Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?

Key takeaway

Peanut butter is a safe treat for dogs, as long as it doesn't contain added ingredients, such as sugar, salt, and artificial sweeteners like xylitol. Peanut butter offers many benefits, including vitamins, protein, and fiber. However, it’s high in calories and fat, so pet parents must feed this treat in moderation.

Dogs can eat peanut butter, and it’s a great snack you can feed them as a treat. While peanut butter is safe for dogs and even provides some nutritional benefits, always check the ingredients label. Any peanut butter containing xylitol and additional ingredients can be poisonous to dogs.

This article will discuss how the right pet-safe peanut butter can be a healthy snack for dogs, the dangers of xylitol, the different ways you can feed your dog peanut butter, and much more.

Can dogs eat peanut butter?

Is Peanut Butter Safe for Dogs?

Peanut butter is made from peanuts, so you may be wondering,” Are peanuts bad for dogs?” The short answer to that question is no; peanuts are fairly safe for dogs. However, this only applies to plain peanuts. Therefore, you should never feed salted, caramelized, or sugary peanuts to your dog.

Peanut butter is also safe for dogs when fed in moderation, plus it contains protein, healthy fats, and vitamins.1 If you’re planning on giving your dog peanut butter, it should be unsalted and contain no artificial sweeteners like xylitol.

Ultimately, the healthiest option is to look for unsalted peanut butter or peanut butter specifically developed for dogs. You can also make your own peanut butter at home. Additionally, when shopping for peanut butter, look for peanut butter that doesn’t contain added sugar.1 Organic peanut butter often contains one ingredient—peanuts–so it’s a great option.

Xylitol and peanut butter for dogs

While there are many toxic foods to avoid feeding your pet, artificial sweeteners are often forgotten. Artificial sweeteners, including xylitol, are found in gum, candy, and other sweets. Until recently, xylitol was a primary ingredient in many peanut butters.

Xylitol causes the release of insulin, which can decrease blood sugar levels and lead to hypoglycemia.1 This ingredient is also poisonous to dogs. Common signs of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, canine diarrhea, weakness, and even coughing and wheezing. Eventually, xylitol poisoning can cause coma, seizures, and death.2

If you believe your dog has consumed any amount of xylitol, take them to an emergency vet immediately. The vet will likely induce vomiting to minimize the absorption of the xylitol.

Luckily, xylitol is easy to avoid as long as pet parents read the ingredient label of peanut butters and other products they feed their dogs.1 Products containing xylitol should be kept somewhere dogs can’t get to them.

Benefits of Peanut Butter for Dogs

Now that you understand that peanut butter is safe for dogs as long as it contains pet-safe ingredients, you may be wondering, “Is peanut butter good for dogs?” Of course, just because something is non-toxic to dogs doesn’t mean it’s good for them. However, when fed in moderation, peanut butter can be a source of nutrition for your pet.

Benefits of peanut butter for dogs

Here are the benefits of peanut butter for dogs:

  • Delicious treat: Peanut butter is a great treat option for dogs that are picky eaters. If your dog won’t eat, you can add peanut butter as a food topper to entice them to eat their kibble. You can also use peanut butter in interactive toys to provide your dog with mental stimulation.
  • Source of healthy fats: Peanut butter contains natural fats that can promote a healthy coat and skin. However, healthy fats are high in calories, so it’s best to feed your dog peanut butter in moderation to prevent weight gain and obesity.1
  • Contains essential vitamins and nutrients: Peanut butter for dogs is high in protein and fiber, two essential nutrients every dog needs for optimal health. It also has many vitamins, including vitamin E that can support healthy eyes, muscles, and skin.

Of course, peanut butter isn’t the healthiest food available for dogs, so while it makes a great treat, it’s best to follow the 10% rule, which states that treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s diet.3 Feeding your dog more than their recommended daily calories can lead to obesity and health complications related to weight gain, ranging from joint problems to pancreatitis.

Can puppies have peanut butter?

Now that you’ve made it this far and understand the benefits of peanut butter for dogs, you may be wondering if it’s safe for all dogs, even puppies. Peanut butter is safe for puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs. However, it’s always best to feed a puppy a tiny amount of peanut butter at first to ensure they won’t have any adverse reactions.

Ways to Feed Peanut Butter to Dogs

Peanut butter is a great treat for dogs. However, there are many ways to feed your dog peanut butter. Of course, the peanut butter you choose should be free of additives, including artificial sweeteners, added sugar, and salt. Additionally, it’s ideal to switch between peanut butter as a treat and other snacks that may be healthier, such as celery or green beans.1

If you’re not sure how to surprise your pet with a delicious peanut butter snack, check out these options:

Puzzle feeders & toys

You can make playtime more fun and engaging by adding peanut butter. If you have a food-motivated, high-energy dog that loves peanut butter, you can keep them entertained with a toy or puzzle feeder. Many treat-dispensing toys are designed for use with peanut butter. You can take it a step further and keep your dog distracted for longer by adding peanut butter to a treat-dispensing toy and freezing it, giving your dog a fun treat on a hot summer day.

