If you’re one of those dog owners who go nuts over these nuts, you’re probably asking yourself: Can dogs eat almonds?
Unknown to many, this healthy treat was once considered deadly. Wild, bitter almonds were initially the most common species available to humankind until they mutated.
Before its mutation, bitter almonds were packed with a compound called Glycoside Amygdalin. When ingested, this compound breaks down into simpler yet poisonous chemicals like cyanide. This made these nuts toxic to dogs and humans and gave them a nasty, bitter taste.
Post-mutation, the ability of these tree nuts to produce Amygdalin was inhibited. This genetic mutation allowed us to domesticate almond trees.
Thanks to this alteration, we can now enjoy the nutty, earthy taste of sweet almonds – a store-bought human food favorite we all know today.
Sweet almonds, by the way, still contain Amygdalin but in small amounts. These amounts are not enough to produce dangerous quantities of cyanide.
On the other hand, bitter almonds still exist, but they’re not often sold in the market.
Can Dogs Eat Almonds?
While your furry canine companions look like they can eat anything, the fact is that dogs can’t eat all the types of food you have on your cupboard. What about almonds? Are almonds safe for dogs?
Obviously, bitter almonds are not for dog and human consumption because of their high toxicity. For the rest of the article, we will be talking about the sweet variety of these nuts since they are readily available in the market.
A sellout snack for vegetarians and people trying to lose weight, sweet almonds are almost perfect, thanks to all their health benefits.
Apart from promoting weight loss, reducing cholesterol levels, and lowering blood sugar, this is packed with vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, protein, and healthy fat.
With all the health benefits these nuts provide to humans, it just makes sense to think that these can do a lot of good for your dog. Sadly, the same does not apply to your pooch.
Almonds are not toxic compared to other nuts. Nuts such as macadamia nut, walnuts, and pecans are definite NO-NOs, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Goldstein of Animal Medical Center in NYC and New Jersey-based veterinarian Dr. Maritez Perez.
When it comes to almonds, these nuts are not considered poisonous. It even has nutrients like fatty acids that are excellent for your dogs’ joints. However, giving your dog almonds is not recommended simply because the health risks outweigh the benefits.
6 Potential Risks of Almond to Dogs
By now, you’re probably wondering why your dog should avoid almonds. Your dog may have eaten a handful of nuts without seeing any side effects. So, now your asking: Are almonds bad for dogs? The short answer here is NO.
Outright, an almond may seem harmless since it is not toxic to dogs, unlike macadamia nuts which can cause tremors, vomiting, increased body temperature, and inability to walk. Dogs also love its nutty taste.
However, letting your dog eat almonds can lead to various health problems. Now the BIGGER question is: Are you willing to take the risk?
Should you decide to let your dog eat almonds, here are all the possible dangers you’re exposing your pet to:
1. Blockage or Obstruction
Unlike humans, dogs tend to swallow their food without chewing since their teeth are mainly made for ripping instead of grinding. The chances of swallowing an almond whole are high, making almond a choking hazard.
Small breed dogs (given their size) are especially at risk since this may get stuck in their esophagus, windpipe, and even their intestines. Some types of obstructions may require abdominal surgery.
2. Gastrointestinal Distress
Almond is high in fat. This fat is considered healthy for humans, but your dog’s digestive system cannot tolerate it. Ingesting large quantities of fat can lead to pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis refers to the inflammation of the pancreas. Various factors bring about this condition, but a dog food diet that is high in fat is considered the primary contributor or cause of this disease.
Both acute and chronic pancreatitis can range from mild indigestion to a life-threatening disorder. Bottom line: Both types can be painful.
If your pet eats a large helping of dog food or human foods with high amounts of fat, then it’s best if you get in touch with your veterinarian. Also, you might as well watch out for the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Dogs appear to be in pain, uncomfortable, or bloated
- Lethargy or weakness
3. Water Retention or Salt Toxicity
For humans, eating the salted variety of almonds in large quantities can increase blood pressure and lead to heart ailments.
For dogs, those who consume large amounts of salt are at risk of developing water retention or abnormal fluid buildup within the body. This is potentially dangerous for dogs with heart conditions.
In case your dog accidentally devours a bag of almonds (the salted kind), worst comes to worst; this can result in salt poisoning or salt toxicity, aka hypernatremia – an intoxication caused by excessive sodium intake.
4. Bladder Stones and Kidney Stones
Most nuts, including almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts, contain lots of phosphorus. High levels of phosphorus promote the formation of bladder stones and kidney stones.
While a small and a large breed dog can have this condition, breeds such as Lhasa Apso, Yorkshire Terrier, Bichon Frise, and Miniature Schnauzers are genetically predisposed to develop this kind of disease.
5. Aflatoxin Poisoning
Apart from the dangers mentioned above, feeding your dog a moldy almond can result in aflatoxin poisoning.
