Can I Give My Dog Almonds?
Nuts are thought by many to be some of the most nutritionally dense, decadent, healthiest foods we can eat. They have that delicious fatty flavor we adore, they are full of protein, minerals, and other health-boosting compounds… and, best of all, they are versatile. We love to snack on nuts all by themselves, but we also loved them mixed into smoothies, baked into cookies and brownies, and sliced atop fresh green salads.
One of the most popular nuts (which works fabulously in all of the aforementioned dishes) is the almond. Though almonds are still not as popular as peanuts, in recent years, their popularity has risen at an astonishing rate. And little wonder—these days, we use almonds to create delicious nut butters, dairy-free cheeses, nut milks, and a wide range of other snacks.
It’s safe to say that almonds have become a standard treat in many of our pantries, which means that our pets are exposed to them many times throughout the week. But is this a good thing? Is it okay to share? Can dogs have almonds?
The answer is yes, dogs can eat almonds, but feeding your dog whole almonds is generally not recommended. In terms of toxicity, almonds are just as safe for your dog as peanuts—that is, there is little to no risk of poisoning associated with eating the occasional almond. This means that there is no reason to panic if your dog has broken into your (chocolate-free!) homemade trail mix and gobbled up a few almonds, but you may want to think twice before you begin feeding whole almonds to your dog with any regularity.
So, are there any benefits to tossing your dog a handful of almonds? There are a lot of potential benefits associated with feeding this ultra-healthy nut to people, and it is not unreasonable to believe that many of these benefits may apply to our canine companions, too. Unlike cats, dogs are omnivores, which means that they are able to extract nutrition from plant sources—including nut-based foods.
One of the health reasons people commonly cite for their almond consumption is their high amounts of Vitamin E. This vitamin can have a powerful effect on your dog’s overall health because of the role it plays in immunity. Supplementation of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, has been linked not only to a decreased incidence of common infections, but also to a decreased risk of developing tumors. In one human study, Vitamin E’s immunity-boosting effects even managed to slow the development of HIV into AIDS. Giving your dog foods that are high in this disease-fighting micronutrient may give their immune system the boost it needs to destroy a wide variety of pathogens and cancer cells. This means fewer colds, fewer visits to the vet’s office, and more years of life.
Both Vitamin E and the fatty acids found in almonds can support skin, joint, and brain health. This means that feeding your dog foods like almonds may slow the progression of diseases like arthritis. Dogs who eat the vitamins and fatty acids found in nuts may experience improved mobility and a reduction in pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
These same nutrients may be the key to giving your dog the shiny, luxurious coat they have always longed for—healthy fats are crucial to maintaining the silky luster of your dog’s fur coat. Supplementing their diet with Vitamin E and healthy fatty acids may also reduce itching, hot spots, and other skin problems. That means that your poor pup doesn’t have to scratch all the time, and you don’t have to deal with doggy dandruff all over your couch!
Things to Keep in Mind
However, there are two reasons why whole almonds are not recommended for dogs: first, they pose a choking hazard, and second, they can be difficult to digest. If you want to give almonds to your dog in a way that is more canine-friendly, opt for small amounts of almond butter. They will almost certainly enjoy it more, and the nutrition will be more readily available to them.
Regardless of how you give almonds to your dog, remember that moderation is important. Nuts are extremely high in fat and calories, which can contribute to obesity and pancreatitis. If your dog is already struggling with either of these problems, hold off on the nuts and opt for something more conducive to weight loss. Also remember that eating nuts may result in upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea. If your dog reacts poorly the first time they eat any nut, consult a veterinarian.
Though whole almonds are not recommended for canine consumption, almond butter may be a safe, healthy treat for your pooch. Almonds are nontoxic and high in fatty acids and Vitamin E, which both work to support skin and immune health. Just remember that this food should be used as a supplement or a treat, not a staple—all that fat adds up quickly!