If your four-legged best friend magically appears every time you open a jar of peanut butter – you are not alone. Peanut butter is a staple in many households and a popular canine and pet parent snack.
Peanut butter is packed with protein, healthy fats, biotin niacin, folate, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, and it can support skin and coat health, brain health, heart health, and good circulation. However, not all peanut butters are created equal, and some contain ingredients that can be deadly to dogs. Always consult your veterinarian before offering them any new food or treats, especially human foods like peanut butter. Once you get the OK to incorporate peanut butter into your dog’s diet, choosing the healthiest and dog-safe option is critical to prevent your dog from becoming sick.
Benefits and Uses of Dog-Safe Peanut Butter
Dog-safe peanut butter is a convenient snack that is generally safe for healthy dogs to consume in moderation. Peanut butter contains protein and various nutrients, making it a healthy treat in small quantities. Although treats are an essential part of bonding with your pup, they should not comprise more than 10% of their calories to prevent weight gain or obesity.
Peanut butter can also be used in a variety of ways, including :
- Rewards – Peanut butter can be offered on a spoon for good doggy manners, like staying or sitting.
- Motivation – Provide peanut butter as a high-value treat during training sessions.
- Bonding – A peanut butter treat can be used as a unique way to strengthen your bond.
- Brain health – Placing a small amount of peanut butter in a puzzle toy, kong, or on a lick mat can help stimulate your pup’s mental acuity.
- Medication administration – Many dogs are skilled at avoiding medications, so consider using peanut butter to conceal the bitter medication taste.
Choosing a Dog-Safe Peanut Butter
Many peanut butters contain added ingredients or artificial sweeteners that are dangerous or toxic to dogs. Plain, unsalted peanut butter, like Spread the Love, is the safest peanut butter type to feed your pup. Try to feed your dog only natural peanut butter that contains only dry roasted peanuts and is free of other artificial ingredients, preservatives, or added sugars.
Before offering your dog a peanut butter treat, always check the ingredient list to ensure it contains no dangerous additives, including:
- Sodium – While a small amount of salt is not harmful, too much added salt can exacerbate certain illnesses, including kidney disease, heart disease, or high blood pressure. Salt is also toxic to all dogs when consumed in large amounts.
- Xylitol – This common sugar substitute is found in many nut butters or other sugar-free foods. Avoid peanut butter that has ingredients labeled as natural sweeteners, sugar alcohol, D-xylitol, xylite, anhydroxylitol, xylitylglucoside, 1,4, anhydro-D-X-xylitol, wood sugar, birch bark extract, or birch sugar. Small amounts of xylitol can cause dangerous hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), liver failure, or death in dogs.
- Chocolate or other added ingredients – Many peanut butters contain added sweeteners, including chocolate, which is also dog-toxic, or jelly, which is high in sugar. Chocolate ingestion can lead to gastrointestinal (GI) problems, hyperactivity, or seizures in some cases.
When to Avoid Peanut Butter for Dogs
Too much of a good thing can be dangerous for your pup, so only give your dog a small amount of peanut butter as an occasional treat. Too much peanut butter can lead to GI problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy. Additionally, peanut butter is high in fat, so excess consumption can lead to pancreatitis, which is painful and potentially fatal in dogs.
For some, dog-friendly peanut butter should be avoided altogether, especially in dogs who have certain underlying health issues, including:
- Kidney and heart disease – Dogs diagnosed with heart or kidney problems should not eat peanut butter or treats, as most contain some sodium, which can exacerbate their illness.
- Obesity – More than 50% of U.S. dogs are overweight or obese. These dogs have an increased risk for many underlying health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. The high calorie and fat content of peanut butter can inhibit weight loss.
- Food sensitivity or intolerances – Dogs on veterinary-prescribed diets for conditions such as food allergies or irritable bowel disease should not be fed peanut butter or other treats without veterinary approval.
Can Dogs Have Peanut Allergies?
Peanut allergies are not uncommon in people, and it’s estimated that more than 25% of children with food allergies are allergic to peanuts. Pet owners may be concerned if their furry friend is also at risk for peanut-related allergies. While peanut butter allergies are rare in dogs, adverse reactions can occur.
Bring your dog for immediate veterinary care if they show any of the following peanut allergy signs, including:
- Difficulty or labored breathing
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Skin swelling
- Red or itchy skin
How to Safely Give Your Dog Peanut Butter
Moderation is vital when giving your dog a peanut butter treat. The high calories and fat can cause illness in dogs, including those who do not have underlying health issues or allergies. Always consult your veterinarian before offering your pup any new food to ensure it’s safe. Give a small amount of peanut butter to gauge their tolerance and monitor closely for adverse reactions requiring veterinary care.
Dogs can safely eat both creamy and crunchy peanut butter. However, if you have a small dog or your pup is prone to choking on their food, creamy peanut butter is likely the safest option to prevent choking on the small pieces of peanuts.
Dog-safe peanut butter can be incorporated into your dog’s treat rotation in a variety of ways, including:
- Homemade dog biscuits
- Adding a teaspoon on their kibble or dog food for a special mealtime treat
- Placing a small amount on dog-safe vegetables, like bell peppers
Peanut butter can be an excellent reward for your furry best friend. Whenever possible, opt for an organic peanut butter that contains only natural ingredients and is xylitol-free to prevent any adverse reactions or illness. Like all dog treats, moderation ensures your pup remains healthy throughout life.For more tips on your pet’s health, check out the Native Pet blog.