Health & Wellness
Almonds can be a tasty human snack and are found in many food products — from almond flour to almond milk to almond butter. While they make great sources of protein or alternatives to dairy and wheat products, they're not something you should feed your pup as a treat.
Although almonds aren't the most toxic food to dogs, they can cause some health issues that may be concerning and, if left untreated, could lead to your pet needing medical attention. Here's what to do if your dog does ingest almonds and what you should feed them instead.
"In general, almonds should not be fed to dogs," Dr. Erin Keefe, DVM, a veterinarian at Small Door Veterinary, says. "Although almonds aren't considered directly toxic to dogs (such as macadamia nuts), they pose some specific risks to their health."
A common side effect of a dog ingesting almonds is gastrointestinal upset. "Almonds are difficult to digest and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea or gas/bloating," Dr. Keefe says. Plus, if eaten in large quantities, almonds could cause a gastrointestinal blockage or, in some cases for smaller dogs, total obstruction. And, because of their size and the fact that they're frequently packaged with their skins still on, almonds can be huge choking hazards for pups.
Other health concerns associated with dogs ingesting almonds include pancreatitis, high blood pressure, electrolyte imbalance and anemia. "Almonds are very high in fat and can lead to pancreatitis, a condition that can cause severe inflammation of the pancreas, which is important for digestion," Dr. Keefe says. "Some dogs can become very ill with pancreatitis and may require hospitalized care."
While almonds' makeup aren't necessarily the cause of high blood pressure or electrolyte imbalance, almonds are often seasoned with large quantities of salt, throwing those levels out of whack. Similarly, almonds that are seasoned with other herbs or spices — like onion or garlic, which are toxic to dogs — can result in anemia, in addition to those gastrointestinal issues.
According to Dr. Keef, some almond products may not cause as severe a reaction if ingested as raw almonds would. "Almond butter, flour and milk are also not considered directly toxic to dogs and are not likely to cause any problems in small quantities. However, the fat content in almond butter is extremely high and can increase the risk of developing pancreatitis when eaten in large quantities."
Perhaps even more important is to watch out for additional chemicals, preservatives or ingredients in products like almond butter or almond milk; some contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which is extremely toxic to dogs. So to be extra cautious, it's generally recommended that you don't give your pup any almond byproducts. That said, if a small quantity is accidentally ingested, there is likely no major cause for concern.
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It's always a good idea to monitor your dog for any signs or symptoms of gastrointestinal upset or other illness. As mentioned, if only eaten in small quantities, there might be no cause for concern. But if you begin to see signs of vomiting, diarrhea or other concerns or know your dog ingested a large quantity of almonds, you might want to call up your veterinarian or bring your pup in for medical attention.
You can also call the pet poison control hotline at (855) 764-7661 for advice (fee applies).
There are plenty of bite-sized snacks you can feed your pup that are packed with nutrients while ensuring they don't ingest any almonds. If it's protein you're looking for, dog-safe peanut butter is always a good option, so long as you're carefully reading labels to avoid any artificial sweeteners or other ingredients that are harmful to dogs.
Coconut (everything but the husk) is also a healthy snack alternative. It's high in medium-chain fatty acids and antioxidants. Plus, it sometimes aids digestion and inflammation while promoting a shiny coat.
While our furry friends are family, and we want to share all our favorite things with them, some snacks are better left uneaten. Keep the almonds for yourself and treat your pup to something they'll love instead.
We're confident that almonds aren't the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series "Can dogs eat … ?" to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what's fair game.'
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