There’s more to the world of nut butters than the popular peanut butter. Most kinds of nuts can be ground up into a tasty homemade paste for those who are mindful of ingredients.
People with specific nut allergies or dietary restrictions or a simple taste for taste bud adventure can stroll further down the grocery aisle and try more daring nut butters – one of them being almond butter.
As dog owners, we get the occasional puppy eyes looking up at us while enjoying our own snacks, but what happens if you’re eating almond butter? As with any food, we find ourselves asking something along the lines of, “Can my dog have some almond butter?”
As a responsible pet owner, we’re glad that you decided to take some time to research whether or not your dog can eat a certain food! Let’s delve into almond butter and whether you can give your dog some almond butter, the benefits, what to be weary of, alternatives, and what other nut butters you shouldn’t give your dog.
What is Almond Butter?
Almond butter is essentially ground up almonds. Some brands may have added salt, sugar, and other seasonings and additives but the base recipe is the same. The oils in the almonds mix together with the granules to make a smooth and delicious paste.
How Does Almond Butter Compare to Peanut Butter?
Almond butter and peanut butter are about the same nutritionally with very small differences. Here’s a handy chart to help break down the differences between these two common nut butters. (Salt and sugar are not included as these are additives and depend on the brand you’re using. Almonds and peanuts don’t contain salt naturally and their sugar content is very low.)
|Almond Butter||Peanut Butter|
|Fiber||3.3 grams per 2 tablespoons||>||1.6 grams per 2 tablespoons|
|Calories||200 cal. per 2 tablespoons||>||190 cal. Per 2 tablespoons|
|Fat||18 grams per 32 grams of almond butter||>||16 grams per 32 grams of peanut butter|
|Saturated Fat||2 grams per 32 grams of almond butter||<||3 grams per 32 grams of peanut butter|
|Protein||6.7 grams per serving||<||7.1 grams per serving|
Almond butter wins when it comes to the vitamins and minerals department, having three times more vitamin E, several times more calcium, and twice as much iron than peanut butter. That’s not to say that peanut butter is a slouch in vitamins and minerals. It contains four times more vitamin B3, two times more vitamin B6, and over thirteen times more selenium than almond butter.
Both of these nut butters contain vitamin B2, vitamin B6, biotin, potassium, magnesium, and zinc in more or less equal amounts.
What Vitamins Are Found in Almond Butter and Why Are They Important for Dogs?
Fiber – important for keeping your puppy’s tummy happy. This keeps things running smooth and combats constipation.
Calories – serves as fuel that your dog’s body needs to stay energetic and happy.
Fat – also acts as fuel for your dog – just be weary not to have too much in quantity as too much fat could result in weight gain and dog obesity, and possibly result in diabetes.
Saturated Fat – differs from regular fat because saturated fat contains more hydrogen atoms. While humans should avoid saturated fats, dog metabolism doesn’t see much of a difference between saturated and unsaturated fat.
Protein – an important component of a dog’s body. Your dog needs protein to build and repair body parts, such as muscle. If your dog is particularly zoomy and active, they’ll need protein to make up for the muscle they build.
Vitamin B2 – also known as riboflavin, this vitamin keep your dog’s appetite up, eyes clear, and skin healthy.
Vitamin B3 – also known as niacin, which helps your dog break down sugar and fats during energetic bursts of playfulness. It also helps them in making fatty acids and plays a role in keeping your dog’s skin and coat healthy, and supports a healthy gastrointestinal system in dogs.
Vitamin B6 – most commercial dog foods have sufficient vitamin content and this particular vitamin plays an important role for dogs with diabetes, insulin resistance, or cushing’s disease. If your dog is on a homemade diet, they could experience deficiencies in vitamins such as vitamin B6 which may result in kidney stones, stunted growth, anemia, cavities, muscle weakness, hair loss, and many more nasty conditions as a result of vitamin B6 deficiency in dogs.
Vitamin B9 – also known as folic acid, vitamin B9 is great for dogs with small intestinal problems.
Vitamin E – a great antioxidant for fighting off free radicals. It’s also essential for forming cell membranes to keep your dog’s cells safe and strong, particularly in the heart, liver, skeletal muscles, and nerves. Vitamin E also plays an essential role for healthy skin and coat due to its ability to help reduce flakiness and also moisturizes.
