Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?

Published: 01/22/2021
Invented in the 1890s, sweet and nutty peanut butter has since become popular with people across the globe, and their canine furiends! January 24th is National Peanut Butter Day, and we know your pup would love to enjoy it with you!

For many people, peanuts and peanut butter are safe foods, but can dogs eat peanut butter too? The short answer is: yes, most dogs can eat peanut butter, but not all kinds of this yummy treat are safe for them. Some peanut butters contain harmful ingredients that can dangerous, or downright lethal, so you’ll need to do some detective work to be sure you’re keeping your pup safe.

Let’s take a look at what could be hiding inside this delicious treat, and how to give your dog peanut butter safely.

What's in Peanut Butter?

The first ingredient in peanut butter is peanuts, of course! These legumes are full of protein and natural fats, as well as vitamins B1, B3, B9, E, and magnesium. But before you think peanut butter is totally healthy, remember that it often contains palm, soy, or other hydrogenated oils, sugar, or salt, any of which could be unhealthy for your pup. 

But the worst offender that could be lurking in peanut butter isn’t just unhealthy, it’s toxic! Xylitol is a sweetener that manufacturers can add to peanut butter to keep sugar levels low, but while it poses no danger to humans, it can be dangerous for dogs. When consumed, xylitol causes a quick release of insulin, which leads to a rapid decrease of blood sugar levels, which if left untreated could be fatal. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning appear within 10 to 60 minutes of eating it, and can include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, staggering, disorientation, seizures, or collapse! 

With toxic xylitol, only a dose of 1.37 grams can cause these dangerous symptoms in a 30-pound dog, while 6.8 grams could result in liver failure. The best way to keep your dog safe from dangerous xylitol is to flip the peanut butter jar around and read the ingredients. Xylitol can also be listed as xylite, xylitylglucoside, anhydroxylitol, d-xylitol, or 1,4-anhydrous-d-xylitol, so read carefully.

Finding a safe peanut butter is easy, as most companies leave xylitol out of the mix, and there are even some dog peanut butter brands made just for them. You’ll also want to find one that has lesser amounts or no oils, sugar, or salt, so look for natural brands with fewer ingredients to keep your pup’s body healthy. 

Regardless of how safe peanut butter may be, there are still some dogs who should steer clear, such as those with diabetes, pancreatitis, kidney problems, or who are overweight. If your dog has these or other health conditions, you should consult your veterinarian before giving them peanut butter. And though rare, a dog could be allergic to peanuts and peanut butter, and could experience diarrhea, vomiting, hives or swelling. Be sure to contact your veterinarian immediately if you see any signs of an allergic reaction.
How to Give Your Dog Peanut Butter

Once you’ve found a safe peanut butter for your dog, you’ll want to make sure they don’t overindulge and turn a treat into a health problem. This is easy to do with the treat rule. Any and all treats, which include dog treats and whole human foods like peanut butter or fruits, should always make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s entire daily calorie intake. Even though a little math is involved, it will be worth it in the long run to prevent obesity and other health issues. 

There are so many ways to give your dog peanut butter! You can:

  • Stuff peanut butter into fillable toys like Kongs
  • Use in puzzle toys to make the game last longer
  • Smear peanut butter on your pup’s nose for a pawrific distraction
  • Let your dog lick a spoonful of peanut butter while clipping nails, bathing, or grooming
  • Hide pills and medicine in a ball of peanut butter
  • Use dabs of peanut butter for training
  • Freeze ice cubes of peanut butter for a delicious, cool treat that’ll last!

You could also make your own homemade treats that’ll have your dog howling for more! Try one of 5 Yummy Peanut Butter Treats for Dogs or 11 Yummy Peanut Butter Recipes Your Pets Can't Resist for a happy doggo!

Share the love for peanut butter with your favorite canine pal, and make this National Peanut Butter Day pupperific!