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

Dog licking the spoon with peanut butter advice

Is peanut butter a dog-friendly treat?

© Shutterstock

There’s no doubt that most dogs love nothing more than to get the chance to lick the peanut butter knife. But while they may love it, there have been a number of stories hitting the headlines that suggest peanut butter could actually be harmful to your canine. So, what’s the truth? Can dogs eat peanut butter without getting sick?

By Zoë Monk

Published on the 13/02/2020, 18:00

If like most canines, your dog likes peanut butter, you are probably no stranger to feeding them some dog peanut butter as a treat. Perhaps you even give them a lick of your peanut butter knife once you’ve finished using it. After all, it’s sugar-free peanut butter so it must be safe, right?

Is peanut butter safe for dogs?

As a dog owner, you will probably be relieved to know that in most cases dogs can eat peanut butter. In moderation, it provides a good source of healthy fat and protein. However, some peanut butter brands contain xylitol which can be extremely toxic to dogs. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that’s used a sugar substitute. While it’s safe for humans, even just a very small amount can be fatal to dogs. The ingredient can cause insulin release, leading to liver failure. In just one year there were as many as 250 cases in the UK of xylitol dog poisoning. Always check the label before giving your dog peanut butter in case it contains xylitol. Peanut butter brands known to contain xylitol include P28 Foods, Krush Nutrition, Nuts ‘N More and Go Nuts.

Dog with peanut butter on its nose
Do you love peanut butter as much as this dog? ©Shutterstock

Which dogs shouldn’t eat peanut butter?

Peanut butter isn’t safe for all dogs and owners should take extra care to ensure that their canine companions can eat peanut butter without the risk to their health. Dogs with health conditions should avoid peanut butter.

  • Overweight dogs: As peanut butter contains fat, it isn’t ideal for dogs that are overweight and, on a diet, (or should be on one). There are leaner alternatives available that can be used as training treats such as tuna, ham and chicken.
  • Dogs with kidney problems: Peanut butter can often contain a lot of salt which should be avoided by dogs with any kidney issues.
  • Canines at risk of pancreatitis. Certain breeds such as Miniature Schnauzers and Yorkshire Terriers have an increased risk of developing pancreatitis. Even a small amount of a high-fat treat such as peanut butter may worsen or even bring on pancreatitis so best avoided.
  • 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 additional foods.

Which peanut butter should I give my dog?

For those dogs that can eat it, most types of peanut butter that don’t contain xylitol should be fine to give to your dog. However, some peanut butter brands are better than others for canines. Many peanut butter brands you find on the shelves will contain some preservatives and extra sugar that aren’t good for your dog. You should, therefore, look for peanut butter or other nut-based butter that is low in, or completely free of, additives. Make sure you read all labels and ingredients lists very carefully. It’s a good idea to give your dog peanut butter treats that have been made specifically for dogs as these will have been formulated by animal nutritionists and should generally be ok for your dog.

How to make dog-friendly homemade peanut butter treats

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

To make sure you always know exactly what’s in the treats you give your dog you can make them yourself. With just a few everyday ingredients you can make some tasty peanut butter treats that your dog will love. 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.

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 should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories intake in treats. The exact amount that is safe to give will vary from dog to dog and from brand to brand. Small dogs, including puppies, should only be given ½ tablespoon of peanut butter per day at the most. Larger dogs should be given no more than one tablespoon.

Give your dog a peanut butter treat

Most dogs seem to really enjoy peanut butter. Fortunately, there is no need to stop giving the tasty treat to your dog as long as you make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol. But like with most things, 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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