It doesn’t matter how full or hungry your dog is, if he feels like licking or swallowing something that stirs his curiosity, he will most likely lick, if not entirely eat it.
And chances are, if you love to cook, you will also find your dog lurking around the kitchen while waiting for the perfect moment to steal something tasty, such as a butter-filled treat. After all, most dogs tend to eat anything they can find, don't you agree?
But what if your dog ate stick of butter? Should you be concerned? Is butter dangerous for your dog's health?
Is Butter Harmful to Dogs?
Thankfully, butter is not harmful to our canine companions when given in moderation. It is not toxic to dogs unlike other common human foods and ingredients, such as chocolate, xylitol, grapes, and garlic. Eating a stick or small amounts of butter won’t cause significant damage or serious health issues to your pup.
However, butter is a dairy product and it contains lactose. Considering that most adult dogs are lactose intolerant, the consumption of large amounts of dairy products, such as butter can cause them bouts of vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and bloating.
When not managed on time, these side effects can lead to dehydration, which can be potentially life-threatening depending on its severity.
Your Dog Ate Stick of Butter? What now?
Compared to us humans, a dog’s digestive system is more sensitive. And in addition to that, adult dogs are known to have lactose intolerance, as mentioned earlier.
This means that their digestive system cannot produce lactase, the enzyme needed to break down lactose. And butter is a dairy product that is rich in lactose.
So, when butter enters your pup’s stomach, the enzymes inside his stomach cannot digest it. Depending on your dog’s size, he will most probably vomit the butter immediately if it’s too much for his digestive system, or it will continue to make its way down and outside of his body.
If your pup doesn’t vomit the butter, he may have stomach cramps, bloating, and loose stools. Your dog will most probably pass out all the butter into his body within a day or two. After that, you can expect his digestive system to be back to normal.
While these are the most common side effects that dogs experience after eating butter, some may also have more serious complications that may require medical attention, such as the following:
Gastroenteritis is a condition caused by bacteria or viruses entering the dog's digestive system. It can occur, however, if the animal has eaten a new food in large amounts, such as a whole stick of butter.
It usually causes inflammation of the intestines and stomachs which results in diarrhea and vomiting. Gastroenteritis generally lasts 2-4 days during which you can pay special attention to your dog's diet and hydration to help him recover faster.
The pancreas is the organ responsible for producing insulin and digestive enzymes both in humans and animals. Pancreatitis occurs when these enzymes start to digest the pancreas, which causes it to be inflamed.
In dogs, pancreatitis is caused by an unhealthy diet that includes increased fat intake for a long time. It may, however, get worse suddenly after a dog consumes too much fat in one go, such as consuming a piece of butter. Mild cases of pancreatitis usually resolve within 2-3 days if the patient receives immediate medical treatment.
However, if a dog experiences acute pancreatitis (which is common among obese dogs) and he was not taken to the vet immediately to receive proper treatment, his condition can worsen and lead to hemorrhagic pancreatitis. In rare cases, when left untreated, pancreatitis can result in sudden death.
Obesity and Other Weight-Related Health Issues
Butter is rich in fat and is high in calories. Its high-fat content doesn’t only cause stomach upset in dogs, but it can also predispose them to several health issues.
Regular intake or large intake of butter may cause obesity in dogs, as well as other weight-related issues, such as diabetes, cardiac problems, and arthritis.
Compared with healthy and active dogs, overweight dogs have reduced life expectancy. As such, pet owners should prevent this from happening by providing their dogs with a complete and well-balanced diet, and staying away from fatty treats, such as butter and other dairy products.
Other Issues to Consider
When it comes to assessing your dog's behavior after eating butter, you should ask yourself some additional questions. For instance, you should determine whether your dog ate the butter with or without a wrapper.
Dogs are not capable of digesting the wrapping material. So, if they ate the butter wrapper, it is a choking hazard and/or prone to intestinal obstruction. If your dog has no stool after eating butter, take him to the vet.
Another thing to think about is if your dog ate natural butter or butter substitutes. Sometimes, butter substitutes contain ingredients that might cause a decrease in digestive function. Also, processed butter may contain artificial sweeteners that can be toxic for dogs.
Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out For
Although regular butter is soft and slimy that it can easily slide into your dog’s mouth and into his stomach without causing damage, you should still take it seriously.
As mentioned earlier, there are also risks associated with butter consumption in dogs. And two of the most common, and dangerous things that can happen when dogs eat too much butter are gastroenteritis and pancreatitis.
The major symptoms of gastroenteritis that you should watch out for are vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, dogs can also experience nausea, low-grade fever, foamy bile present in the vomit, lethargy, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.
These symptoms are not only uncomfortable for your dog, but they can also lead to something more serious when not managed properly and on time. Hence, as pet parents, you should have an eye for unusual behaviors like these, especially if you suspect that your dog ate something that can be problematic.
