Can I Give My Dog Almond Butter?
While a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Wonder Bread may be the childhood classic, in a culture that values health and nutrition more than ever, almond butter has jumped onto store shelves as the healthier, trendier, slightly more refined sandwich spread. Almond butter is everywhere—in nut butter and jelly sandwiches, serving as a dip for apple slices, stuffed into cakes and smoothies, and even in savory dishes such as creamy soups and Pad Thai. College students consider it a delicacy. Health-conscious parents swear by it. The most devoted of almond butter enthusiasts simply sit down on the kitchen floor and scoop it out of a jar with our fingers.
When we think of nut butter, two combinations come to mind: peanut butter and jelly and peanut butter and dogs. We have already tried swapping out almond butter for peanut butter in the classic American sandwich, and it has been a huge success. So, what about that second pair? Is almond butter a good way to keep your dog on the cutting edge of nut butter culture?
Can dogs have almond butter? Fortunately, yes—almond butter is just as safe for your dog as their more traditional treat, peanut butter. Almonds are not at all toxic to your dog in either their whole or their creamy, spreadable, ground-up forms. Almond butter, just like peanut butter, may even offer a few small health benefits for your dog. Of course, it is important to remember that almond butter should be a rare treat and not a staple food. Your dog may love to lick this stuff off a spoon, but they will almost certainly wind up with some health problems if they eat large quantities of it on a regular basis.
Health Benefits of Giving Your Dog Almond Butter?
One of almond butter’s biggest assets is its high Vitamin E content. This vitamin has a powerful impact on your dog’s overall health and wellbeing—it supports the immune system and helps promote elasticity in skin, muscles, and various connective tissues. This means that it is great for skin and coat health, leaving your dog feeling itch-free and silky soft. There is some evidence that Vitamin E can reduce your dog’s chances of developing unpleasant (but common) skin conditions like doggy dermatitis, dandruff, and hotspots.
Vitamin E may also preserve joint mobility, which can slow down or ease the symptoms of diseases like arthritis. Since this compound doubles as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, it can also ease arthritis symptoms by reducing the painful swelling and inflammation that tends to worsen as the disease progresses. Some dogs suffering from arthritis may benefit from eating more foods high in this healing vitamin.
Almond butter is actually a better choice than peanut butter, from a nutritional standpoint. In addition to being higher in Vitamin E, almond butter boasts more magnesium, iron, and calcium than its legume-based counterpart. Most importantly, it is lower in overall fat, which makes it the more dog-friendly of nut butters.
Possible Negative Effects?
Though almond butter may be a better choice than peanut butter, it is important to practice moderation—this is still a high fat, high calorie food, so your dog should only consume very small amounts. If your dog eats too much almond butter, the high fat content will likely result in upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea. It may also lead to a condition called pancreatitis—or inflammation of the pancreas—which, if left untreated, can become chronic and severe. Symptoms of pancreatitis include loss of appetite, abdominal pain or bloating, lethargy, labored breathing, irregular heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever. If your dog eats almonds in any form and demonstrates any of these symptoms, take them to the vet’s office immediately. They may be suffering from pancreatitis or from an allergic reaction. While rare, nut allergies do occur in dogs.
Things to Keep in Mind
If you decide to feed your dog almond butter, opt for unflavored varieties that are free of added salt, sugar, and artificial flavors. Dogs do not handle added salt nearly as well as humans do—eating too much of this mineral puts them at risk of high blood pressure and other heart problems. Too much sugar increases their risk of obesity and diabetes.
Also beware of the artificial sweetener known as xylitol. Though low in calories, xylitol is extremely poisonous to dogs. Many almond butter brands contain this sweetener, so read the ingredients list thoroughly.
Though it should only be fed in moderation, almond butter is a safe treat to feed to dogs. It is higher in many key vitamins and minerals, like iron and the skin-protecting Vitamin E, than peanut butter. It’s also higher in antioxidants which can reduce inflammation and lower your dog’s risk of chronic illness or cancer. Just make sure to go for brands that are low in salt and sugar and free of artificial flavors, and remember: a little bit goes a long way.