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Can dogs eat peanut butter?

A teenage girl feeding a golden retriever peanut butter from a spoon
(Image credit: Getty)

Peanut butter is a tasty and nutritious food for humans, and pet owners often wonder if it can be given to their dog when choosing healthy dog treats. Not all human foods are safe for consumption in pets, prompting the question: What human food can dogs eat?

Peanut butter can, in fact, be fed to dogs as long as it is given in moderation alongside the best dog food and it does not contain the artificial sugar xylitol, which we’ll discuss later. Keep reading to find out how to safely feed dogs peanut butter.

Is peanut butter good for dogs?

People consume peanut butter for its delicious taste and health benefits, as it is a good source of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins B6 and E—do dogs get these same advantages?

Since peanut butters are formulated with human nutrition in mind, the health benefits are minimal in dogs. If your dog is fed a balanced commercial diet, however, they shouldn’t require any additional nutrients. Most dogs go crazy for the taste of peanut butter, so it can be very useful for training, hiding medications, and providing a distraction during nail clips or bath time.

Generally, no more than 10% of a dog’s daily calories should come from treats. Peanut butter is rich in calories (up to 100 calories per tablespoon!), so it should be given in small amounts. The exact amount depends on the dog’s size and age, among other factors.

When is peanut butter bad for dogs?

Because peanut butter is high in calories and fat, feeding too much can predispose dogs to conditions like obesity, diabetes, and pancreatitis. Peanut butter should be avoided in dogs who are overweight or have underlying health problems such as kidney disease or food allergies.

When choosing a peanut butter for your pooch, it is extremely important to make sure that it does not contain xylitol or any other ingredients with the letters “xyl”, as these may be a form of the toxic sweetener. Xylitol is found in many sugar-free foods, including some chewing gums, and even a small amount can be fatal in dogs. It causes a sudden release of insulin in dogs, leading to a dramatic drop in blood sugar. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycaemia, is life-threatening and can cause symptoms such as weakness, confusion, incoordination, collapse, and seizures.

If you are concerned that your dog may have eaten a product containing xylitol, it is crucial that you seek veterinary attention immediately. If you have the packaging, bring this with you so that your vet has access to the ingredients list.

Tips on feeding your dog peanut butter

If your dog is bored of the best dog treats at the pet store, peanut butter can be a good substitute. There are plenty of recipes for DIY peanut butter dog treats, but here are some quick suggestions that use peanut butter:

Suggestion 1 – Know exactly what your dog is eating and make your own peanut butter by grinding peanuts into a paste in a food processor

Suggestion 2 – Spread peanut butter on a slow feeder mat or bowl to keep your dog occupied and entertained

Suggestion 3 – Fill a Kong or other hollow toy with your dog’s kibble and seal the hole with peanut butter—this can be given fresh or frozen

Conclusion

Although it's unlikely to add nutrition to your dog’s diet, peanut butter can be given as a tasty treat. Peanut butter can be store-bought, as long as it does not contain xylitol, or it can be homemade. Alternatively, peanut butters specifically formulated for dogs are also available. Whatever type you choose, feed only small amounts to keep your dog happy and healthy!

Dr. Diana Hasler graduated with distinction from the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 2018. She has experience working as a small animal veterinarian in general practice, where she has treated many dogs, cats, rabbits, and rodents. She has also recently branched out into the field of medical communications, doing freelance work as a medical editor and writer. Dr. Hasler currently lives in Edinburgh where she enjoys spending time with her husband Gavin and playing with their feisty tabby cat Poppy.