Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter? What You Need to Know
Who doesn’t love peanut butter? It’s only natural that you should want to share your favorite snack with your pooch but you need to be careful. Not all human food is good for dogs and some can be actually dangerous. So, before you let your dog share your meal, here’s what you need to know about dogs and peanut butter.
Is Peanut Butter Safe For Dogs to Eat?
On the whole, yes, it is safe to give your dog peanut butter. It is a good source of protein and most dogs love the taste. However, there is one very important exception to this rule. If the peanut butter contains an ingredient called xylitol, it is definitely not safe.
Before giving peanut butter to your dog you must make sure you check the label first to be completely certain that it is safe. If xylitol is included in the ingredients list, you must not feed this to your pet at all. Xylitol is a sugar- replacement sweetener that is becoming increasingly common to keep the sugar content of the product low. It does not cause any harms to humans and is used widely in human food. However, xylitol is extremely dangerous if given to dogs, even though perfectly safe for us. As there is little awareness of this sweetener among dog owners, sadly it poisons thousands of dogs each year. Xylitol is so harmful to dogs as it can cause hypoglycemia, which is a rapid drop in blood sugar, this then leads to disorientation and even seizures. Dogs can die as a result.
You will know how toxic dark chocolate is for dogs, xylitol is 22 times more toxic so even just the smallest quantity of peanut butter containing this ingredient is very dangerous. Remember that making your own home-made treats with peanut butter is also hazardous. If you are sharing any of your own food that contains peanut butter with your dog, check the label first. If your dog accidentally ingests peanut butter containing this ingredient, get them to a vet straight away.
The good news is that provided the peanut butter does not contain xylitol, the type of peanut butter does not matter. It can be smooth or crunchy, just go with what your pooch loves the most and what you have in your kitchen cupboard.
Ways Your Dog Can Enjoy Peanut Butter
There are ways that you can usefully incorporate peanut butter into your dog’s diet but watch out for the quantity that you give them. You must be careful with the amount of peanut butter that you are giving your dog as too much can have painful consequences. The exact amount that is healthy to give to your dog varies between breeds and even between individual dogs. As long as you keep the amount of peanut butter below 10% of their total daily calorie intake, your dog will remain healthy (you can check the calorie count on the label of the peanut butter as it varies between brands). If you exceed this percentage you are at risk of causing harm to your dog. Potential health problems caused by over-indulgence in peanut butter include pancreatitis as well as obesity and all the associated health problems that it brings.
Here are some of the main ways that peanut can be safely given to dogs.
- Training your dog: When used effectively, peanut butter can be a useful tool to help train your dog. Small amounts can be given to your dog as a reward for good behavior or completing a command that you have asked. As they get to know that by behaving well and accepting commands they can earn themselves a small treat they are more likely to do it again the next time!
- Soothing during times of stress: Peanut butter can be used to help comfort your dog when they are nervous or experiencing something they don’t enjoy such as during a storm. The tasty treat will help to keep them distracted from the thing that is making them anxious.
- Entertaining your dog: Most dogs are obsessed with peanut butter so it can be used to keep your dog entertained. It can help with separation anxiety. Some owners find that if they smear some inside a chew toy such as a Kong, it takes the dog’s mind off the fact that they are alone. In fact, they may not even notice that you have gone!
- Administering medication: Do you have trouble getting your pooch to take their pills? Hide them in some peanut butter and they will disappear in no time!
- Distraction: Do you need something to keep your pooch amused and distracted whilst you are running their bath or trimming their nails? Peanut butter could be just what you are looking for. It ca cut don the stress levels of tricky procedures.
Dogs That Shouldn’t Be Eating Peanut Butter
Even though peanut butter can be useful, there are some cases where peanut butter shouldn’t be used. As peanut butter contains a high percentage of fat it shouldn’t be given to obese dogs who are on specialized diets. However, do not despair, there are many healthy alternatives that can be used in its place. These include cooked chicken and vegetables which have a much lower calorie content. These won’t cause any further problems for your dog.
Also, if your pet has been advised that a specific diet is needed to keep them healthy it is best not to interfere with this and to stay clear of peanut butter. If you own a Miniature Schnauzers or Yorkshire Terrier you need to be aware that these breeds are at a higher risk of developing pancreatitis, and you should try to avoid peanut butter completely.
Lastly, there is a high salt content found in peanut butter that means it is inappropriate to be given to dogs with kidney problems as this can worsen the issue. If you are at all unsure, always talk to your vet and get the best advice for your particular dog.
Can Dogs Be Allergic Peanuts?
The final group of dogs that should not eat peanut butter are those that are allergic to peanuts. We all know that many humans suffer from peanut allergies and that it can be life-threatening in some circumstances. There is little evidence to suggest that peanut allergies are common in dogs but that does not mean that it can never happen.
Therefore, as a dog Mom or Dad, you need to be vigilant. If you notice some adverse reactions in your dog after the first or second time that you have given them peanut butter, or even any other type of nut butter, it is time to talk to your vet.
Also, it makes sense to proceed cautiously the first few times you let your pooch have this tasty snack. Start off by giving them just a tiny amount on the tip of your finger. Then keep an eye on them for an hour or so. If all goes well, try it again the next day. If there is still no reaction, then you can start to give them a little bit more but remember not to overdo it because it is packed with calories.
If there are signs of an acute allergic reaction, you need to get veterinary help right away. The symptoms of an acute allergic reaction in dogs are fairly easy to spot. They will come out in hives which are small areas of swelling all over their body. They will also develop swelling around their eyes and possibly around their muzzle. You may notice that they start to breathe rapidly or that they are having problems breathing at all. Your dog may also vomit, have sudden diarrhea and could even collapse.
Sometimes, a dog can develop a less serious but long-term allergic reaction to something that they are eating. If this is the case, your dog is more likely to get some recurrent ear infections and to have a thin and poor looking coat. They may suffer from chronic itchiness and you may notice they have hotspots of inflammation and irritation. They may also chew their paws and have problems with impacted anal glands. Speak to your vet about how you can find out what is causing the problem.
The Last Word on Peanut Butter and Dogs…
So, the overall verdict is that peanut butter can be a very useful and tasty treat for dogs and that most of them love it. However, you must be very careful about looking at the ingredients lists. Also, there are some dogs that you should not feed peanut butter at all.