As a staple ingredient in many recipes, butter consists of 99 percent fat and 1 percent protein scant. To be more illustrative, 100 grams of butter contain around 50 grams of saturated fats. Saturated fats are the unhealthy fats.
For this reason, in terms of risks and benefits, butter has been and still remains a questionable food. While some experts claim the pros of eating butter outweigh the cons, others support the opposite claim.
With so many uncertainties regarding butter and human nutrition, what can we say about dogs eating butter? Well, one thing is for sure – butter is not directly toxic to dogs. However, eating an entire stick of butter will rarely pass without any consequences.
This article will explain everything you need to know about dogs and butter – from health benefits and risks through safe amounts to what to do in case your dog eats a stick of butter.
The Benefits of Butter for Dogs
Before getting excited about the perks of butter, consider that the list of benefits butter offers to dogs is fairly short. Namely, naturally cultured types of butter are rich in some vitamins, mainly vitamin A and vitamin B12.
However, both vitamins can be found in many other foods that are much more dog-friendly than butter.
Plus, store-bought butter versions are all fat and no vitamins. So, simply put, butter has no unique nutritional value for dogs.
The Risks of Butter for Dogs
On the other hand, the list of risks is considerably longer. These are the potential issues associated with dogs eating butter.
Too much butter can wreak havoc on the dog’s digestive system. Contrary to popular belief and in spite of the dogs’ willingness to eat just about anything, dogs have sensitive tummies and it does not take a lot for them to get upset.
Eating butter, at least in larger amounts, will definitely trigger severe bouts of profuse diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, bloating, gassiness, abdominal pain, and lethargy. In more severe cases, a trip to the vet’s office might be necessary.
It is a well-known fact that many dogs are lactose-intolerant. Lactose intolerant means they cannot properly digest the sugar found in milk products. Since butter is a milk product, lactose-intolerant dogs will not be able to properly digest it.
As a result, eating butter will result in a digestive upset manifested with diarrhea, bloating, and excessive gassiness.
Generally there are two types of butter – salted and unsalted. The salted variety is by far more dangerous as it can cause salt poisoning in dogs.
The good news is that the amount of salt in one butter stick is not enough to cause poisoning in an average-sized dog.
However, if a smaller dog eats more than one stick, salt poisoning is a possible scenario, and therefore, worth mentioning.
Risk of Pancreatitis
Eating butter can result in acute or chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a painful inflammation of the pancreas. A dog can develop the acute form if it eats a significant amount of butter at once.
On the other hand, the chronic form is associated with eating butter usually incorporated into homemade foods over a prolonged period of time.
As a condition, in addition to being painful, pancreatitis is hard to manage and sometimes requires lifelong diet tailoring.
Risk of Obesity
Dogs, same as people, need certain amounts of fat in their diets to function properly. However, too many fats will eventually lead to increased body weight and obesity. Obesity is a growing concern among dog parents due to its prevalence.
Although not considered a disease on its own, obesity is a serious risk factor for many diseases and health conditions, including diabetes, heart issues, joint problems, and certain types of cancer.
Dog Eating the Butter's Wrapper
Depending on what it is made of, the wrapper can pose a choking hazard, trigger digestive upset, or cause gastrointestinal blockage. These may seem like unbelievable courses of action, but are sadly common scenarios.
Choking is an emergency and warrants immediate first aid. The gastrointestinal upset can be self-limiting or longer-lasting, but usually a simpler outcome.
Finally, gastrointestinal blockages are potentially life-threatening conditions that require surgical correction. Surgeries for dog blockages can sometimes be complicated and they can be costly too.
Help My Dog Ate a Stick of Butter!
If your dog ate a stick of butter, you may be interested in knowing how much butter is too much. So much butter can a dog eat?
An average-sized dog (30 pounds) needs about 12 grams of fat per day. That is the amount of fat in one tablespoon of butter. So, if you deliberately gave your dog butter (only one tablespoon) you have already reached its daily fat intake need.
This means your dog must not eat any more fats for the day. Considering all dog foods contain fats, that would be impossible. Therefore, the recommended daily portion of butter for dogs is zero.
However, if a dog manages to get hold of the butter stick you bought for yourself, the good news is that butter is not toxic.
Eating an entire stick of butter warrants a trip to the vet’s office. Luckily, there are rarely any long-term consequences. However, in the short term, you will have to explain how your dog happened to feast on butter and probably spend couple of hours at the clinic.
If you caught your dog eating the butter and brought it at the vet’s right away, the vet will probably induce vomiting and prevent further issues.
However, if it has been more than four hours since the buttery indiscretion, the stick has already passed the vomiting point. In such cases, the vet will give your dog intravenous fluids and symptomatic therapy to help it overcome the digestive upset as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Is Wrapping Pills in Butter OK for Dogs?
Some dog parents are trying to exploit their dogs’ fondness of butter and use it as a cover when giving medicines. The idea of using butter to mask the pills’ presence should be discussed with your trusted vet.
Some pills must be given on an empty stomach and serving them with butter is not exactly the same as giving them on an empty stomach.
Even if there pills can be administered with food, there are far healthier covers, like for example, xylitol-free peanut butter.