Biotin – good for your dog’s skin and fur, especially for those with dry and flaky skin. Biotin helps your pup’s digestive digestive system by breaking down fatty acids and proteins. It’s also good for their nervous system as biotin is essential in for healthy connective tissue in nerve cells.
Calcium – great for strong teeth and bones, along with aiding in proper nerve transmission and blood clotting.
Iron – together with copper, iron makes hemoglobin. This is what gives blood the rich color of red. This is also what bonds to the oxygen and allows red blood cells to deliver it throughout the body. A lack of iron in your dog’s diet can result in lethargy and anemia.
Magnesium – essential to your dog’s nervous system. Magnesium deficiency has symptoms like muscle weakness, trembling, depression, and an abnormal heartbeat.
Potassium – your dog loses potassium each time they empty their bladder, which can result in potassium deficiency, or hypokalemia in dogs. Symptoms include low energy, muscle loss, weight gain, pain, weakness, and even difficulty in breathing, and often tends to affect the cardiac muscles, neurological muscles, and skeletal muscles.
Zinc – zinc deficiency affects larger dogs such as huskies, but can also affect smaller dogs as well. Zinc is one of the most commonly used minerals found in our dog’s bodies and helps with fighting off bacteria and viruses, helps with the healing of wounds, and plays an important role during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood.
In the end, almond butter has a slight edge compared to peanut butter in general but depending on your dog’s dietary needs peanut butter could possibly outweigh the benefits. All of this is nothing without one of the most crucial factors: which nut butter does your dog like best? It doesn’t matter how healthier one is compared to the other if your dog refuses to eat it. Any puppy parent who has tried feeding medicine to a stubborn pup can tell you that much. Almond butter may be generally difficult to find in certain areas whereas all-natural peanut butter may tend to be much more easily available. However, be sure to check the label for the salt and sugar content of your chosen nut butter. Some brands offer low salt content, so be sure to opt for that instead.
A Warning about Salt and Sugar
Remember that excessive salt and sugar can result in kidney problems in dogs. So it’s important to keep in mind that your dog shouldn’t have too many salty treats.
Too much sugar can upset your dog’s stomach by upending their stomach bacteria and cause cavities. In the long term, sugar is fattening and can cause obesity in your dog, which can lead to diabetes. Nut butters are simply a treat, not a replacement for your dog’s main food source.
Now you’re thinking salt and sugar free nut butters must be perfect for a dog to eat all the time then, right? The answer is a big no! A common artificial sweetener called xylitol is incredibly poisonous to dogs. If you have a food processor or a blender, it’s highly advised that you make your own almond, peanut, or any other dog safe nut butters out there. Below, we’ve provided a handy recipe for you.
How to Make Your Own Almond Butter
In cases where you might not have easy access to almond butter, or perhaps are mindful of what goes into your dog’s treats, or perhaps you’ve got a food processor lying around and you’re looking for an excuse to bust it out and give it a whirl… whatever the reason may be, here’s a simple recipe for creamy almond butter for you and your dog to enjoy.
You will need:
- Raw almonds
- An oven
- Baking sheet
- Food processor or a strong blender
- Rubber spatula (or any tool for scraping down the sides of your processor or blender)
- Spread the raw almonds across your baking sheet. Toast them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350ºF. This will make it easier to process so you don’t have to leave your machine on for too long. You can skip this step, but the toasted flavor is much more enticing. However, if you’re making this batch just for your dog, you can skip on this step. (Unless your dog is an almond butter connoisseur, I’m sure they won’t mind.)
- While still warm, carefully put the almonds into your processor. You might have to do this in batches if your machine has a smaller capacity. Place some tin foil over your remaining almonds to retain the heat or keep it in your still-warm oven.
- Every now and then stop the machine and scrape the sides if you see any bits that weren’t blended in. This may take some patience, but it’s essential that you thoroughly blend the almonds until they become powdery.
- After a while, the oils from the almonds will bind the granules together and you’ll begin to see a small mass forming. This is a good sign that things are going as planned! Continue to scrape and blend the mix.
- A chunky mass of butter will begin to form. You can stop at this step if you prefer an extra crunch to your almond butter, or continue to blend thoroughly and scrape until you reach the smooth consistency found in store bought almond butter.
- Add your desired sugar and salt into the mixture and thoroughly blend until evenly dispersed and smooth – but be sure not to add to much if you’ll be giving some to your dog! Alternatively, you can separate out a batch made especially for your dog without any additives to make sure that it is fido-proof, just be sure to label it properly.
