Butter has been a topic of hot debate in human nutrition for years, with scientists and nutritionists seemingly unable to agree whether it’s entirely good for you or bad for you.
While the answer is likely somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, one thing is for certain: butter is a staple ingredient in many classic recipes. And if you love sharing your meals with your dog, you may be wondering whether it’s a good idea to feed them meals prepared with butter.
In short: dogs CAN technically eat butter, as it’s not toxic to them. However, it’s not a good food option for your pooch.
For the fuller answer, read on to discover guidelines for how much butter your dog can safely eat, as well as potential dangers of butter consumption — and why it may not be a great idea to feed it to your dog on a regular basis.
Butter Nutrition and Fun Facts
Made from the fat and protein components of milk or cream, butter is semi-solid at room temperature and contains up to 80% butterfat. It’s a staple ingredient in many baked goods, sauces, and sautés, and has been produced for hundreds of years by every society that raises cattle.
Originally made by churning milk or cream for extended periods of time, butter was once a slightly fermented product that could be made over the course of several days. Modern methods employ pasteurization to remove pathogenic bacteria and microbes, and often add salt as both a seasoning and preservative.
Butter’s caloric load is composed of 99% fat, with a scant 1% of protein. In a 100-gram serving, nearly 50 grams will be saturated fats, which are generally considered to be unhealthy if consumed in large quantities.
Health Benefits of Butter for Dogs
Composed almost entirely of fat, butter offers essentially no health benefits for dogs. Some naturally cultured butters are higher in Vitamin A and Vitamin B12, but these nutrients are easily found in other, healthier foods for your dog.
Can Butter Be Bad for Dogs?
In anything more than exceedingly small amounts, butter will almost definitely be harmful to your dog. Its high caloric density makes it an easy contributor to weight gain and canine obesity, and most store-bought butter contains almost nothing in the way of vitamins or minerals.
In addition, most dogs are lactose intolerant — meaning that they are unable to properly digest milk products, including butter. If your dog eats butter without your permission, monitor them closely for signs of indigestion, bloating, gas, or diarrhea; if these are severe, you should take your dog to the vet immediately.
How Much Butter Can Your Dog Eat?
Despite its potential health risks, many dogs are naturally attracted to the flavor and richness of butter. Always keep butter covered and out of reach of your dog, as more mischievous dogs have been known to eat from whole butter sticks left on the breakfast table.
As we’ve mentioned, butter is very high in fat content, packing 12 grams of fat into one tablespoon! A medium-sized dog that weighs around 30 pounds needs just about the same grams of fat per day to maintain a healthy diet. This means offering up just a small slather of butter would easily set your pup over the edge in terms of daily fat content. That’s why butter is best left as an occasional, and very carefully portioned treat.
Types of Butter That Your Dog Can Eat
Look on the cooler shelves of most grocery stores, and you’ll find two main varieties of butter: salted, and unsalted. Salted butter adds far too much sodium to your dog’s diet, making unsalted butter a much safer option for your pooch.
When it’s available, “natural” cultured butter has a larger amount of more vitamins and minerals, making it a better choice for you and your dog’s health.
Final Thoughts on Feeding Butter to Your Dog
Butter provides no essential nutrients for your dog and can seriously irritate their digestive system as well as predispose them to weight gain. It’s not a good choice to feed your dog regularly but will not pose any immediate danger to their health if eaten. If you’re set on cooking meals for yourself and your dog together, consider switching to a healthier oil such as extra virgin olive oil.
Featured image credit: rodeopix, Pixabay
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.