Who doesn't love peanut butter? It's a popular healthy treat among people, but can dogs eat peanut butter just as we can, and is peanut butter for dogs safe to consume? What are the benefits of feeding peanut butter to dogs, and are there any side effects? Let's take a closer look.
If you've been wondering, “can I give my dog peanut butter,” the answer is YES – dogs can eat peanut butter and it's not toxic to dogs. However, dogs can have peanut butter, like with most other human treats, you need to be very careful.
Dogs really enjoy peanut butter and it may be one of their favorite treats. In the past it was easy to just scoop some natural peanut butter and let them have it. Today, with so many different brands of peanut butter, you should approach it with caution.
In fact, there are many homemade dog food recipes including peanut butter.
Here's a list of great recipes with videos for dog treats and foods using peanut butter:
- Pumpkin Peanut Butter Homemade Dog Treats
- Limited Ingredient Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Treat Recipe
- Peanut Butter and Banana Cookies for Dogs
- Bacon and Peanut Butter Dog Biscuit Treats
- Peanut Butter and Banana Frozen Dog Treats
- Peanut Butter Dog Treats
- Peanut Butter and Oat Dog Biscuits
The above recipes all include natural peanut butter without any additives, and they are very popular with dogs (watch the videos for proof). They're also healthy and nutritious for your canine.
This is what peanut butter looks like:
Natural peanut butter is actually healthy for dogs, and it's rich in many important antioxidants (Ferguson et al. 2005) as well as common vitamins and minerals:
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
However, be aware that peanut butter is also high in calories. Usually, just a spoon of peanut butter will be enough for the dog as an occasional treat.
For humans, studies have even shown many health benefits:
- It may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer (1)
- It reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes (2)
- It lowers levels of bad cholesterol (3)
That said, there are things to watch out for if you want to give peanut butter to dogs.
Before you give peanut butter to your dog, take a look at the labels.
It has become commonplace to put artificial sweeteners in peanut butter. This makes it more appealing to those watching their sugar intake. Peanut butter can use almost any artificial sweetener, but it usually adds Xylitol. This is poison to dogs and cats.
ALSO READ: Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener popular in candy, gum and peanut butter.
Xylitol, and Xanthan gum, are the same thing as far as chemical compositions go. Both are extremely poisonous to your pet, which has been confirmed in clinical trials (Piscitelli et al. 2010). Xylitol can cause death in a short amount of time if ingested.
The symptoms after a dog consumes Xylitol can come on as soon as 15 minutes (most prevalent when consuming peanut butter). There are sugar free gums that delay these symptoms for up to 12 hours.
Some of the common symptoms of Xylitol poisoning in dogs include:
- Loss of Coordination
Widespread bleeding in the dog through intestines, stomach or abdomen can occur. Your dog may have dark red splotches on his gums along with pinprick hemorrhages. Liver failure can occur when the dog's blood sugar gets too low. A small square of sugar free gum, or small spoon of peanut butter containing Xylitol will produce toxicity in dogs depending on your dog’s body weight.
The reason Xylitol is toxic to dogs is because it causes a rapid discharge of insulin into the dog’s blood stream. This results in a sudden drop of blood glucose, at which point the above symptoms will start to show up.
Diagnosing Xylitol toxicity in dogs
To diagnose Xylitol toxicity in dogs, you'll need to get your pet to the vet. The dog will have numerous blood tests.
The vet will run a complete blood count that includes a chemical blood profile and a complete blood count. Next it will be a urinalysis. While examining your dog the vet will ask you about the symptoms you've observed, making sure that he knows what he is looking for. Your dog may also have bleeding disorders. Coagulation profiles and fibrinogen testing will be done to confirm the suspicions.
Treatment for Xylitol toxicity in dogs
If you have just caught your dog eating peanut butter with Xylitol and contacted your veterinarian or pet poison emergency line, they may have you induce vomiting as a first step.
The vet will suggest methods to make your dog vomit, but this may not always help. Sometimes if successful, the dog may improve on his own. If not, and the tests show low serum potassium or blood sugar, he will put the dog on a fluid therapy program.
He will do frequent blood tests to continue assessing the degree of Xylitol toxicity. He will check his liver function. The outcome is usually guarded to poor. This depends on how long the Xylitol was in the dog's system and the follow up tests the vet will do.
Always read labels on peanut butter
Dogs enjoy peanut butter, straight up or baked into their treats. Natural peanut butter with no additives and no Xylitol is completely safe for dogs. It is up to you to check the labels carefully in order to protect your dog’s health.
This isn't limited to peanut butter either. Keep all diet (sugar free) products well out of reach in high cabinets or counters much in the way you would baby proof your home. Keep your purse up out of the way of a prying nose if you keep gum or candy in it.
It is best to avoid all artificial sweeteners when it comes to dogs. However, other standard sweeteners like aspartamine, saccharine, sucralose and stevia are not as dangerous to dogs. The only one to watch for and never use is Xylitol.