Peanut butter has long been a staple in dog parents’ pantries – whether as a go-to high value treat to get your dog to take a pill or excel at training, as a special surprise in a frozen fillable toy to keep them occupied, or on a lick mat to distract them during baths and grooming sessions.
But, you might be wondering, what about other nut butters besides peanut butter? Can dogs have almond butter? If you’ve replaced peanut butter with almond butter in your pantry and are wondering if it’s okay to give to your pup, you’ve come to the right place.
Almond butter has started gaining popularity in recent years, as it provides a safer alternative to those with peanut allergies. This tasty, creamy butter is slightly healthier than peanut butter, as it has more minerals, fiber, and vitamins, but it’s similar in calories and sugar.
Read on to find out whether or not almond butter is safe for your pet and what to consider when giving it to your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Almond Butter?
First things first: is almond butter safe for dogs? Yes, it’s safe to feed your dog a small amount of almond butter as a treat occasionally. However, like peanut butter, it’s important to keep a few things in mind before reaching for this yummy butter for your pup.
Almond butter is made from ground-up raw or roasted almonds, which offer several health benefits but are best consumed in moderation. Almonds are a source of vitamin E, fiber, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that boosts your dog’s immune system and helps keep skin healthy. However, almonds are also high in fat and calories. An ounce (around 23 almonds) has 165 calories.
According to Dr. Jo Myers, practicing veterinarian at Vetster telehealth company, almond butter “doesn’t have any nutritional benefit” who are already eating a well-balanced diet. It presents a risk of weight gain and obesity, upset stomach (gastroenteritis), and pancreatitis, which is why it’s important to keep the quantity of almond butter small. “As the amount of almond butter goes up, so do the risks for problems,” Dr. Myers explains.
Additionally, Dr. Myers suggests that you should always check for any potentially toxic additives such as the sugar-free sweetener xylitol before giving almond butter to your pet. Xylitol is a natural substance derived from plants and is often used as a sugar alternative in candy, gum, and nut butters. It is extremely dangerous for dogs, causing low blood sugar and serious liver problems.
Almond Butter Vs. Peanut Butter for Dogs
As we mentioned, almond butter is a little bit healthier than peanut butter, but honestly, the two nut butters are pretty similar when it comes to feeding them to your dog. Two tablespoons of peanut butter is around 200 calories, and the same applies to almond butter.
In terms of canine nutrition, both nut butters are essentially equivalent, says Dr. Myers. She adds that either of these butters can interchangeably be given to your dog in small quantities every now and again. “Almond butter can be put in a stuffable toy, on a lick mat, in recipes for dog treats, or to hide a pill – essentially the same as how peanut butter is traditionally used,” she explains.
One thing to keep in mind is that almond butter tends to cost more money than peanut butter, making it a more expensive treat alternative.
Precautions When Giving Dogs Almond Butter
Because of the high caloric value, almond butter needs to be given to your dog in small quantities and only occasionally to prevent upset stomach or weight gain. Check the label to make sure it doesn’t have xylitol or other ingredients that may be harmful to your pup.
Natural almond butter, without any additional ingredients, is a safer option. The only listed ingredients should be almonds, and in some cases, a bit of salt. Even better, look for almond butter that has been made from organic almonds.
Expiration dates are helpful, but it’s crucial to check the food item itself to ensure it’s still safe to consume. “Food can be dangerously contaminated but still be in date, and food can remain safe to eat for months after the expiration date,” says Myers. “It’s more important to make sure it looks and tastes good, like something you would eat, and hasn’t spoiled.”
Additionally, before giving almond butter to your canine, stir the contents thoroughly because the oil will usually separate and rise to the top.
Although it’s uncommon, some dogs can be allergic to peanuts. In this case, before giving your pet any other nut butter, test them for allergies at the vet.
How to Give Dogs Almond Butter
If you’re looking to swap in almond butter for peanut butter every now and then, here are some fun ways you can incorporate it into your dog’s diet:
Dog Treats: Almond butter can be used to make dog biscuits or cookies. Combine one cup of almond butter with an egg, two cups of whole wheat flour, and a tablespoon of baking powder to make a mixture. Place small chunks of the dough (or cut out fun shapes using cookie cutters) on a baking sheet and bake them at 350°F for 20 minutes. You may also substitute wheat flour with oat flour. Sweet potatoes, pureed pumpkin, or bananas can be added for extra flavor and taste, depending on your pet’s preferences.
Food Toys: Dogs need mental stimulation to keep boredom at bay, and a food-dispensing toy is a perfect solution. Scoop a bit of almond butter inside, or better yet, stuff the toy with a little yogurt or kibble, line it with almond butter, and freeze it. Voila! A refreshing (and time-consuming) snack for your pup.
Lick Mat: Licking peanut butter or almond butter off a rubber or silicone lick mat is useful to your dog in a number of ways. First, the act of licking this high-value food from the textured mat’s grooves and brittles helps relieve your dog’s boredom and/or stress. Secondly, it will help them stay occupied during activities such as bathing (just put one up on the wall and you’ve got yourself a preoccupied dog) and grooming/trimming nails. It also helps create positive associations with these activities, which are not always high on a dog’s list of favorite pastimes. Lastly, if you’ve got a puppy at home, using a lick mat can help them stay busy and burn off excess energy.
Pilling: Similar to using peanut butter to hide a pill, you can choose almond butter as a high-value treat to entice your dog to take medication. Place a dab of almond butter on your finger or a teaspoon, or use your fingers to roll it into a ball. Hide the pill inside and let your dog enjoy the tasty goodness.