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Can dogs eat peanut butter?

Excited dog outside licks lips

Does your dog magically appear in the kitchen every time you open a jar of peanut butter? Whether it’s stuffed in a toy or licked straight from the spoon, peanut butter can be a nice treat for dogs—in moderation, of course. Can dogs eat peanut butter? What are the potential safety risks of giving your dog peanut butter? 

Table of contents 

Can dogs eat peanut butter? 

The short answer is yes, most peanut butter is safe for dogs to eat. A nutrient-dense food, peanut butter can be an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins B and E, and niacin. 

Dogs have a natural instinct to seek out certain chemicals that signal a nutrient-rich food, so most of our furry friends greatly enjoy the taste of proteins and fats found in peanut butter. Whether it’s crunchy or creamy, peanut butter is a yummy—and useful—treat for dogs when given in moderation. 

Peanut butter can be a helpful tool for grooming, keeping dogs occupied and mentally stimulated, and delivering medication. Pet parents use peanut butter with their dogs in the following ways: 

  • Bath time – When training your dog to tolerate bath time, try smearing a small amount of peanut butter on the wall of your tub or shower to keep your dog distracted and relaxed. There are also rubber mats that stick to surfaces so you don’t have to apply peanut butter directly to your walls. As your dog busily licks the peanut butter, they will be less focused on being groomed, making it a more pleasant experience for both of you. 

    You may have seen popular videos of dog owners wrapping their heads in cellophane, smearing peanut butter on their forehead, and attempting to trim their dog’s nails while their dog licks the tasty snack from their head. While this may be effective with some dogs, it can be dangerous. With your face so close to your dog’s mouth, one wrong move or a nail clipped too short and your dog could react by biting you. 
  • Medication – Giving medications like pills and capsules can be stressful—most dogs won’t willingly swallow plain medicines, so how are you supposed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions? Peanut butter can help make this job easier by cloaking the medication in something delicious. The stickiness and intense flavor of peanut butter disguises the texture and flavor of most pills. 

    When you first start using peanut butter to administer medication to your dog, first offer them a dollop without medicine so that they are excited and unsuspecting when the pill is eventually hidden inside. 
  • Mental stimulation – If you have a smart, high-energy dog who is food motivated and needs a lot of mental stimulation, consider using peanut butter with a fun puzzle feeder toy. Spread a spoonful of peanut butter inside a hollow bone or Kong and let your dog lick to their heart’s content. 

    For added challenge and enrichment, fill a Kong with kibble, seal the hole with peanut butter, and put it in the freezer for a few hours. Once the peanut butter is frozen solid, offer it to our dog as a long-lasting treat. This will both entertain them and work their brains, which can help keep your dog happy, healthy, and out of trouble. 

Did you know: ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews are peanut butter-flavored! 

Pet parents know how important palatability is when it comes to dogs’ food, treats, medications, and anything else they need to ingest. ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews are peanut butter flavored to make them easy for dogs to love. Not only can ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews offer itching, stress, joint discomfort, and neuro support, but dogs enjoy taking them, making the process of addressing your dog’s issues more pleasant and effective. 

How much peanut butter is safe for dogs? 

Yes, peanut butter is generally safe for dogs. But it is possible for your dog to have too much of a good thing. So, how much peanut butter is safe for your dog? 

This will depend on the size of your dog. Veterinarians typically recommend that no more than 10% of your pet’s daily calorie intake should come from treats or snacks like peanut butter. Between the high fat and calorie content of peanut butter, it should be limited to small and occasional special treats. The high fat content of peanut butter can also be dangerous for dogs with pancreatitis.  

Potential health risks of peanut butter 

Peanut butter is rich in nutrients, but it does not provide a balanced source of healthy nutrients, as it is mostly fat. It also typically contains extra sugar, preservatives, and added salt that makes it high in sodium. With this, moderation is important, as too much of a good thing can lead to obesity and other health complications like pancreatitis. Large amounts of peanut butter can also be dangerous for dogs with diabetes and food sensitivities. 

Xylitol 

Some peanut butters contain the artificial sweetener xylitol. This sugar substitute is often found in sugar-free products like chewing gum, toothpaste, breath mints, chewable vitamins and baked goods. It is safe for people, but toxic to dogs. 

Xylitol consumption causes a sudden, dangerous drop in blood sugar and a rapid release of insulin. Severe low blood sugar, also referred to as hypoglycemia, can occur in dogs as quickly as 10-60 minutes after ingesting xylitol, and can cause confusion, stumbling, lethargy, diarrhea, and seizures. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can cause severe liver damage and even death. 

If your dog exhibits pale gums, rapid breathing, weak or rapid pulse, changes in body temperature, trouble standing, or any of the above symptoms, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Check the label of peanut butter and any other product you plan on feeding to your dog for xylitol and keep xylitol products out of your dog’s reach. 

Allergies 

Although rare, dogs can be allergic to peanuts and therefore, peanut butter. Vomiting, diarrhea, coughing and trouble breathing, as well as skin issues like itching, swelling, and hair loss may all occur with a food allergy and can sometimes be severe. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. 

Take home message 

Peanut butter can be a yummy—and useful—treat for dogs. While a small amount every now and then is generally safe, there are a few potential health risks that pet parents should be aware of in order to keep their dog safe and healthy.  

When giving your dog peanut butter, the healthiest option is unsalted peanut butter, dog-specific peanut butter, or homemade peanut butter. These products are less likely to contain high levels of sodium and added sugar, which can be dangerous for dogs.

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