Can dogs eat peanut butter?

Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?
The Essential Guide

Peanut butter is a classic doggie treat, but should dogs eat peanut butter?

This is a high-fat, low-fibre spread, and might not be the wisest choice for your furry friend. No worries, our experts gathered everything we know about peanut butter so you can make an informed choice.


Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?

It depends on the peanut butter. Dogs can eat peanut butter that’s made 100% from peanuts, with zero additives. In that case, peanut butter is safe and even healthy for your dog when consumed in small amounts. However, there are some safety concerns about some common additives used to flavour it, including artificial sweeteners, salt, and even palm oil.

dog licks peanut butter off spoon

What You Need About Peanut Butter For Dogs

Considering plain peanuts -and peanut butter- is safe for dogs, should they eat any peanut butter? Not really. Many brands add other ingredients that can actually make this spread unhealthy and downright dangerous for dogs. Here’s what you should know about it:

Peanut butter with xylitol is toxic to dogs

Xylitol is a sugar substitute often found in sugar-free products. It’s common in products like chewing gum, toothpaste, and baked goods. Even if xylitol is safe for people, it’s toxic to dogs. Check the label before buying peanut butter for your dog, if it states xylitol, don’t feed it to them.

How does xylitol affect your dog?

Xylitol causes a rapid release of insulin in dogs. In turn, this causes an equally fast decrease in blood sugar levels, called hypoglycaemia. This condition can occur as quickly as 10-to-60 minutes after eating xylitol. For small, old or young dogs, hypoglycaemia can be life-threatening if left untreated.

On top of low sugar levels, some dogs develop heightened liver enzymes, which show liver damage, a few hours after eating this compound.

To avoid xylitol poisoning, check the label and avoid peanut butter that have it. It’s also a good idea to keep products with this compound off the reach of your dog. If your dog ate something containing xylitol, keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  • Weak legs
  • Collapse
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

If you suspect hypoglycaemia, talk to your vet right away so they can monitor your pup.

Too much peanut butter can be harmful

Even if you buy a xylitol-free peanut butter, keep in mind that this spread can be high in salt. Remember, any high-sodium food can be problematic for dogs. Because of it, the healthiest option is either unsalted or homemade peanut butter. The homemade versions don’t have extra sugar and other additives that might be hard on your dog’s kidneys. Of course, keep in mind peanut butter is also very high in fats, so eating it too frequently can lead to obesity and complications like pancreatitis.

Dogs Can Be Allergic to peanuts

If your dog has already tried peanuts or peanut butter, this is likely not a concern. However, some pups can be allergic, and the adverse reactions tend to be very serious. If your dog has shown vomiting, diarrhoea, itching, rashes or hair loss after eating peanut butter or other nuts, there’s a good chance they are allergic. Don’t give any more peanut butter to your dog and call your vet. They’ll be able to do an allergy test to make sure.


How To Feed Peanut Butter To Dogs

Considering this is a high-fat treat, you shouldn’t give peanut butter on a daily basis or in large quantities. When in doubt, call your vet. They’ll have a better idea of the appropriate amount according to your dog’s size and needs. This is especially important if your dog is overweight, or at risk of diabetes, heart conditions, kidney issues or pancreatitis.

As a rule of thumb, use the 10% rule. This means treats should only make up 10% of your dog’s calories. Considering 2 tablespoons of peanut butter are around 200 calories, calculate your dog’s caloric needs and adjust accordingly. Of course, it’s a good idea to alternate with other healthier treats.

If your dog really loves peanut butter, use it to your advantage. Here are a few great ways to use it:

  • Sneak Medication: place pills, or bitter medication in the peanut butter. Since it’s so sticky and has an intense flavour, your dog will be less likely to notice they’re eating medicine.
  • As a reward: training is easier when you use something your dog really likes. It can be useful to teach your pup new tricks or make bath time easier.
  • Exercise their brain: for dogs that are highly food-motivated, peanut butter is great when spread on a puzzle feeder toy. These games will keep your dog entertained on their own.

PRO TIP: Be aware of products that specifically state they are sugar-free. It may be a clue that the peanut butter is sweetened with xylitol.

PRO TIP: If your dog has eaten a ton of eaten xylitol, call your vet immediately

PRO TIP: Most peanut butter is safe for dogs to eat in moderation


Final Thoughts

Every dog is different, so be mindful of how peanut butter affects your specifically. In general, dogs can eat peanut butter as long as it is in moderation and without xylitol. On the other hand, if you see hypoglycaemia signs in your dog, call your vet. Overall, keep in mind your dog’s health is your responsibility, and it can be hard to keep it in check if you feed them lots of peanut butter!

Want to learn more about what types of food dogs can and can't eat? Check out our below guides:

References
  1. Freeman, L. M., et al (2003). Evaluation of dietary patterns in dogs with cardiac disease. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 223(9), 1301-1305. https://europepmc.org/article/med/14621217  
  2. Bates, N. (2019). Xylitol toxicosis in dogs. Companion Animal, 24(4), 182-187. https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/coan.2019.24.4.182
  3. B Hammerberg, et al (2005) Spontaneous, IgE-associated food allergy in dogs as a model of human peanut allergy. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. https://search.proquest.com/openview/d68d142bd91cccc09c668316a9ec040b/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=105664
Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is a dog lover & anthropologist. She enjoys writing content that will actually help people understand their dogs better. Eloisa is able to use her expertise to write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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