Can Dogs Eat Butter?

Victoria Lynn Arnold
By Victoria Lynn Arnold. Reviewed by Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP on Nov. 15, 2022
dog looking up at people eating

NOTE: Always check with your veterinarian before giving your dog any new foods, especially “people foods.” What might be okay for one dog might not be good for yours, depending on multiple factors such as their age, health history, health conditions, and diet. Dogs on prescription diets should not be fed any food or treats outside the diet.

You may be worried if your dog snatched some butter from the counter or ate some that fell on the floor.

While dogs should not eat butter because it is very unhealthy for them, it’s not toxic to them. If your dog just ate a little butter, it isn’t the end of the world, but it will probably give your dog an upset stomach. 

However, there are many reasons why you should not intentionally feed butter to your dog. It can seriously hurt their organs and overall health, especially over time. Here are some answers to how butter and buttery foods affect dogs. 

Is Butter Bad for Dogs?

Butter isn’t toxic to dogs, but it is bad for them. Eating treats and snacks that contain butter can hurt your dog’s health and cause serious problems like pancreatitis

Certain fats and oils, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, can help your dog’s skin and coat health. However, butter is not one of these healthy fats. 

Butter has a high saturated fat content and does not provide much nutritional value to your dog. In addition to the risk of pancreatitis, it also increases your dog’s chances of becoming obese, which can lead to hip and joint problems. 

Dogs can also be lactose-intolerant, just like humans. Your dog may only get an upset stomach from the fat content, or they may get hit twice as hard because of their lactose intolerance.

So it’s important that you not share your buttery snack with your dog—especially baked goods that contain a lot of butter. 

Risks of Salted vs. Unsalted Butter

Although dogs shouldn’t eat any butter, salted butter is worse for your dog than unsalted. Too much salt can make dogs dehydrated, which can lead to other issues.

If your dog has ingested salt or large amounts of salted butter, contact your veterinarian immediately

Can Dogs Eat Buttered Popcorn?

Unbuttered, unsalted popcorn without any unpopped kernels is safe for your dog. But buttery popcorn gives them all the same health problems from butter that are listed above. 

Plus, if there’s salt or any other ingredients on the popcorn, it could be toxic for your dog. Unpopped kernels could also damage their teeth, become a choking hazard, or cause an intestinal blockage.

Can Dogs Eat Margarine?

Butter is a dairy product made from churning cream. But margarine is made from a variety of oils to imitate butter. Although it’s not dairy-based, it can contain some dairy in the form of whey or lactose. 

And even though there aren’t any ingredients in margarine that are toxic to dogs, it does contain a lot of additives and preservatives that aren’t healthy for them. The vegetable oil found in margarine isn’t great for dogs in large amounts either. 

It’s best to just avoid giving butter to your dog altogether. 

If your dog ate just a little bit, they may get an upset stomach. But if they accidentally ate a whole tub of margarine, that could make them quite sick, so you should contact your veterinarian immediately

Can Dogs Eat Buttered Bread?

Plain white or wheat bread is safe for dogs to eat, in moderation, but feeding bread to your dog as a snack doesn’t offer much nutrition. Bread is also full of carbs, which could lead to obesity. 

Buttered bread shouldn’t be given to your dog as a treat for the same reasons. A small piece may give them temporary stomach issues. However, giving your dog a slice of bread with butter on it is very unhealthy, and over time, it could cause the numerous health issues listed above. 

What To Do if Your Dog Ate Butter

If your dog just ate a tiny amount of butter or ate something non-toxic to dogs that had a little butter on it, they will probably be fine. Your pup may endure some mild stomach issues from the high fat content in the butter, or because they are lactose- intolerant. 

But if your dog ate more butter—even a tablespoon or two for small dogs, or more for large dogs—it could cause more severe stomach issues as well as pancreatitis. The following symptoms may be seen for up to four days after ingestion:

Just one tablespoon of butter contains 12 grams of fat, the total amount of fat that a 30-pound dog should be eating per day. Since your dog already gets all the healthy fats they need from their well-balanced dog food diet, even just a little bit of butter is too much fat for your pup to eat. 

The amount of butter that can cause serious problems for your dog depends on their size. If you have any concerns, contact your veterinarian and watch your dog closely for the symptoms listed above. 

References

  1. Pet Poison Helpline. “Is table food poisonous for dogs?” September 2011.
  2. ‌Pet Poison Helpline. “Salt.

Featured Image: iStock/supersizer

References


Victoria Lynn Arnold

WRITTEN BY

Victoria Lynn Arnold

Freelance Writer


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