Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?
There's no question that dogs love the peanut butter, but you may have wondered if it's actually good (or bad) for them. Although it's an ingredient in a lot of commercial dog treats, the answer may surprise you. Here's the lowdown on peanut butter for dogs, as well as some safe alternative human foods dogs can eat.
Xylitol & Other Cautions About Peanut Butter
Many brands of peanut butter contain added ingredients that are unhealthy and even harmful for dogs. Some peanut butters include an artificial sweetener called xylitol, which is extremely toxic to pets.
Often, peanut butter contains added sugar that can contribute to weight gain. Peanut butter also typically contains added salt that makes it high in sodium, and certain fats, such as palm oil. Pet parents should check with their veterinarian to ensure that peanut butter is acceptable for their pet, especially those pets with health conditions.
Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?
While there are reasons to be cautious about feeding this sticky treat to your dog, the news isn't all bad. Natural peanut butter is a great source of protein, B and E vitamins, and healthy monounsaturated fats, says the AKC. There are a lot of commercial treats with peanut butter that can be fun for your pet. But as with all treats, they should be limited to 10% of daily calories so as not to upset nutritional balance. If your dog is crazy about peanut butter, they can eat it in moderation as long as you're careful to check the ingredients and run it by your veterinarian first. Look for all-natural, unsalted peanut butter that lists peanuts as the only ingredient.
You could also make peanut butter at home by simply grinding peanuts in a food processor. If you choose to go this route, be sure to source your peanuts from a reputable source. Peanuts found in nature can sometimes have a fungus on them called Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, the fungus that produces the aflatoxins (cancer producing toxins) says The National Cancer Institute. This is why in the U.S. the FDA inspects foods like peanuts and peanut butter for human consumption to reduce the risk for people.
Remember that too much of a good thing isn't good for your pup. Between the high fat and calorie content and the threat of aflatoxins, it's best to limit even natural or homemade peanut butter to an occasional treat.
Peanut Allergies in Dogs
Although it's rare, some dogs can develop peanut allergies. While anaphylactic shock and difficulty breathing can occur in dogs with peanut allergies, this type of reaction is most commonly found as a result of being bitten or stung by an insect or from a reaction to medication. Sometimes allergies will result in facial swelling or skin reactions. If you notice these symptoms after giving peanut butter to your dog, stop feeding them peanut butter immediately and consult your vet, who can help determine whether your dog is allergic to peanuts or something else. This is also why it is always a good idea to consult your vet before feeding your dog anything. Since peanut allergies can be serious in children and adults, those individuals need to be careful to avoid contact with pets that may have consumed peanut butter. The risk that peanut residue can end up on their fur is also another real risk for people with severe peanut allergies.
Ways to Treat Your Pooch With Peanut Butter
Here are a few fun ways to give your dog one of the yummiest human foods dogs can eat:
- Make medication fun: If your dog hates taking medication, hide pills in natural peanut butter to make sure they go down right.
- Sweeten entertainment: Use peanut butter to fill a treat toy, and let your pooch lick to their heart's content.
Can dogs eat peanut butter? As long as peanuts are the only ingredient, your peanut butter-loving pooch doesn't have to forgo it entirely. Alternating the occasional lick of peanut butter with healthy treats will keep them satisfied.
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.