Aflatoxin is a type of toxin that comes from the Aspergillus mold. These molds can grow on almonds and cause convulsions, liver damage, and even death.
Nuts, almonds included, are not common allergens for dogs. But, if your pet has existing allergies, eating nuts may trigger an allergic reaction. Its symptoms include itching, vomiting, redness, and diarrhea.
What You Need To Do If Your Dog Eats Almonds
There's no need to panic in case your dogs eat one or a few pieces of almonds. If this happens, best to watch out for signs of choking or discomfort. If your dog does not show any symptoms, you don't have to call your vet because your dog will probably feel A-OK.
However, if your dog devoured a 5-pound bag of nuts, consider this as a red flag. Talking to your veterinarian should be your top priority.
In case your vet is out, then it’s best to get in touch with ASPCA Animal Poison Control. Their lines are available 24/7. You can consider them as one of your best resources when it comes to animal poison-related emergencies.
More often than not, in such situations, your dogs will be given IV fluids, medication for vomiting & supportive care to avert liver damage.
Alternative Nutty Treats for Dogs
Now that we’ve given you the answer, you now know that your dogs are better of without eating almond nuts. If your dog can’t help but go crazy over nuts, here are other nutty products you can give your dog as an occasional treat.
- Peanuts can reduce heart disease risk in dogs. Nut butters such as peanut butter can be given to your pupper in moderation as long as it is plain, unsalted, and free of xylitol.
- A bite of almond butter can also be offered as a treat but give almond butter with caution.
- Your dog can also have a sip of unsweetened almond milk once in a while. Just make sure that the milk is unsweetened and is only composed of water and almond.
We can’t help but remind you that nuts have high-calorie content and should not be part of their regular diet. As dog owners, your pet’s health should be on top of the list.
Alternatively, you can remove the nuts from their diet and give them healthier, vet-approved dog snack products.
Carrot and Almond Butter Dog Treats
- 1/2 cup almond butter (all natural and organic, with no added sugar or salt)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup shredded carrot
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup oatmeal
- Heat your oven to 325 F.
- In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients and mix well.
- In a second bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and oatmeal.
- Combine the wet and dry mixtures until a tacky dough forms. If you use a stand mixer, you may have to switch to the dough hook.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to ¼-inch thickness and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter.
- Place the biscuits on a nonstick baking sheet* and bake for 15 minutes.
- Flip the biscuits over and bake for another 10 minutes.
- *If you don’t have a nonstick baking sheet, you can line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Almond Butter Dog Biscuits
- 1 cup almond butter
- 1 egg
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup milk
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray.
- Mix almond butter and egg until combined. In another bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. Stir half the flour mixture and half the milk into almond butter mixture. Repeat. Mixture will be stiff.
- Roll out on work surface sprinkled with flour. Using bone-shaped cookie cutters, cut out biscuits and place on cookie sheet.
- Bake 20 minutes
- Optional: Peanut butter can be used in place of the almond butter.
- Store in an airtight container.
Sweet Potato Almond Butter Dog Biscuits
- Cookie cutter
- 2 med sweet potatoes
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork all around and cook in microwave for about 6 minutes or until tender.
- Cut sweet potatoes in half and scoop out into a bowl. Add in almond butter. Mash sweet potatoes and almond butter until well incorporated and smooth.
- Gradually add flour, 1/4 cup at a time and transfer to a flat, dusted surface. Kneed dough until flour is mixed well and dough is no longer sticking to the surface. If dough continues to stick add more flour, a bit at a time.
- Roll dough with flour dusted rolling pin until about 1/2 inch in thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and place on a greased baking sheet. You can also cut into 1-inch strips if you do not have a cookie cutter.
- Bake in oven for 25 mins.
- Cool and serve to your hungry pup!
What do I do if my dog ate almonds?
If your dog consumes one or two almonds, don't panic. Instead, watch him carefully for signs of intestinal distress or obstruction. If your dog devours more than a few almonds, call your veterinarian or local emergency veterinarian for professional advice.
How many almonds can kill a dog?
It only takes 7 to 10 unprocessed bitter almonds to kill. Processing by baking or boiling destroys the toxin and makes them safe to use, but they're still banned for sale in the U.S. Other nuts that are safe for humans are still outright toxic to dogs.
Is Almond good for dogs?
Dogs can eat almond nuts as they are not toxic to them, but canines tend to digest almonds poorly. Even unsalted almonds can upset your dog's stomach or if the pooch in question is more sensitive, gastric intestinal distress.
Can Almonds Make Dogs Sick?
Properly processed almonds are not directly toxic to your dog but the canine system does not properly digest the proteins in nuts. Eating large quantities of almonds, whether all at once or frequent smaller amounts given regularly, can cause gastrointestinal distress, obesity, and pancreatitis.