Dog licking the spoon with peanut butter

Is peanut butter a dog-friendly treat?

© Shutterstock

Can dogs eat peanut butter or is it harmful to their health?

By Dr Holly Graham BVMedSci BVMBVS MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Most dogs love peanut butter. This high fat, high sugar snack might be great for hiding medication in, but is it healthy as a regular treat?

Peanut butter is fantastic as a treat for humans, but it isn’t always safe for our furry friends. So, what’s the truth? Can dogs eat peanut butter without getting sick?

Is peanut butter safe for dogs?

If you’re a regular to sharing your peanut butter with your dog, you’ll be relieved to know that most peanut butters are safe as an occasional treat. Giving your dog peanut butter cookies or peanut butter on toast for breakfast won’t win you favour with your vet, but hiding a pill or a tiny amount as a treat usually won’t cause any real harm.

It’s becoming more and more important to check the ingredients on the back of your tub. Xylitol is increasingly used as a sugar replacement in peanut butter, and is toxic to dogs - even in small quantities. This artificial sweetener is safe for humans, but causes damage to the liver and hypoglycaemia quickly in dogs. If left untreated this can be fatal. Always check the label before giving your dog any of your favourite snack.

Many pet stores now sell dog-safe versions of peanut butter, and whilst these may not be as tasty as ours, they’re a safe option to reward your dog for good behaviour - in moderation, of course!

Do you love peanut butter as much as this dog? ©Shutterstock

Which dogs shouldn’t eat peanut butter?

Peanut butter isn’t a suitable treat for all dogs, and owners should take extra care to ensure that their canine companions can eat peanut butter without any risks to their health.

  • Overweight dogs. Peanut butter is high in fat and calories, and won’t help a dog on a diet. Leaner alternatives can be used as training treats, and even our slim friends shouldn’t have too much. Peanut butter isn’t good for the waistline if fed too often! i
  • Dogs with kidney problems. Peanut butter can often contain a lot of salt and high levels of protein, which can exacerbate any kidney issues already present.
  • Dogs with a history or predisposition for pancreatitis. If your dog has ever had a bout of pancreatitis, you’ll know how poorly they can be. Certain breeds can be at an increased risk of developing pancreatitis, so high fat treats like peanut butter should be avoided with these animals.
  • Dogs on special diets: If your dog has been put on a special diet or if they are sensitive to some foods, it’s best to stick to this diet and not add in any additional foods.

Which peanut butter should I give my dog?

For dogs who are healthy and an appropriate weight, peanut butter brands that don’t contain xylitol are suitable as a small treat. Unfortunately many of our favourite brands contain preservatives and additional sugar, which make for unhealthy treats. Look for peanut butter that is low in, or free from, additives. Always check the label before giving anything to your dog.

The safest option you can buy is a dog peanut butter from a local pet store, or online. These versions are lower in salt, sugar and additives and will definitely be free from xylitol. Peanut butter cookies and home-made treats may be tasty for us, but aren’t suitable for our canine companions. Shop-bought treats are always the best option (but even then - not too many!).

How to make dog-friendly homemade peanut butter treats

Peanut butter treats for your pooch, looks yummy! ©Shutterstock

There are lots of recipes available online to make your dog some home-made snacks. Always make sure your ingredients are pet safe and don’t contain xylitol or high levels of salt. All treats should be fed carefully - it’s much easier to gain weight than to lose it! The following recipe can be used to make your dog some peanut butter cookies. Mix together in a bowl:

  • 300g of wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 250g of xylitol-free peanut butter
  • 150ml of water
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1 egg

Once the mixture has formed a dough, roll it out and using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into whatever shapes you like. Put the cookies on a lined baking tray and then bake in the oven for 12 to 14 minutes until golden brown. Make sure the cookies are thoroughly cool before giving them to your canine companions. This recipe should make lots of cookies - be careful not to feed them all at once!

How much peanut butter is OK for dogs?

Just like with any treat, you should be careful how much you give to your dog. Peanut butter shouldn’t make up a regular part of your pet’s diet, and should really only be used as a high value training treat, on very special occasions as something to hide a pill in. The smallest amount possible should be given, a teaspoon is a huge amount for even a large dog! There are many more suitable and lower calorie treats commercially available.

Give your dog a peanut butter treat

Most dogs, like lots of humans, seem to really enjoy peanut butter. The occasional smear of peanut butter is safe, but not always healthy. Ensure any peanut butter you put near your pet doesn’t contain any xylitol, and always limit how often you treat your pet with this snack. Moderation is key, so limit your dog to only a small amount of peanut butter and ensure it accompanies a healthy, balanced diet.

You want your dog to be healthy? Well it starts with a good and balanced nutrition.
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