Puzzle feeders and toys are a great way to keep your energetic dog focused, which can help tire them out physically and mentally to prevent destructive behaviors.

Dog peanut butter cupcakes

Homemade treats

You can also make homemade dog treats, including cookies and baked biscuits, to share with your dog. While your dog may love them, try not to overfeed them too many treats in a day! Instead, keep peanut butter treat time to a maximum of once a day to ensure you can still provide training treats if they’re still learning their basic commands or new tricks.

Lick mats

Many dogs get anxious in the bath or when having their nails clipped. You can distract your dog from unpleasant experiences by putting a lick mat on a wall or floor. Slathering the lick matt with peanut butter can keep your dog occupied, ensuring they remain calm during these activities.

With medication

Dogs don’t like taking pills, but you can use peanut butter to administer medication. Putting peanut butter on a spoon and squishing the pill inside can help disguise the texture and taste of most tablets.

When Not to Give Dogs Peanut Butter

In general, single-ingredient peanut butter for dogs is safe. However, some dogs should not eat peanut butter.

Food allergies

Like humans, dogs can be allergic to different foods, including peanuts. Severe allergic reactions to peanuts are rare in dogs. However, they can display other symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, and itchy skin. If your dog has never had peanut butter before, it’s always best to start slow and feed them a tiny bit to see how their body reacts.

Weight management

Peanut butter is high in fat, which is not ideal for dogs that need to lose weight or are already on a weight management program. Feeding your dog even just a little bit of peanut butter can lead to obesity or cause complications in dogs with pre-existing health conditions.

Risks of feeding dogs peanut butter

It's best to consult your vet if you’re unsure how many calories your dog should eat. A vet can help you understand what to feed your dog and how to count calories to ensure peanut butter won’t cause weight gain.

When using peanut butter to give your pet medication, try not to use too much. In most cases, you only need the size of a quarter or smaller to mask the medication. Additionally, it’s typically best to avoid giving your dog peanut butter every day. Instead, consider sharing healthier snacks with them, such as carrots.

Peanut Butter for Dogs: FAQs

How much peanut butter should a dog eat?

Dogs should not eat peanut butter that will exceed 10% of their daily recommended calories. Ask a vet if you’re unsure how much peanut butter to feed your dog. Your vet can tell you how many calories your pet should consume daily, depending on their age, health, and activity levels. As a result, you can prevent overfeeding and weight gain.

What kinds of peanut butter should I not feed my dog?

There are many brands of peanut butter available at the supermarket and online. However, not all peanut butter is created equal. It’s always best to opt for organic peanut butter that uses peanuts as a single ingredient. Avoid peanut butter that contains additives, including artificial sweeteners and salt.

What should I do if my dog eats peanut butter with xylitol?

If your dog eats xylitol or any foods containing xylitol, take them to the vet immediately. Xylitol poisoning is life-threatening and must be treated as soon as possible. Unlike other toxic foods to dogs, it doesn’t require high doses of xylitol to poison a dog. If your dog has eaten any peanut butter with xylitol, a vet can induce vomiting to prevent it from causing severe damage. However, you must act fast.

Final Notes

So, can dogs eat peanut butter? Peanut butter can be a healthy treat for dogs when consumed in moderation. It’s always best to read the labels of the food you intend to feed your dog to ensure it doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients. When looking for peanut butter for dogs, look for organic products that contain peanuts as the only ingredient. You can also choose to purchase peanut butter developed for dogs. While peanut butter is safe, not all dogs should eat peanut butter because it’s high in calories and fat. It’s always best to check with your vet before feeding your dog a new food to ensure it’s safe and won’t cause weight gain.

Not sure how many calories your dog should be eating? While you know the 10% rule states your dog’s treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of their diet, you may not know what 10% of their diet looks like. Talk to a Dutch-affiliated vet today to learn how many calories your dog should consume to stay healthy and strong. Dutch is simplifying the vet experience by offering telemedicine for pets that can help them stay healthy in their own home while providing pet parents peace of mind.

References

  1. Burke, Anna. “Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 3 Apr. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-peanut-butter/.

  2. “Paws off Xylitol; It's Dangerous for Dogs.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/paws-xylitol-its-dangerous-dogs.

  3. Burke, Anna. “How Many Treats to Give a Dog a Day.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 30 Aug. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/how-many-treats-can-dog-have/.