Nuts come in various form and artificial flavors. Peanut butter used to be the only nut butter available in stores, but now you can easily find cashew and almond butters in most big box grocery stores. You’ll also find nuts in a variety of flavors from roasted to spicy to sweet. Nutritionists are realizing the power of nuts for humans and encourage you to make them a regular part of your diet. Not only do they give you a source of protein that isn’t animal based, they’re also filled with fiber, vitamin E, flavonoids, and amino acids. But do dogs benefit from nuts in the same way that humans do?
The Lowdown on Nuts and Dog Safety
You can give your dog a few different kinds of nuts without any negative side effects. Moderation is critical, though; too much of any kind of nut is going to cause gastric upset. Some dogs will get loose stool after just a few nuts, while others can experience full blown diarrhea or vomiting. If you toss your pup a few nuts as a snack and you notice their stool loosening, you should immediately stop feeding nuts.If you’re worried about allergies, you should know that nuts aren’t significant allergens in most dogs. For dogs who do have a history of allergies, though, nuts can trigger an allergic reaction.
It doesn’t matter if your dog’s allergic history is due to contact (weeds, grass, or pollen) or food allergies, you shouldn’t knowingly give them a food that’s considered an allergen. Signs of an allergic reaction can be as minor as stomach upset, and vomiting immediately after eating a nut is a sign of an allergy. Other signs can include itching, hives, and facial swelling. If you notice any of these, your dog needs to see a veterinarian to have an antihistamine and steroid administered.
Nuts can be a hazard if they aren’t shelled. The way the shells break down when chewed results in sharp, jagged pieces. They can damage the esophagus as the dog swallows, or the shells can damage the intestines as they pass through the digestive tract. If you like to keep a bowl of unshelled nuts around on your coffee or end tables, you should think twice and keep them up out of your dog’s reach. Dogs aren’t necessarily picky when it comes to what they snack on, so don’t think that your bowl of walnuts are going to seem unappetizing to them.
Can I Feed My Dog Nut Butters, like Peanut and Almond Butter?
Nut butters can be healthy for dogs, but they should be given in small, infrequent amounts. You can give your dog peanut butter as a creamy treat to keep him entertained while you step out of the house. You can also freeze it to make a dog-friendly treat that mimics ice cream. If you give them nut butters, they should be low sodium and sugar free. Try to stick to organic, all natural butters to limit how much sugar and salt your dog is eating.
Nuts tout a high level of fat, and while they’re considered good fats, too much can cause weight gain, high blood pressure, and pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas when it becomes overloaded with fat and is unable to break it down. Dogs who come down with this disorder usually recover well if they’re treated by a veterinarian, but they should never be left to recover at home. They need IV fluids to flush the fat from their system and pain medications to help alleviate their severe abdominal pain. One case of pancreatitis even requires your dog to go on a lifelong low-fat diet to prevent any more flares, so be careful and don’t over do it.
Some Nuts are Poisonous for Dogs
Finally, there are nuts out there that are considered poisonous to your dog. Before you give your dog any kind of nut, you should find out whether or not they could cause serious harm to your dog. Macadamia nuts should never be given to your dog in any form. Even a small amount can lead to neurological symptoms like muscle tremors and even seizures.
Are There Any Benefits to Giving Your Dog Nuts?
Your dog certainly doesn’t need any nuts to be healthy. They get all of their nutrition from their dog food, so anything additional you give them should be considered nothing more than a snack.
Certainly the fatty acids found in nuts can be good for their coat and skin. Peanut butter is a great time-waster for dogs who like their toys to keep them constantly stimulated. You can put a smear into a toy with a hollow core and your dog will stay busy for hours trying to lick it out.
Remember that your dog doesn’t need any food outside of their normal dog food. If you purchase a high quality dog food, you shouldn’t have to worry about your dog needing any extra nutrition. Always do your research before you give your dog any type of food that isn’t specifically made for canines, and you’ll greatly reduce their risk of any negative side effects.