You might be tempted to share your almonds with your pet, especially if your dog is begging for them.
But, feeding any snack on top of your dog’s regular diet could lead to weight gain. Nuts are very high in calories and fat, which can add up quickly, especially in smaller dogs. Additional seasonings or coating on nuts could cause their own problems.
We explore whether almonds are safe for dogs and take a look at all of the ins and outs of this nut in more detail.
Are Almonds Safe For Dogs?
Almonds are not toxic to dogs, but this doesn’t mean they are entirely safe. In fact, they appear on several lists of human food to avoid feeding your pet.
With that said, almonds are very high in fat. While the type of fat that nuts contain is considered healthy for people to consume, dogs may be less able to tolerate it. If they eat many almonds, they could suffer from digestive upset leading to vomiting or diarrhea due to the high-fat levels.
In some animals, the high-fat content in almonds could trigger an episode of pancreatitis. This is where a small organ that digests fats (the pancreas) becomes inflamed and painful. Breeds of dogs that are more prone to developing pancreatitis include Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, and Dachshunds.
Affected animals may have vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy. This can quickly lead to issues like dehydration, so some dogs may need to be hospitalized for treatment. Intravenous fluids, pain relief, and careful nutrition are often required to treat these patients successfully.
Almonds, like many nuts, are very hard and rounded in shape. Dogs aren’t known for chewing things well, so this could be a recipe for disaster. If your dog accidentally inhaled a nut, it could become lodged in their windpipe, causing them to choke, particularly in small dogs. Similarly, nuts could become stuck in the food pipe (esophagus), resulting in issues there too.
Many nuts are heavily salted, which could irritate your dog’s guts, as well as cause dehydration. Other seasonings could even be toxic, such as garlic or onion-based flavors.
Are Almonds Good For Dogs?
We know that almonds are healthy for humans, and we are encouraged to eat nuts regularly as part of a balanced diet. Almonds are a good source of protein and contain monounsaturated fat (which is better than many other kinds of fat, reducing cholesterol and having some protective properties for the heart), plus an array of vitamins and minerals.
However, the health benefits haven’t been proven in dogs, and at the moment, the risks outweigh any potential gains. If your dog eats a good-quality commercial diet that is approved for his size and age, he should get all the nutrition he needs.
When Are Almonds Bad For Dogs?
Almonds are not an ideal treat for dogs as they present some risks. However, there are some circumstances where almonds could be even more dangerous for dogs.
Almonds Mixed With Other Nuts
Almonds often come in packets of mixed nuts. If your dog consumes one of these packets, he is at risk of eating a toxic type of nut, like the macadamia nut. Even a small amount of these nuts could lead to adverse side effects such as weakness in the back legs and digestive upset. Symptoms are usually mild but call your veterinarian for advice if your dog accidentally consumes macadamia nuts.
Chocolate is toxic to dogs, so eating almonds coated in it could lead to serious problems, especially if it is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate (and cocoa powder) is more harmful to dogs than milk or white chocolate as it contains higher levels of theobromine, a chemical that dogs cannot process. Chocolate is dose-dependent, so smaller dogs are more susceptible than larger dogs to its effects.
Theobromine toxicity could cause vomiting and diarrhea in low doses. Higher levels could lead to an elevated heart rate, tremoring, and seizures, and, if left untreated, death could occur. You must get your dog seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, even if they seem okay after eating chocolate, as symptoms can take a few hours to develop—the earlier the treatment, the more likely to be successful.
Almonds Mixed With Dried Fruit
It’s common for almonds and other nuts to mix with dried fruits such as raisins and sultanas. Raisins (and their undried form, grapes) can cause kidney failure and even death. The exact mechanism of action is unknown, which means it can be pretty difficult to know how many make dogs unwell. In some cases, just eating one or two raisins can cause problems; in others, a dog may eat lots and be okay.
It’s best to get your dog to a vet as soon as possible if they have eaten raisins and not take any chances.
Eating highly processed and salty foods can lead to problems in dogs. Not only can the salt irritate the digestive tract, leading to tummy troubles, but it could cause dehydration too. If your dog has a very high dose of salt, sodium toxicity could occur, leading to electrolyte imbalances, tremors, and seizures. While the odd salty snack is unlikely to do too much harm, it is best to avoid them.
