs?
No, they are not bad or toxic when consumed in small quantities for a dog, but they are risks.