There’s a saying that everything tastes better with butter. This sums up why dogs tend to like it as much as people do. But as we all know, butter is a dairy product and dogs and dairy are not always a friendly combination. Is butter bad for dogs? Read on to find out if it’s safe to offer any food with butter to your pet.
Butter: Dog-Friendly or Not?
The traditional way of making butter is beating cream or the thickest part of milk. This goes through churning until the milk fat clumps together to form a solid. Aside from butterfat, the ingredients of butter also include milk proteins and water. These days, manufacturers fortify their products with salt. Some also pasteurize fresh whole milk to eliminate vegetative bacteria.
Apparently, butter is a dairy product because it is mostly derived from cow’s milk although it may also come from the milk of goats, sheep, and buffalos. The problem with milk and other dairy products is that they usually cause diarrhea and vomiting in dogs.
Why does dairy make most dogs sick? This is due to their lactose intolerance. It’s possible for some dogs to consume dairy without any problem while others can be sick because of it. Lactose intolerance is pretty common in canines. This is because most of them lack the ability to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk.
A serving of butter only contains trace amounts of lactose. The real concern with butter is its high fat content. Butter is 80% fat so it’s definitely not a healthy choice for canines, especially for those with pancreatitis or the inflammation of the pancreas. This can occur if your pet was exposed to a high-fat food he’s not really used to eating.
A dog with pancreatitis is usually advised to eat foods that are either low in fat or do not contain any fat. If your pet can digest lactose, he can have some milk or dairy but only the non-fat types. Your vet may also recommend lean meat and skinless chicken for your pet.
Certain dog breeds are also more predisposed to having pancreatitis than the others. These include breeds such as cocker spaniels, Yorkshire terriers, and miniature poodles.
How will you know if your dog has pancreatitis? Look for signs of pain, because an inflamed pancreas can be very painful. Your pet might have a difficult time lying down or you might always find him in a hunched back position.
A dog with pancreatitis will also display inappetence and lethargy. He might also throw up, have loose stools, and will also look dehydrated. If your dog suddenly became weak and showed no interest in doing things he used to do, it’s apparent that there’s something wrong going on inside his body. Bring him to a veterinary hospital if he started showing symptoms of pancreatitis because this condition requires immediate veterinary attention. Do note, however, that not all kinds of butter are bad for dogs. There is dairy-free butter on the market and it’s probably safe for our pets in moderate quantities.
Going back to our question, is butter dog-friendly? Yes, as long as your dog can tolerate dairy products. Sometimes, pet owners are not aware that their pet can’t really digest dairy well until they offered it for the first time. If your pet has never before eaten any food containing butter, better observe how he reacts to it.
A dog prone to high-cholesterol and obesity should not be fed foods cooked with butter. There are so many types of diseases that dogs can get from having a diet that is too high in fats. Your dog could benefit from animal fat especially if he is prone to skin allergies. Still, it’s important to remember that dogs mostly need animal protein and only a small amount of fat in their diets.
If your pet consumes too much of fatty foods, his cholesterol level will likely go up. This can put him at risk for kidney diseases as well as diabetes. Therefore, we strongly go against giving dairy butter to pets.
What to Do When Your Dog Eats Butter
If your pet accidentally consumed a large quantity of butter, it is highly likely that he will experience diarrhea because of it. Expect loose stools especially if he is lactose intolerant. He could start having loose stools roughly eight to 24 hours after he consumed the butter.
When your dog is sick and is suffering from diarrhea, better give his stomach a rest for around 12 hours. Make sure he also gets access to fresh and clean water during the fasting. This prevents dehydration while you are giving his stomach a rest for several hours.
It will help to put him on a bland diet until he is fully recovered. Give him plain white rice and chicken. If your dog will not eat rice, try to offer oatmeal, potatoes, or eggs. A ¼ of a cup of a bland meal for every 10 lbs. of body weight should be enough to start with. Continue giving this or increase the number of feeding to four times a day until he is back to his usual appetite.
What’s dangerous is if your pet accidentally consumed the wrapper along with the butter. If it did not pass, your vet might advise you to give your pet a teaspoon of Vaseline three times in the next 24 hours. This is to help pass the wrapper from his stomach.
Healthy Alternatives to Dairy Butter
There are types of spreads and butter that are safer to give to dogs, especially if you have one that is lactose intolerant. We don’t recommend margarine, the popular substitute for butter because it may contain chemical ingredients. Here are the top ones on our list:
- Almond butter – many people are switching from dairy butter to almond butter because the latter contains more healthy fats. The bonus part is that it also contains vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium. When choosing an almond butter for your pet, go for the natural ones and those without the added salt.
- Peanut butter – it is also very popular among dogs and you can find a lot of doggie treats with it. You can also use it as an ingredient for making baked treats for your pet. When buying peanut butter, make sure it is free from xylitol that is poisonous to dogs. Many brands these days use xylitol for peanut butter and other kinds of nut butter. Also consider the raw and unsalted variety when buying peanut butter for Fido.
- Sunflower seed butter – it contains less fat compared to nut butter but it tastes just as good. This type of butter is definitely safe for dogs because sunflower seeds themselves are a healthy treat for doggies. The fat content of sunflower seed butter can be helpful to dogs with skin problems.
- Pumpkin seed butter – pumpkin seeds are actually being used as a natural solution for dog worms. Pumpkin seed butter can be a delicious alternative to peanut butter especially if your dog is quite allergic to nuts. You can even make your own pumpkin seed butter because it is so easy to do. Simply roast the raw seeds in the oven for around 10 minutes then put them in a food processor until you get your desired consistency.
- Cashew butter – in moderate amounts, cashews and their butter form are safe for dogs. They are a great source of Omega-6 fatty acids that can benefit your pet’s skin and coat. Your dog will love this butter for its nutty taste and creamy texture.
Important Reminder to Dog Owners
While the types of butter we mentioned above are definitely safe for dogs, it’s still best to practice moderation when giving anything to your pet. Also, let your vet know if you’re planning to include it in your pet’s diet. We don’t recommend giving nut butter or even dairy butter to dogs with pancreatitis.
Butter is not toxic to dogs but it’s still not a good addition to your pet’s diet. A slight dab of it on your pet’s treat surely would not hurt but don’t do it on a regular basis as it contains unhealthy amounts of fat that could leave your pooch with an upset stomach. Your dog could suffer from diarrhea after eating lots of butter.
Avoid giving your pet butter or any food that contains high amounts of fat because this puts him at risk of pancreatitis which is the inflammation of the pancreas. This condition can occur when a dog often eats people food or is on a diet that is high in fat.