You’re not likely to take a slice of butter and eat it on its own, however, our furry friends have been known to nick sticks of butter and scoff it whole.
A lot of us give toast crusts to our dogs, but you might be worried that the butter or spread on your toast could be potentially harmful to your dog. So can dogs eat butter, or is this salty spread best kept out of reach of sniffing snouts?
Technically, dogs can eat butter in very small amounts and they will usually be perfectly fine. Butter doesn’t typically contain any ingredients that are toxic to dogs, like grapes or xylitol, so eating a bit of butter won’t poison your pooch.
However, butter has very little nutritional content so it’s certainly not good for your doggo to eat. There’s not exactly a ton of vitamins and minerals in the salty spread to make it worth feeding it to your pooch. And while there aren’t many reasons you should offer your dog butter, there are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t feed it to Fido.
Butter is made up almost entirely of fat, with about half of that being saturated fat, which isn’t any good for our furry friends. Eating butter regularly or alongside other high-fat foods can lead to unhealthy weight gain and eating too many fatty treats like lots of butter could put your pup at risk of developing pancreatitis.
No, dogs shouldn’t eat salted butter for the same reason they shouldn’t eat butter. It isn’t toxic, so a little lick probably won’t do your pooch any harm. However, they shouldn’t be fed butter on its own, and ideally, they shouldn’t eat foods fried in butter. They certainly shouldn’t scoff a whole stick of spread either!
Just like unsalted butter, salted butter is still very high in fat and eating too many fatty foods can lead to obesity. Obesity is a serious concern amongst vets, and most pets in the UK are overweight, which can shorten their lives by as much as 2 years and increases their risk of secondary conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Unsurprisingly, salted butter is also full of salt. Your dog needs some sodium in their diet to stay healthy, but too much can cause dehydration, sodium poisoning, or hypernatremia.
We all know dogs love peanut butter, and your pooch can eat a little bit of peanut butter as a treat as long as it doesn’t contain xylitol.
Xylitol is a sweetener that is often found in peanut butter and it’s highly poisonous to dogs. Even a trace amount of this sweetener can cause serious illness, including liver failure.
Peanut butter can still be quite fatty and salty though, so it’s best kept as a special treat and you should always feed it to your dog in moderation.
Since dogs love peanut butter, you might wonder if there are other tasty nut butters out there your furry friend could try. Almond butter is safe for dogs to eat in very small amounts because it doesn’t usually contain anything toxic. You will still need to check the label to make sure there is no xylitol in the recipe though!
Almond butter is still pretty fatty so it should only be fed in moderation, if at all. Plus, dogs are quite sensitive to almonds and eating some almond butter might irritate their stomach and cause gastrointestinal illness. This is because almonds contain trace amounts of amygdalin, a compound that turns into cyanide when digested. The amount of amygdalin in almonds isn’t enough to be toxic but it could still upset your pup’s stomach.
Butter could be considered “bad” for dogs because although it smells and tastes delicious, there’s nothing nutritious about it. There are next to no vitamins or minerals for your furry friend to benefit from, and there’s a very negligible amount of protein. In fact, the only thing butter really provides is fat and calories, (as well as taste!)
As mentioned above, eating a lot of butter, or eating butter and other fatty and calorie-packed foods regularly, can lead to your dog gaining weight. Although you might think your pooch looks cute being a little chubby, it can have a big impact on their overall health and wellbeing.
Piling on the pounds puts increased pressure on your pup's organs, particularly their heart, which will have to work harder to pump blood around their body. Carrying extra weight also makes them more likely to suffer from joint problems like arthritis, hip dysplasia, and can cause lameness.
An obese dog is also at higher risk of a number of health problems, including cancer. Keeping your dog a healthy weight will involve making sure treats stay as treats, and that they eat a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. In return, you’ll help to prevent illness (and vet bills,) and put your pooch on track for a healthier, longer life.
Too much fat in your dog’s diet can also lead to pancreatitis. Although butter isn’t toxic and munching some shouldn’t put your dog’s life at risk, if your pooch managed to scoff a whole stick of butter they might trigger an episode of acute pancreatitis which can be fatal if it isn’t treated promptly. A pooch who has suffered pancreatitis previously is more at risk of another flare-up, and once your dog has suffered from the condition they will need to watch what they eat for the rest of their life. That’s is why it’s so important to prevent it from happening in the first place and make sure you stop Fido from scoffing too much fat!
Another problem with butter that you might not think about is the wrapper. If your pup’s eaten a whole block of butter they’ve managed to steal from the kitchen side, it’s possible they’ve scoffed it wrapper and all.
The butter wrapper, whether it’s waxed paper or foil, could be a choking hazard and has the potential to cause an intestinal blockage, especially if your pooch is small in size. You should keep an eye on them for a few days and see if the wrapper comes out in their poo, and if they show any signs of pain, sickness, or difficulty breathing, you should always contact your vet for advice.
Because butter is a dairy product, it is possible that your dog could be allergic to it. Dairy is one of the most common allergens for canines.
However, it is much more likely your dog will be intolerant to butter rather than allergic to it. Most adult dogs are lactose intolerant, as their body stops producing the enzyme which breaks milk down once they grow out of puppyhood. In other words, they can’t digest dairy properly once they’re an adult, and it can cause stomach cramps and gastrointestinal upset a bit like it does for lactose intolerant humans.
If your pooch is lactose intolerant and eats a ton of butter, you can expect they’ll have diarrhoea and loose stools for a few days. They might also suffer from a bout of vomiting, abdominals cramps, and excess flatulence. Food intolerance isn’t going to cause your dog any serious harm, but it will make them uncomfortable and might cause a bit of mess!
Butter isn’t poisonous to dogs so dogs can eat butter in small amounts without any risk of serious harm. However, it isn’t healthy for your furry friend so they definitely shouldn’t be snacking on it.
Otherwise, a homemade doggy biscuit that uses some butter in the recipe, or a little layer of butter left on a toast crust your pup has munched, should all be perfectly fine for Fido. Just avoid feeding your dog foods that are fried or basted in butter, and make sure your pooch can’t scoff a whole stick. Dogs have been known to steal sticks of butter and munch them, so it’s best kept out of reach of hungry doggos!
Avoid high-fat snacks such as butter and feed your dog complete, balanced meals to provide them with all the nutrients they need to prevent them from piling on the pounds. We only use the good stuff in Pure recipes, so your dog gets the right nutrition to live a happy, healthy life.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.