Almonds are known as a very healthy nut for humans to snack on. It is common for people to have almonds in the kitchen to grab for a snack or to use for cooking purposes. Dogs might be intrigued, just like they are with virtually any food, but can they eat them?
Can dogs eat almonds?
No, veterinarians recommend that owners should keep their dogs away from almonds. Even though they are not as toxic as some other nut options out there, the adverse effects outweigh the positive value they provide.
What are the major reasons why dogs should not eat almonds?
It is a bit frustrating not to be able to feed dogs the same snacks as humans, but there are a few reasons why almonds should be for people only. These negative effects could all impact a dog snacking on almonds.
Aspergillus mold risk
In some cases, there is an Aspergillus mold risk with almonds. It is not particularly common in almonds, but it happens often enough that it is considered a threat. This mold contains aflatoxin, which can poison a dog pretty quickly.
Since most people will not be able to examine almonds and tell whether or not there is this mold on every nut, it is recommended to just not run the risk. There are too many cases in the past that have gone wrong because of this mold.
Almonds are very high in phosphorus, and that increases the chance of bladder stones forming. Dogs do not need that level of phosphorus in their diet, so it does not provide the same type of benefits that it might for humans.
Almonds are pretty high in fat, but humans enjoy them because it is a healthy type. For dogs, it is not nearly as healthy, as it can lead to digestive problems pretty quickly. In the long term, consuming too much fat can add weight to a dog, and it can create an increased risk of pancreatitis as well.
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Dogs can be allergic to almonds, just like humans. Most of the time, the symptoms are mild, but there is always a risk of something more extreme like anaphylaxis. It is best not to start a dog with almonds at all, but if they do want some, start with tiny amounts to ensure that they do not have allergies. A dog can also go through an allergy test with the help of a veterinarian.
The majority of almonds sold to the public come covered in salt, which is bad for dogs if they consume too much. Too much salt increases the chances of water retention, and it is generally unhealthy for dogs to have too much salt in general. If a dog consumes a lot of almonds in one sitting, they run the risk of salt toxicity.
Almonds are not the toughest nut in the world, but they are a bit of a challenge for proper chewing. Dogs might feel tempted to eat them a little too fast, and that can lead to some pretty significant complications.
The most significant risk is the chance of choking on a whole almond. This happens when a dog decides not to chew up an almond as much as they should because it is a challenge.
What should an owner do if they notice their dog ate too many almonds?
The good thing about almonds is that more often than not, they are not going to cause too many serious issues with dogs. At most, they might have some mild symptoms for a short amount of time. With that said, there are certain things to keep an eye on from the beginning.
The first step is to try to estimate how many almonds are missing. If they were able to sneak into a supply, there is a chance they consumed many at once. That chance might be reason enough to go to a veterinarian right away, even if they are showing no warning signs at the moment.
Dogs that only eat a handful of almonds or less should be perfectly fine. Be on the lookout for dogs acting a bit more sluggish than usual, showing some signs of discomfort, or even having increased gas. The smaller symptoms usually pass on their own, but if it lasts for more than a day, it might be worth going to a veterinarian to check things out.
In extreme cases, dogs might start vomiting and having diarrhea right away. This usually prompts people to go to a veterinarian, if only to check out the severity of the issue. They might have a mild case of gastric intestinal distress, but it could develop into pancreatitis. This is a severe condition that could cause some long-term issues.
The other issue with almonds that might require immediate attention is if they are swallowed whole. A dog might be showing signs that there is some obstruction inside, and that requires immediate attention. Choking happens more often with smaller dogs, and veterinarians will be able to assess the situation as quickly as possible. If it is a serious issue and nothing works, there might be emergency surgery required.
Are there any dangers involving flavored almonds?
Since the natural flavor of almonds is a bit dull to some, flavored almonds are a standard snack option. From a dog’s perspective, flavored almonds are worse than natural. Each type of spice and flavoring can cause different reactions. Some will specifically irritate a dog’s stomach if they overeat.
Salt is another massive issue with flavored almonds. The more a dog consumes, the higher the chance of water retention and even salt toxicity. If a dog does have an opportunity to eat almonds, make sure to strip off the flavoring completely to cut down on these risks.
Can dogs have almond-flavored products?
Most almond-flavored products are a bit easier to chew and consume, but that does not necessarily make them any healthier. While there is a reduced choking risk, almond-flavored products usually have increased levels of sugar, artificial chemicals, and other harmful ingredients. A lot of the negatives of almonds do not go away either, so it is usually not viewed as that much better. The one positive is that portion control is a little easier, as a dog owner could put a small amount of something like almond butter on foods to enhance the flavor.
What are some better nut options for dogs?
Generally speaking, dogs do not need nuts as part of their diet since they are carnivores. With that said, it is natural for dog owners to want to share some human foods with their pet from time to time, and that includes nuts.
If the peanuts are bare, they make an excellent snack for dogs that want to try something different. They must be out of the shell beforehand, and the actual nut inside is relatively soft compared to other options out there. That makes it easier for them to chew and enjoy, but only in small quantities. The same goes for peanut butter, but aim for an option that is as natural as possible with very few ingredients.
Chestnuts are another relatively soft nut that makes for a good snack in small quantities. Dogs can have a few of these as a snack and be perfectly fine. It is a nice switch up from some of the other snack options out there in different food groups.
Hazelnuts and cashews
Consider both of these nuts to fall under the same category as almonds. Hazelnuts are not toxic at all to dogs, but the issue is that they can be a pretty significant choking hazard. Make sure to shrink the size of hazelnuts in some way to cut down on this potential issue.
For cashews, they must be roasted or baked. If they are raw, they have toxins in them that can harm a dog. If prepared correctly, they do provide a decent amount of health benefits for dogs that make them an average snack to give in minimal quantities.
Is it ultimately worth giving almonds to a dog?
Most veterinarians will suggest their dog owners avoid almonds altogether. There are simply too many other options out there that are better snack choices for dogs, and they will likely enjoy them more as well. Almonds are relatively bland when not coated with anything, and dogs will likely react more favorably to other snack options anyway.
Make sure to keep almonds out of the way, but do not lose sleep over them having one or two by accident. They are certainly much healthier and safer than many other nut options available for dogs.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.