Also, when dogs eat butter, there’s also a chance that they may also eat the wrapper. And while in most cases, they can simply eliminate this inedible material through their poop, there is still the possibility that it can cause a dangerous blockage inside your dog’s body.
Another dangerous complication that dogs can get from eating butter regularly, especially in large amounts, is pancreatitis. The symptoms that you should watch out for include vomiting, nausea, fever, body weakness or restlessness, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, diarrhea, abdominal swelling, arching of the back, and gagging.
As you can observe, some of the usual signs and symptoms are the same for several health issues in dogs. Hence, one can easily perceive vomiting as an indication of overeating or of gastroenteritis when in fact it is already pointing out a more serious underlying medical condition.
That’s why, if you notice any of these symptoms, or if you feel that something is wrong, it’s best to call your vet or better yet visit his clinic so your pup can be assessed properly.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate a Stick of Butter?
If your dog has just eaten a stick of butter within the last four hours, your veterinarian can prescribe an injection to induce vomiting.
It raises the butter and prevents more problems deep within the digestive system. It's important, though, to remember not to induce vomiting at home by yourself, or without discussing it first with your veterinarian.
If more than four hours have passed since your dog ate the butter, it's most probably way down in his gastrointestinal tract. Most dogs can handle it.
Like I said earlier, they may have an upset stomach or they may not experience any symptoms at all. However, if your dog has a sensitive stomach, he will most probably have more severe symptoms that require a visit to the nearest vet clinic.
Also, if you notice your dog eating butter, you should also determine whether it was wrapped or not, and whether it’s a regular butter or not.
Some types of butter may contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs such as xylitol. Some butter also contains food coloring and salt to enhance its flavor, and sad to say these ingredients can be bad for our canine companions.
Cocoa butter, for instance, contains theobromine, which can cause hyperactivity in dogs leading to tremors, seizures, or even heart attacks. Hence, if your dog ate cocoa butter, you should take him to the vet immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Butter Kill My Dog?
It's very unlikely for dogs to die after eating butter, since unlike other human foods, butter is not toxic to dogs. And they can still safely eat butter in moderation as an occasional treat.
However, when eaten in large quantities, butter can cause health issues in dogs, such as pancreatitis. This is when the consumption of butter can be potentially life-threatening to dogs since this medical condition can be fatal when not treated.
Is It Okay to Use Butter to Give My Dog’s Pills?
It would be fine to give a little amount of butter together with your dog’s pills or medications. Butter tastes and smells great, so, it can easily mask the distinctive odor and taste of medicines that most dogs hate. However, the same rule applies, and that’s to only give your pup a small amount of butter to prevent potential issues, such as gastroenteritis and obesity.
There are also certain medications that must be taken on an empty stomach for best results, so, giving butter with these meds would not be advisable. You can also ask your veterinarian about this to make sure that your dog can get the best outcome from his pills.
Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?
Generally, peanut butter is safe for dogs to consume in moderation since it contains a healthy amount of proteins and vitamins. However, it can also contain salt and other ingredients that can be bad for dogs when eaten regularly.
More importantly, you should never give your dog peanut butter with xylitol, as this ingredient can be fatal to dogs.
If you want to treat your dog to tasty peanut butter, your best option would be to make it at home to be sure of its ingredients. This way you can control the number and amount of ingredients that you include, and you can stay away from dangerous additives and too much salt.
Can Dogs Eat Cocoa Butter?
Coconut butter contains the oil from chocolate liquids. Chocolate can cause extreme toxic effects on dogs, and should never be fed to them. Chocolate is also high in theobromine compared to caffeine.
Theobromine can cause heart attacks and seizures in dogs, and it can even be fatal. Timing is essential if your dog ate cocoa butter. You should immediately take him to the vet or call the designated number for animal emergencies.
Just like most human foods, butter (or butter stick) is safe for dogs in moderation and should not be included as part of your dog’s diet. As mentioned earlier, it is a dairy by-product and it contains lactose. And considering that adult dogs are lactose intolerant, the consumption of even a small amount of butter can already give them an upset stomach.
When consumed on a regular basis and in large quantities, butter can definitely make dogs gain an unhealthy amount of weight, which can predispose them to several health issues, such as diabetes, cardiac disease, and arthritis. Also, there are types of butter that contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can be fatal for dogs even in small amount.
So, should you be alarmed when your dog ate butter? Well, you don’t have to since panicking can only cloud your judgment. Instead, when you see your dog eating a stick of regular butter, immediately remove the rest of the butter away from him. And determine how much butter he consumed and whether there’s any chance that he also ate the wrapper.
If your dog only ate a small amount, he would just be fine. However, since you can’t be always sure of the amount, the next best thing that you can do is to watch out for his behavior and to call your vet for advice. Lastly, butter doesn't really have any major health benefits to your pet's system, better off giving him fruits and vegetables.
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