Is butter bad for dogs? Yes, it is. Occasionally, your dog might accidentally eat butter, lard, and other types of saturated fats and it’s okay, but it still should be avoided since they are bad for your dog over the long term.
Why Is Butter Bad for Dogs?
Butter is a dairy product and it’s made mostly from saturated fats which offer no benefit for dogs. Saturated fat is a fat found primarily in animal sources (chicken, beef, lamb). It is true that dogs need fat since fat provides them with the necessary energy to support their activities. However, eating too much fat can cause an increase in blood cholesterol concentrations in dogs.
Generally, a 30-pound adult dog needs just 14 grams of fat per day and he can get these 14 grams of fat just from his regular dog food. Meanwhile, true butter contains 12g of fat per 1 tablespoon. Having just one tablespoon of butter along with his daily meals would send your dog past over his daily limit and may give some health problems to your dog such as high cholesterol.
Short-Term Effects from Eating Too Much Fat
Dogs with a sensitive stomach might develop short-term side effects when they eat foods high in fat. The effects include excessive gas, stomachache, diarrhea, and constipation. (1)
Cholesterol Problem in Dogs
Dogs can have increased fat problems in their blood called hyperlipidemia that comes in the form of both triglycerides and cholesterol. Some websites say that cholesterol problem is not a big deal for dogs. Well, it is true that it is less common for dogs to suffer from arteriosclerosis, an accumulation of cholesterol inside the arteries which leads to a heart attack or stroke.
But still, it can become a serious problem for them. Some dogs with hyperlipidemia can experience a myriad of health problems ranging from mild abdominal discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea to pancreatitis, which can be a life-threatening health problem.
How Hyperlipidemia is Diagnosed?
After a meal, dogs will experience a surge of an increased fat level (in both cholesterol and triglycerides level) in blood, then the fat returns to normal levels in approximately 7 to 12 hours. To diagnose hyperlipidemia, a vet may require your dog to fast for 12 to 15 hours, which is important to avoid confusing normal post-meal increase with hyperlipidemia.
Then after a sufficient period of fast, a blood level is measured again. If the value remains high then your dog is diagnosed with hyperlipidemia. Signs of hyperlipidemia include vomiting/diarrhea, abdominal pain, cloudy eyes, decreased appetite, and lethargy.
2 Types of Hyperlipidemia
There are two types of hyperlipidemia: primary and secondary. The first type of hyperlipidemia has no underlying cause identified and usually is inherited. Some breeds that are predisposed to the first type of hyperlipidemia are Miniature Schnauzers, Miniature Poodles, Beagles (they are predisposed to high triglycerides) and Collies, and Shetland Sheepdogs (which are predisposed to high cholesterol without high triglycerides).
The second type of hyperlipidemia is not a breed-specific and can be caused by many diseases such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism, pancreatitis, and obesity.
1. Diabetes can lower good cholesterol levels in the blood and raise triglycerides and bad cholesterol levels.
2. Hypothyroidism. According to the study, even mildly low thyroid hormone levels can put dogs at a greater risk of high cholesterol.
3. Hyperadrenocorticism which is an overactive adrenal gland resulting from an excess of cortisol can also put dogs at a greater risk of high cholesterol.
4. Pancreatitis or high inflammation of the pancreas is a disease resulting from a high level of triglycerides (more on this later).
5. Obesity makes dogs more likely to get high cholesterol.
The Treatment of Hyperlipidemia
Hyperlipidemia treatment revolves around feeding a low fat, high fiber diet and giving some medications. Most often a low fat, high fiber diet is enough to resolve many cases of hyperlipidemia. When a low fat, high fiber diet is not enough, vets might prescribe the same medications used to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in humans such as niacin, gemfibrozil, and omega-3 fatty acids. Consult with your vet first before giving any of these drugs.
Pancreatitis Problem for Dogs with High Cholesterol Problem
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. This condition happens when the digestive enzymes, which are responsible to break down food is released too fast before the food reaches the small intestine, which causes inflammation to the pancreas and the other surrounding tissue and organs.
Signs of pancreatitis in dogs include:
- loss of appetite.
- extreme weakness.
- hunched back.
- abdominal pain.
- a distended abdomen.
This condition can happen suddenly due to any of the signs listed above or it could develop slowly. Think of pancreatitis as a similar condition just like when you eat a bunch of fatty foods and experience bloating and get sluggish afterward.
Even though pancreatitis can be caused by multiple factors, there is one certain factor that contributes to pancreatitis and that is “eating too much fat”. And butter is one of the foods which has a high-fat content. Another reason why butter is bad for dogs.
To prevent pancreatitis, you need to monitor carefully your dog’s daily fat intake and remove any foods with too much fat content. Remember 14 grams of fat per day is enough for most adult dogs. Once your dog has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, he needs to go on a low-fat diet for the rest of his life to prevent a relapse.
If Butter is Bad for Dogs, What About Margarine?
Margarine is even worse than butter. These fax-butter spreads, which are just as high in fat and cholesterol as butter, contain tons of harmful chemicals and preservatives.
Other Foods That Are Bads for Dogs
There are a few other foods that are bad for your dog:
- Avocado. Too much avocado can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
- Xylitol can be found in candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and some sweetened foods. Too much of it can cause your dog’s blood sugar level to drop and might also cause liver failure.
- Grapes and Raisin can cause kidney failure. Even a small amount of it can make dogs vomiting over and over again.
- Milk and other dairy products can cause diarrhea and other digestive problems.
- Chocolate especially dark chocolate can make dogs vomit and have diarrhea. It can also cause heart problems, tremors, seizures, and even death.
- Raw eggs. Your dog might get food poisoning from bacteria like salmonella or E.Coli.
- Raw meat and fish. In spite of the popularity of the raw diet, raw meat and fish can have bacteria and parasites that cause food poisoning.
- Sugary food and drinks. Too much sugar can make your dog overweight and diabetes.
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