Many of us love butter, whether it’s on our morning toast, melted into mashed potatoes, or baked into our favorite cookies; it is a common condiment and ingredient found in or on many of our foods.
But we aren’t the only ones who think butter is a tasty treat. Many of our canine companions also enjoy the creamy, rich flavor too.
In fact, there have been more than one dog in our family to swipe a bit of butter from time to time.
Often, it is too much of a temptation for a dog pass up.
For example, my dad’s Golden Retriever, Daisy, was a certified therapy dog. She was well trained and rarely got herself in trouble until it came to butter.
Daisy had a great fondness for this golden treat. Whether she thought it added to her golden color or if she just loved the taste, we will never know, but it was the one thing she couldn’t resist.
Fortunately, Daisy didn’t have ill effects from eating butter, even the one time she got a stick of butter from the counter.
Usually, when a dog consumes that much fat (saturated fat or healthy fat) they at the very least experience GI upset, if not land themselves in the vet hospital.
Thankfully though, she was one of the fortunate dogs with an iron stomach.
Sadly Daisy is no longer with us, but we still enjoy laughing about her antics when it came to her love of butter.
Can Dogs Eat Butter?
Yes, dogs can eat butter.
Butter is not toxic, and some dogs may tolerate it without any adverse effects.
However, this is not true for all dogs as many have minor to severe reactions to consuming it. Much depends on your dog’s ability to process butter as well as the quantity consumed.
But the bottom line is that butter is not toxic to dogs.
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Is Butter Good for Dogs?
Although some people believe butter has health benefits for humans, such as being able to reduce risks of cancer, aid in weight management, and decrease inflammation, these assertions are based on human consumption and do not apply to dogs.
Humans can often process butter and other fats more effectively than dogs. Not all human foods are good for dogs.
As far as health benefits for dogs, butter has too many negative side-effects that outweigh any possible advantages.
What Makes ButterBad for Dogs?
The two primary things that make butter bad for dogs are the fat and dairy content.
Even if your pup has an iron stomach, few dogs benefit from added fat and calories from butter.
Plus, butter is a dairy product, and many dogs are lactose intolerant.
Possible Dangers of Butter
Butter can have significant ill effects on dogs, depending on their tolerance to dairy and fat.
Because butter contains lactose, some dogs may experience minor side-effects like flatulence, diarrhea, and constipation.
Also, some dogs, like Sophie, are allergic to dairy and will experience an allergy flareup, often in the form of increased itchiness.
However, other dogs may experience severe, even deadly side effects from consuming butter.
Excessive fat intake in your dog’s diet is linked to canine pancreatitis, so if your dog consumes too much, it can result in a pancreatitis flareup, which is an excruciatingly painful condition.
Calvin and Sophie have both suffered from idiopathic pancreatitis. Meaning they have no idea what caused the flareup.
Because Calvin has chronic pancreatitis, and though his flareups are not from fat consumption, we still need to monitor his fat intake to avoid unwanted issues.
So, butter is not on the approved food list for either dog. Other dairy products, like whipped cream, can also cause these problems.
Symptoms to Look For
If your dog has gotten into the butter, you will want to monitor them closely for:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Your dog holds the downward dog position for an extended period
- Loss of appetite
If your dog is showing any of the signs above, it is vital to get them into the vet clinic. If your vet is not open, then you will want to go to the emergency vet.
In Calvin and Sophie’s case, they were both held overnight at the emergency vet so that they could be monitored and receive IV fluids, pain meds, and anti-nausea medicine.
Though pancreatitis is treatable, it can be fatal in some dogs.
How Much Butter Can a Dog Eat Daily?
There is no set amount of butter deemed to be safe for a dog to eat.
I am guessing if Calvin were to eat a tablespoon of butter, we would be going to the vet, but as I mentioned earlier, my dad’s dog Daisy could eat a stick of it and never have as much as an upset stomach.
Unfortunately, butter lacks specific rules, and it is a gray area that changes based on each dog.
However, even if your dog could tolerate butter daily, the reality is that it is still high in fat, which most dogs don’t need.
Obesity in dogs is a real issue and comes with its own laundry list of negative impacts on our dog’s health. So, giving your dog waffles with butter will have long-term problems too.
Can Dog Suffer from High-Cholesterol?
Yes, dogs can have adverse effects from high cholesterol levels.
Dogs who have tested positive for having too many fat molecules, lipids, in their blood are said to have hyperlipidemia, which is a general term used for conditions specifically related to the lipid content in a dog’s blood.
Hyperlipidemia is often associated with other conditions such as Cushing’s Disease, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.
Is Margarine Okay for Dogs?
Margarine is a processed butter alternative often containing chemicals to make it look and taste more like butter.
Margarine is worse for dogs than butter not only due to the chemicals made to make it but also because it also contains trans fats, which is just as bad if not worse for dogs.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Butter
As much as I dread writing this, it depends.
If your dog has eaten a small bit of butter, then likely it will have little to no impact on their health.
However, depending on your dog’s sensitivity to fat and dairy, your dog may experience some adverse reactions.
If your dog has consumed a large amount of butter, you must monitor them for symptoms of pancreatitis.
Though some of the symptoms for lactose intolerance and pancreatitis overlap, pancreatitis symptoms will be more severe, last longer, and are likely to worsen with time.
Whereas dogs with lactose intolerance will often show little to no change in overall behavior and the symptoms will pass quickly.
If you suspect your dog has pancreatitis it is vital you seek immediate medical attention for them to ensure they receive proper treatment.
The earlier the vet starts treatment, the less severe the symptoms
will be, and the higher chance your dog will recover faster.
Since butter has no health benefits and only poses a risk of illness, it is best to avoid giving your dog butter.
However, in small amounts, I believe most dogs will be fine having butter from time to time.
But if you are concerned about the ill effects or if your dog suffers from chronic pancreatitis or other health issue impacted by fat, cholesterol, or dairy, I would just avoid it altogether.
In fact, you should probably avoid giving your dog any table food. This will discourage begging and any possible health issues.