If there’s one food that dogs are known to go nuts over, it’s peanut butter. From its sweet yet salty taste and satisfying texture to its various nutritional benefits, it’s no surprise that peanut butter is such a common ingredient in many of your dog’s favorite treats.
Plus, peanut butter is just so easy to spread inside hollow bones and toys, you can use it as a distraction while trimming your dog’s nails or giving them a bath, and it’s a convenient way to administer medication (because no dog will refuse a pill that’s hidden in a glob of peanut butter). But even though peanut butter is irresistible to most dogs (and humans!), is it actually something your dog can eat?
Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?
Experts agree that peanut butter is safe in moderation for most dogs. Better yet, because it’s rich in protein and healthy fats, vitamins B and E, and niacin, peanut butter can actually be both a delicious and nutritional treat for your dog.
Just like for humans, peanut butter’s high fat content means that it’s not something you’re going to want to offer your four-legged friend multiple times a day—or even multiple times a week—as it can lead to obesity as well as serious health issues such as pancreatitis. Peanut butter’s sodium content can also be an issue. When offering peanut butter to your dog, try to stick with either unsalted or homemade varieties without added sugar and additives whenever possible. As always, you’ll want to check in with your veterinarian before sharing peanut butter with your dog, just to be sure he or she feels it's a "people food" that your individual dog can easily tolerate.
Many whole nuts are a no-no for Fido because they contain toxins, lead to gastrointestinal upset, and can cause obstructions if eaten whole.
How Much Peanut Butter Can Dogs Eat?
Generally speaking, many veterinarians advise pet parents to follow the 10 percent rule—that is, treats should never make up more than 10 percent of your dog’s diet. If it’s your dog’s first time having peanut butter, try to start with just a small lick or two and monitor your pet afterwards just to be on the safe side. It's okay to offer peanut butter as an occasional treat—try a tablespoon-sized serving mixed in with their kibble or slathered inside a Kong or other similar toy once or twice a week (and don't hesitate to offer it straight from the spoon on occasion).
It’s probably best to offer pet-friendly fruits and veggies before opening that peanut butter jar, and sharing multiple globs of peanut butter several times a week is more than likely going to cause weight gain and other related health issues in your pet.
Can Peanut Butter Be Dangerous for Dogs?
There are a few safety issues surrounding peanut butter that dog owners should we aware of. For starters, you’ll never want to hand over your PB&J, no matter how much your dog stares you down with those longing eyes. Grapes are known to be highly toxic for dogs, and an excess of sugar can also be harmful to your dog's health, so that means it’s never a good idea to share jelly.
You’ll also want to be sure to read the label on the peanut butter very closely. In recent months, some peanut butter manufacturers began using a sugar substitute known as xylitol. Often found in sugar-free products like chewing gum, breath mints, ice cream, and some baked goods, and often deemed safe for humans, xylitol is extremely toxic for dogs, as it causes a rapid release of insulin that leads to a significant decrease in blood sugar levels that can be life-threatening if left untreated. A dog only needs to consume a small amount of xylitol for it to become deadly from a condition known as hypoglycemia, which can occur within 10 to 60 minutes after your dog consumes a product containing xylitol or as much as several hours later.
What Kinds of Peanut Butter Are Best for Dogs?
When it comes to creamy or crunchy, either way is fine. Though you'll want to avoid offering your dog most varieties of whole nuts, the peanuts in crunchy peanut butter are safe for canine consumption. When choosing a peanut butter brand for your pooch, opt for the all-natural, organic, and unsalted varieties whenever possible. These varieties consist primarily of peanuts, so there's no risk of your dog consuming ingredients like sugar or corn syrup, artificial sweeteners like xylitol, or other preservatives that could potentially be harmful.
Be sure to stay away from any peanut butters marketed as either reduced-fat or low-sugar, because those are the varieties that are more likely to have additives to help the peanut butter taste as "normal" as possible.
As long as you've checked the ingredients label, asked your veterinarian, and offer it as a once-in-a-while treat, go ahead and spoon up some peanut butter for your four-legged friend, who will be more than happy to enjoy it mixed into their kibble, baked into a homemade treat, or licked right from the spoon.