- Let the almond butter cool in your desired container(s). Refrigerate your almond butter and consume it within two weeks.
Now that you have some home-made dog friendly almond butter, or store bought dog friendly almond butter, you can let your dog have a go at a spoonful as is, coat a vitamin tablet with it, or even bake it into a tasty homemade dog treat. Here’s an easy Betty Crocker recipe for homemade almond butter dog treats that your dog is bound to love. You’ll need a cup of your almond butter, eggs, flour, baking powder, milk, an oven, and you’re all good to go. You won’t necessarily need a bone shaped cookie cutter as it’s more on aesthetics. You can simply reshape by hand using simple shapes such as squares with a knife. Either way, it’ll still be a tasty treat!
Alternatives to Almond Butter
Aside from being about as healthy as peanut butter, peanut butter is another popular choice amongst dog owners looking to give their pup the occasional out-of-the-ordinary treat. Plus, peanut butter is a lot more easy to find in the grocery aisle than almond butter is. Most dogs love peanut butter, and it’s safe to say that peanut butter is safe for dogs – but should only be fed in small quantities.
Here’s a fun fact: did you know that when a dogs in movies lick faces on que, there’s usually a little bit of peanut butter smeared on the actors’ and actresses’ faces? This helps encourage the dogs to get that picture-perfect movie shot!
Cashews are a delectable and are not toxic to dogs, but due to its high content, should only be fed in small or moderate amounts seldomly. Cashew butter is easy to make and blends smoothly. Again, cashew butter is an alternative snack for dogs, but it should not be fed on a regular basis and only served as a snack – not a substitute for their entire meal.
Nuts Dogs Shouldn’t Eat
You should take note that whilst the above nuts are good for your dog, there are also a few nuts that you should avoid giving to your dog.
Chocolate Covered Nuts
To put it short, anything covered with chocolate should never be given to your dog. Chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs. Why is chocolate so toxic to dogs? Chocolate contains theobromine, and while humans can easily metabolize this, our four-legged friends process theobromine much more slowly which build up toxicity quickly.
Small amounts may result in an upset stomach, but large amounts of chocolate can result in seizures, muscle tremors, internal bleeding, irregular heartbeat, or a heart attack. It’s best that you completely avoid your dog getting his nose into the smallest bit of chocolate, and in the case that you dog consumes chocolate, induce vomiting within two hours of ingestion and take him to the veterinarian immediately.
While these green nuts are a favorite to many dog owners, the same doesn’t go for our dogs. Pistachios for dogs can become a choking hazard, and aside from that, these green nuts can carry a mold called Aspergillus that contains a toxin called aflatoxin that can damage your dog’s liver.
Walnuts of any kind, be it black walnuts, english walnuts, and japanese walnuts should best not be given to your dog. Walnuts in general aren’t bad for dogs, but they may contain mold that contains a fungi called tremorgenic mycotoxin which can result in extremely dangerous neurological health issues.
Macadamia nuts in any form, raw or toasted, are dangerous to dogs. Although scientists have yet to figure out what exactly causes macadamia toxicity in canines, the effects brought on from consumption can be very severe. Dogs who have consumed macadamia nuts display tremors, shivering, vomiting, weakness in mobility, fever, and diarrhea.
If you suspect that your dog may have gotten his paws on a nut or two, or more, contact your veterinarian immediately. If you have macadamia nuts in your household, be sure to be extra careful with where you store them and if any pieces are dropped when you consume them.
Much like pistachios, pecans may contain aflatoxin and juglone, both of which are very toxic not only to dogs, but to horses as well. If a dog gets ahold of some pecans, they could experience gastrointestinal upset or obstruction. In severe cases, a dog that has consumed pecans may experience seizures or neurological problems.
The Bottom Line: Almond Butter and Dogs
Yes, dogs can have some almond butter, but only in moderation and in small quantities. Almond butter is slightly healthier than peanut butter for dogs, but the differences are negligible.
Always remember to read the label carefully and rule out Xylitol which is toxic to dogs, along with high sodium and sugar content. It’s much safer to make your own batch of unsalted and unseasoned plain almond butter for your dog if you plan on giving or making him a few treats.
In the case that your dog happens to steal a nut or two from your bowl, be sure to monitor their behavior closely and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent any serious complications.
With all things considered, nuts are generally not the ideal snack for dogs and there are plenty of healthier and safer alternatives to dog snacks out there.
Dawn Greer is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.