Other Seasoned Almonds
Almonds that are coated in seasonings could be a hazard. Onion- or garlic-based coatings could lead to a condition known as hemolytic anemia in dogs. Allium plants (such as onions, leeks, and garlic) cause oxidative damage to red blood cells, which means the red blood cells become fragile and burst.
Destruction of red blood cells can cause your dog to become anemic. When the body can’t deliver oxygen effectively, it leads to weakness. An anemic dog may also have pale gums, an elevated heart rate, and could even collapse. These symptoms can take a few days to develop, so although your dog may seem fine immediately after eating almonds coated in onion or garlic powders, you should still get them seen by a veterinarian promptly.
Dogs can become ill by eating a moderate amount in one sitting, but also if they eat small amounts regularly. Some nuts are coated in chili-based flavorings. While chili peppers are not toxic, they contain something called capsaicin, which negatively affects digestion and can make dogs feel unwell.
Almond Butter With Xylitol
Xylitol (pronounced zai-luh-tol) is an artificial sweetener used in many everyday items, including sugar-free nut butter. It is safe for humans, but xylitol causes their pancreas to release large amounts of insulin into their bloodstream in dogs. This creates a sharp drop in their blood sugar levels. If these sugar levels become too low, then your dog could suffer from hypoglycemia, a condition that can cause harmful side effects. Irreversible liver failure can occur in some cases, which is potentially fatal.
Dogs with xylitol poisoning can show symptoms of weakness, vomiting, tremoring, pale gums, increased heart rate, and seizures. Treatment aims to correct the dog’s sugar levels, and your pet may need to stay in the hospital for fluids and possibly anti-seizure medications. Always check that it is free from xylitol before feeding your dog any nut and peanut butter.
Expert Tip: Please note that the same plant-derived substance as xylitol is also called “birch sugar” or “birch sap” in ingredient listings. When you’re searching for pet-safe foods, pay attention to all of these ingredient names.
My Dog Ate A Few Almonds – Should I Be Worried?
The odd plain almond or two is unlikely to cause serious problems. If your dog seems to be okay after eating them, it should be fine to monitor him. However, if he shows signs of breathing difficulties, coughing/choking, or any other symptoms of bad health, you must contact your veterinarian for advice.
Suppose your dog has eaten a substantial quantity of almonds, or he has eaten almonds that are coated in potentially toxic ingredients (like chocolate, onion-based flavorings, or high levels of salt). In that case, you should call your vet right away. The same applies if your dog accidentally consumes raisins or macadamia nuts alongside the almonds.
Make sure you store bags of nuts out of reach from your pet, on shelves, or in a cupboard. Christmas is a time when accidents are more likely to happen with bowls of nibbles like mixed nuts, chocolate, and dried fruits around the house. Make sure your dog is never left unsupervised with these, and ideally, keep them on a table or kitchen side out of reach.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if a dog eats almonds?
The odd almond or two is unlikely to cause too much harm (unless your dog is unlucky enough to choke on it accidentally). However, a more significant amount of almonds could trigger an episode of vomiting or diarrhea, or even pancreatitis, due to the high-fat content. Almonds coated or seasoned with other ingredients are more likely to cause problems than plain ones.
Are almonds toxic for dogs with pancreatitis?
Almonds can be potentially dangerous for dogs that are prone to pancreatitis. The high-fat content they contain can cause an issue with a small organ known as the pancreas, particularly in dogs susceptible to this condition. This can lead to serious abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, appetite changes, and lethargy.
Can dogs drink almond milk?
Since almond milk is mostly water, the portion of almonds is very small, making this a relatively safe drink if spilled and lapped up accidentally. However, Almond milk is often sweetened to make it tastier for people to drink, and it contains a significant number of calories, which could lead to weight gain in your pet. If you choose to give your dog almond milk, make sure it doesn’t contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, as this is toxic to dogs.
It’s not advisable to feed your dog almonds or any other nut for that matter. The risks outweigh any potential benefits, so it would be best to stick to your dog’s regular food and treats. If you want to give your dog a human food snack, stick to small pieces of lean, unseasoned cooked meats like chicken and turkey, vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, and small bits of cooked eggs.
If your dog eats an almond you’ve accidentally dropped on the floor, it’s unlikely to cause an issue. So, in most cases, you shouldn’t need to seek help. But, if your dog shows signs of ill health, contact your vet immediately.