- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Almonds are among the most ancient foods in human civilization, and it seems like they’re more popular than ever. Served to the pharaohs of ancient Egypt as a sacred bread, and prized as “brain food” around the world, almonds have earned a reputation for being exceptionally nutritious and delicious.
Almonds are a go-to snack for many health-conscious people. Barack Obama was famously rumored to eat seven almonds every evening while he was in the White House. Are these human-friendly nuts healthy for dogs, too?
Maybe. Almonds are not poisonous to dogs but they can be difficult to digest. Because your dog doesn’t chew her food like people do, when she eats whole almonds, they will probably reach her stomach whole or in big pieces. It’s difficult for dogs to digest these almond chunks, and undigested nuts can cause tummy troubles.
Dogs tolerate almond butter and almond milk better than whole almonds. Almond butter is simply made of ground almonds, and if you want to share some with your dog, be sure that it is salt-free and does not contain sweeteners (particularly xylitol, which is toxic to dogs). Dog-friendly almond butter has only one ingredient: almonds.
Most dogs can tolerate almonds and almond butter. But tolerating a food does not mean that it’s healthy and nutritious. The problem with almonds is that they are simply too rich in fat and fiber to be appropriate for the nutritional needs of most dogs.
One ounce of almonds, about 23 nuts, contains 16 grams of fat, 4 grams of dietary fiber, and 170 calories. In order to obtain the nutritional benefits of almonds, which are high in magnesium, manganese, and vitamin E, a dog would need to eat too many calories in almonds.
If your dog gobbles down the packet of almonds that was on the kitchen table, he is probably not in any danger. Almonds are not toxic to dogs, but they can cause digestive problems, particularly when eaten in large quantities.
Symptoms of Overeating Almonds
If your dog eats a significant amount of almonds, seek veterinary care if you notice the following symptoms:
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
Almonds, and many other nuts and seeds, contain phytic acid. Phytic acid can interrupt the absorption of minerals such as calcium and zinc, and if eaten in large quantities, can lead to mineral deficiencies in dogs.
Nuts and seeds can cause tummy troubles for dogs for exactly the same reasons that they are so good at surviving and growing her plants. When it’s time to sprout, seeds used phytic acid as a source of phosphorus—seeds have to provide all of the nutrition for a growing plant for some time, which explains why they are so packed with fat and other nutrients.
Dangerous additives: If you choose to share almond butter with your dog, you must read the ingredients. Salt and sugar aren’t healthy for dogs, and one common sweetener, xylitol, is very dangerous to dogs, even in small amounts. Xylitol can cause sudden hypoglycemia—a dog’s blood sugar can plummet to a dangerously low level—leading to liver failure, and even death.
If you want to share an occasional spoonful of almond butter with your dog, that’s ok. It’s best to avoid whole almonds because they cause digestive issues, but if your dog chomps down the occasional almond, he should be able to tolerate it fine.
Other nuts can be very dangerous for dogs, so avoid mixed nuts and mixed nut butters if there’s any chance your dog will counter surf his way to a free snack.
Learn more about feeding your dog a wonderfully varied diet while learning the limitations of a dog’s sensitive digestive system. We offer a collection of articles on foods that are safe, dangerous, or even toxic for dogs to eat, including vegetables, dairy, bread, and junk food.