Can Dogs Eat Peanuts?

Naughty girl feeding pet dog peanut butter on living room floor
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The short answer is yes. Peanuts, unlike other nuts, are not toxic to dogs. As with any new food, it is always wise to introduce it to your dog slowly, so you can easily determine if your dog has an allergy or any trouble digesting them.

What Kind of Peanuts Are Safe for My Dog?

As with everything, moderation is key. A few peanuts are safe for dogs to eat. Peanuts and peanut butter can be an excellent source of protein and healthy fats for your dog. However, dogs have a more difficult time digesting fat. A high concentration of fat can cause stomach issues including vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and inappetence. 

If you are feeding your dog peanuts, it is best to give them unflavored, unsalted nuts that are raw, boiled, or dry roasted. You also want to avoid giving them the peanuts with the shell. The shells can be a choking hazard and cause irritation when swallowed.

What Kind of Peanut Butter Is Safe for My Dog?

While most peanut butter brands are safe for dogs, not all types of peanut butter are safe. Some peanut butter brands contain an ingredient called xylitol, which is toxic to dogs and even eating small amounts can be fatal. Always check the label before giving your dog peanut butter, and do not give them any if xylitol is listed in the ingredients. You also want to avoid peanut butters with chocolate. As with peanuts, peanut butter should be fed in moderation alongside a healthy balanced diet. Try putting some peanut butter on apple for a healthy treat!

Peanut butter without xylitol or chocolate is a wonderful treat and most dogs love it. Here are some tips on how to use peanut butter for dogs

  • Medication: When medicating your dog, hide it in a small amount of delicious peanut butter
  • Enrichment: Spread some in a puzzle toy like a kong. This will provide your dog with enrichment and will help to keep them entertained for a while. You can even freeze your puzzle toys to make it more difficult for the dog. 
  • Distraction: Since many dogs love peanut butter, it can be a high value treat to help make the dog feel more comfortable and create positive associations with experiences many dogs do not enjoy, such as nail trims and baths. For example, spreading some peanut butter on the tile in the tub for your dog to lick off. 

What Is Xylitol? 

Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that is widely used as a sugar substitute. Chemically, it is a sugar alcohol, and found naturally in berries, plums, corn, oats, mushrooms, lettuce, trees, and some other fruits. It is commonly used in many chewing gums, mints, toothpastes, and in some peanut butters. Although xylitol is okay for human consumption, it is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure, or even death in dogs. If you suspect that your pet has eaten a product containing xylitol, please contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) immediately.

Can Dogs Have Peanut Allergies?

Just like humans, dogs can have peanut allergies too. Although, peanut allergies are uncommon in dogs, it is still good to be aware of symptoms. 

These allergies can be mild to severe. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include red and itching skin, excessive licking of the skin, bald spots, agitation, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing.  

In summary, peanuts can be given to dogs as an occasional treat, provided that these are fresh, unshelled, and unsalted. If it is your dog’s first time to eat peanuts, give only a few to see how your dog responds.