Dogs may love almonds, but are they good for your dog?
When it comes to the mighty almond, veterinarians agree that there are health dangers associated with almonds, but most docs don’t ban them completely.
“Almonds are a popular human snack and healthy for people and pets with a couple of precautions,” says Jim D Carlson DVM CVA CVTP, holistic veterinarian and owner of Riverside Animal Clinic in McHenry, Ill. For example, says Dr. Carlson, “Almonds contain a good amount of fat, but too much fat can cause pancreatitis or gastric upset.”
Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, who’s on the Board of Advisors of Pet Life Today, points out that while almonds are not toxic to dogs, “it’s still not a good idea to feed too many to your pet. Any new food can lead to gastroenteritis, which may result in vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, and dehydration.” However, she adds, “If your dog gets into a few almonds, you have nothing to worry about, but they shouldn’t make up a large portion of your dog’s diet.”
So, while almonds aren’t among the nuts toxic to dogs — like walnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans — they can still cause some health problems.
Potential Dangers of Dogs Eating Almonds
Obstruction. A main reason for this is because dogs tend to swallow their food whole, so a hard object like an almond can potentially become lodged in the esophagus, stomach, or if aspirated, in the windpipe. This is more of a hazard with smaller dogs, but any dog may be at risk. An obstruction in any place can be life threatening.
Pancreatitis. Almonds are high in fats, which can lead to an inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis. The pancreas is a vital organ. It produces enzymes that assist in digestion, and hormones like insulin, which regulate blood sugar. Pancreatitis, a serious illness that requires veterinary care, can be triggered by fatty foods.
Gastrointestinal Upset. A dog’s system is not designed to process nuts. Consequently, a stomach full of almonds can cause an upset stomach or worse, gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract including the stomach and the intestines. According to Ernest Ward, DVM, symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Water Retention. This is particularly true if the almonds are salted. Water retention is especially dangerous for dogs with heart conditions. Eating a large number of salted almonds can lead to salt toxicity, which can also be life threatening.
Toxicity to Seasoning or Coating. Almonds come in all flavors from Barbecue to Salted Caramel. They also come coated in substances like Chocolate and Yogurt. Some of these coatings are bad for your dog’s health. In particular, chocolate and any coating with the artificial sweetener xylitol can be lethal to dogs.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Almonds?
This will depend on how many almonds your dog ate. If she ate one or two, she’s probably all right, as Dr. Cotes said. If your dog has scarfed a bag of almonds when you had your back turned, the AKC advises dog parents to watch for these symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- General discomfort
If your dog has eaten a lot of almonds, put in a call right way to your veterinarian. Dr. Maritza Perez, DVM, from the West Orange Animal Hospital in New Jersey, tells PetMd, “If you think your pet just ate that five-pound bag of almonds that you left by the sofa, the most effective treatment is to induce vomiting if the ingestion occurred within the previous 30 minutes,”
To do this safely, consult with your veterinarian or poison control for guidance. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center can be reached 24 hours a day, every day of the year, at:
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435.