Can dogs eat almonds?

Imagine the following scenario: it is a cold winter night and you are all huddled up in your blanket sometime around 1 a.m. Your favorite movie is playing on your laptop and you are thoroughly enjoying this experience. You are also munching on a bag of sweet and salted almonds, which taste like heaven at that particular moment. Right about this time, your pet dog comes around and sits next to you with the most adorable and pitiful eyes – it wants some of your almonds. Now, before you completely cave in to the adorable antics of your dog and offer it a big handful of almonds, ask yourself this: can dogs eat almonds?

As much as you want to treat your dog to a generous helping of these rich and healthy nuts, keep in mind that almonds are not meant for canine consumption. On the contrary, despite the fact that almonds are chalk full of vitamins and healthy minerals, they present possible health issues and complications for your pet and these nuts need to be kept away from the reach or, rather, the teeth of your dog. As this article will explain, it is not a very good idea to feed your dog almonds. Here’s why:

Airway obstruction and choking

Dogs are messy and terrible eaters. There can be no doubt about this. They tend to be sloppy with their table manners and aren’t particularly known to chew their food properly and evenly. This might not be an issue with standard dog food or even other things we like to treat our dogs with, but almonds are a different story.

The way in which almonds are shaped means that they cannot be easily swallowed whole, which dogs tend to do. This means that these whole almonds may get stuck in the esophagus, stomach, or even the windpipe very easily. The possibility of the almond getting stuck in the windpipe is much greater for smaller dog breeds. In any case, such a situation puts your dog at serious risk, and a choking incident might become life-threatening if not dealt with immediately by getting veterinarian care. In extreme circumstances, surgery might be needed to clear the obstruction. In light of all this, it would seem prudent to just keep your dog away from almonds to start with.

Harsh gastrointestinal issues

It has been made clear that dogs lack the mechanism to properly eat almonds i.e. chewing before swallowing. This issue results in dogs possibly choking on the nuts before they actually reach the stomach. If they do reach the stomach, however, almonds still present a lot of problems. In the most benign and tame cases, your dog may suffer from indigestion from eating the almonds. Those nuts may be healthy snacks for us, but for dogs, they are a very rich and dense food which can be problematic during the digestion process.

Furthermore, your dog may develop serious gastrointestinal issues like pancreatitis. This is a medical condition which results from the inflammation of the pancreas. Almonds are rich in fat and oils, which aren’t the sort of things you should be feeding to your dog since its liver has a tendency to get fatty quite easily. Some possible symptoms you need to look out for if you suspect pancreatitis are a loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and sluggish behavior. This is a serious medical condition for your dog and needs to be promptly treated by your vet as soon as the symptoms start cropping up.

Besides these immediate issues, even the sporadic almond treats to your dog over a long period of time will mean a dog with an unusually fat liver and unhealthy body mass. This lifestyle could mean heart complications and liver failure for your dog, which is not something you would want to let happen under your watch.

Possibility of water retention

Most almonds that are sold as snacks in the market are salted or flavored. Therein lies another issue: while these flavored almonds are a delicious treat and you may be tempted to give just a few to your dog, there is a big possibility that your dog may suffer from water retention issues. Consumption of salt forces dogs to increase their intake of water dramatically because, like everyone else, excessive salt consumption makes them feel thirsty. The issue is that dogs don’t sweat and the only way to perspire is through panting. This means that all that excessive water is retained by the body and cannot be expelled.

This water retention can lead to breathing issues and chest pains and might pose a danger to the health of your dog if it is already suffering from a heart problem. In worst case scenarios, this water retention might become a life-threatening issue for your dog, which is another reason to steer clear of treating your dog with almonds.

Salt poisoning

Since most of the almonds available on the market are salted or flavored to some degree with salt, excessive consumption may lead to salt poisoning. This issue, which is caused by consumption of salt by the pet, can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, listlessness, fluid build-up in the body, excessive urination or thirst, tremors, injury to kidneys, seizures, coma and even death. Salt poisoning must be treated immediately through the administration of IVs, dehydration treatment, and care for possible brain swellings. It is better not to take risks like these when it comes to the well-being of your pet.

Be cautious

Despite all that has been said, there might be a moment of carelessness which results in your pet dog eating some almonds. If the amount eaten is small, like a couple of almonds, then there isn’t much need to panic. Just observe the dog for signs of indigestion or choking. On the other hand, if the dog has gotten its mitts on an entire bag of almonds, emergency action needs to be taken. Take the dog to your veterinarian or a poison control unit and have them induce vomit from the dog in a controlled manner. The almond content of the stomach needs to be completely flushed out from the dog’s system.