While popping a handful of almonds provides a wealth of nutrients for us humans, you might wonder, can dogs eat almonds, too? Let’s look at the specifics.
So, can dogs eat almonds? The answer is complicated. While almonds aren’t toxic to your dog, they are difficult for Fido to digest when consumed in large quantities due to their high fat content. “Potential concerns with nuts like almonds include gastroenteritis and pancreatitis — the most common symptoms you will see include vomiting and diarrhea,” says Dr. Meaghan Gilhooly, DVM, Banfield Pet Hospital. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas and can be either acute or chronic. Gastroenteritis occurs when the gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed, particularly the stomach and intestines.
The other thing to consider when thinking, “Can dogs eat almonds?” is their small size … and the fact that most of our four-legged friends don’t bother chewing, whether they’re scarfing down their kibble at dinnertime or savoring a favorite treat. “Dogs can choke on nuts if they don’t chew before swallowing,” Dr. Tiffany Bierer, pet nutritionist for Mars Petcare, adds.
Some answers to, “Can dogs eat nuts?” are even more serious than the answers to, “Can dogs eat almonds?” According to Dr. Heather N. Mitchell, DVM, Animal Health Clinic in North Dakota, your dog definitely can’t eat macadamia nuts. Consuming macadamia nuts can cause lethargy, vomiting, tremors, increased body temperature and — in severe cases — the inability to use their rear limbs.
“However, nuts, in general, are pretty safe,” she adds. “Almonds may be harmful in that they could become stuck in the stomach or intestines, causing a blockage.” The risk of a blockage is especially higher in smaller breeds, so pet owners may want to think twice before feeding their Shih Tzu a few almonds to snack on.
Another problem to consider when thinking, “Can dogs eat almonds?” Many almonds come packaged with a variety of flavorings and seasonings, and while there aren’t necessarily any additional dangers if the almonds are salted or roasted, Dr. Gilhooly notes that pet owners need to be especially wary of their pet having access to any form of chocolate-covered nuts, because chocolate is toxic to dogs.
“Additionally, be mindful of ingredients like xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic to dogs,” she adds. If your pet consumes a product with almonds that’s sweetened with any form of xylitol, symptoms of xylitol toxicity in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite, as well as signs of low blood sugar, including weakness, lethargy, loss of body-movement control and/or collapse. In some cases, fatal liver failure has resulted from xylitol toxicity.
“Prolonged hospitalization and extensive treatment may be necessary to support pets through xylitol intoxication, so in the unfortunate event your pet ingests a product containing xylitol or you suspect xylitol toxicity, it’s imperative to get them to an emergency veterinarian immediately,” Dr. Gilhooly warns.
The next question after, “Can dogs eat almonds?” is, “What should I do if my dog eats almonds?” If your pet has consumed almonds accidentally, Dr. Mitchell advises pet owners to monitor your dog for vomiting or diarrhea within the next 6 to 12 hours. “Any changes in appetite or any indication of pain in the belly would warrant a trip to the vet,” Dr. Mitchell says. “A medium- to large-breed dog may be able to digest an almond and it may pose no risk in that dog’s bowels … but a small or toy breed dog that eats an almond could be at a higher risk for an obstruction.”
Other symptoms that may indicate your dog is having stomach issues related to the consumption of almonds would include disinterest in eating their food and lethargy, Dr. Gilhooly notes.
If a large quantity of almonds were consumed in a short period of time, your veterinarian may use a medication to make your dog vomit up the contents of his stomach. “This may be helpful to evacuate a large quantity of almonds from the stomach,” Dr. Mitchell explains. However, if an almond is stuck in a portion of the stomach or intestines causing an obstruction, abdominal surgery is likely required to remove the almond, she warns.
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