Can dogs eat almonds and other nuts?
Nuts are a very popular snack choice for people. They’re small, tasty, accessible, and easy to prepare. Nuts are usually available raw and ready-to-eat in a variety of packages. Given how popular and common nuts are, it’s only natural to ask if these tasty snacks can also be given to our canine friends. It’s important to be aware of the food types that are safe to give to dogs, and which ones can cause severe health problems. Are all nuts safe for dogs? And how much can you give to them? Keep reading to find out!
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Are nuts a safe treat for dogs?
In general, most nuts are safe to give, provided it’s done in controlled portions and only occasionally. Most nuts can be digested and absorbed by dogs without causing any adverse reactions. However, safe as they are, nuts are not the healthiest snack choice for our furry friends. Too much of it can, like with most human food, cause a wide range of symptoms from simple gastric upset to severe pancreatitis.
Is it dangerous for my dog to eat nuts?
Nuts are a calorie-dense type of food with high amounts of essential fatty acids. Dogs that eat even a small number of nuts on a regular basis are at risk of becoming overweight because of their high-calorie content. Gaining weight due to excessive calorie intake can cause serious health problems in dogs, such as arthritis, and may increase their risk of developing diabetes.
The high concentration of essential fatty acids in nuts can also contribute to rapid weight gain. But the more serious concern surrounding the fat content of nuts is the risk of pancreatitis. Eating a large volume of nuts can trigger pancreatitis in dogs, a serious and sometimes fatal condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.
The hazards mentioned above can be experienced with every type of nut since all of them contain high amounts of fatty acids and are calorie-dense. Certain types of nuts can have additional health hazards that dog owners should know and be wary about.
Salted and Coated Nuts
Nuts come in different varieties, and while some of them are unsalted and raw, some nuts are served salted or coated in different flavors. If you decide to give your dog the occasional nut treat, it’s best to stay clear of the salted and coated ones, as they can increase the risk of health hazards for your dog.
Dogs have a very low tolerance to salt and giving salted nuts as treats can cause a multitude of health problems. Excessive salt intake in dogs can lead to kidney damage and subsequent failure, a serious health condition that often needs life-long treatment to be managed. High salt intake due to nuts can also cause cardiac problems in dogs and is often irreversible once damage to heart muscles has already occurred.
Some commercially available nuts are coated with chocolate, garlic, or an artificial sweetener like xylitol. Excessive consumption of these flavors and ingredients can lead to severe illnesses in dogs. Chocolates are highly toxic and can cause neurological signs like tremors and seizures in dogs. Garlic can lead to bleeding disorders and cause severe anemia. Xylitol can cause liver failure and hypoglycemia in some animals.
Peanuts are considered to be the safest nuts to give to dogs. In moderation, they can be an ideal treat for some animals. Care must be taken when giving peanuts to smaller breeds, as they can be a choking hazard for these animals. Peanut butter is a popular choice by most dog owners for hiding medications that need to be given orally. But like any other nuts, peanuts and peanut butter contain high amounts of fat and should only be used sparingly.
English walnuts are considered safe and non-toxic, apart from the hazards mentioned above. Black walnuts, however, contain a toxic compound that, when ingested by dogs, can cause muscle weakness, tremors, and even seizures.
The primary health hazard associated with almonds, apart from their very high fat content, is their size. Almonds are significantly larger, and relatively harder, than most nuts and are, therefore a choking and obstruction hazard for most dogs. Medium and small-sized dogs are at greater risk because of their size, but larger breeds are at risk as well.
Pistachio nuts are generally safe to give, barring the mentioned health hazards. The risk surrounding pistachios is mostly with their shells. They have a very hard shell that can cause choking or obstruction when ingested by dogs.
So, are nuts an ideal treat for dogs?
While nuts are tasty snacks that are readily available, the health hazards associated with them must always be kept in mind if you decide on giving your dog the occasional nut treat. They can be a very effective tool during training or when you need to administer oral medications, but they have to be used sparingly to avoid serious health problems.
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