Most households keep peanut butter on hand to enjoy in a sandwich or as a snack. But humans aren’t the only ones who crave peanut butter. If your dog gets a taste of it, he might beg for more every time he sees you grab the jar.
Dog parents might wonder: can dogs eat peanut butter, too? Even more important – is peanut butter safe for dogs?
Below is some information on the benefits of this treat, and how to be sure it’s a good option for your canine companion.
Can Dogs Have Peanut Butter?
Yes, dogs can eat a small amount of peanut butter as a treat every now and then. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure this food will be safe for your pet.
“Peanut butter, in general, is a fairly safe food item to feed your healthy pet that has no chronic, diagnosed medical disorder,” says Dr. Jodi Lynn Smith, a veterinarian at Animal Care Unlimited in Columbus, Ohio. “For pets with food hypersensitivity, certain (not all) allergies, and chronic inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis, peanut butter is too high in fat and could trigger an inflammatory response in the gut.”
It’s also necessary to avoid toxic ingredients like xylitol and chocolate that are added to some peanut butter. Peanut butter might contain salt and sugar that might adversely affect your pet’s health. Therefore, natural peanut butter without added ingredients is the best, safest choice to ensure your dog will have a safe and tasty treat.
Remember, it’s always best to talk to your veterinarian before introducing a new food, especially if your dog has a medical problem or is overweight.
Can Puppies Have Peanut Butter?
Puppies can eat small amounts of peanut butter just like adult dogs. Again, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian to be sure this treat is good for your puppy, and it’s important to avoid peanut butter that contains dangerous ingredients.
Emma Passman, a pet food formulator and pet nutritionist who has been working in the pet food industry for 20 years, advises that a puppy’s digestion can be sensitive after weaning. For this reason, it’s wise to wait until he is at least 12 to 16 weeks old.
She also recommends introducing peanut butter gradually and watching your puppy’s weight.
Is Peanut Butter Good for Dogs?
Peanut butter can give your dog nutrients that may help support his overall health and energy. For example, it can provide your pet with protein and healthy fats, as well as nutrients like B vitamins and vitamin E.
Despite these beneficial properties, stick with feeding your dog a small amount of peanut butter, keeping in mind that it’s best used as a special treat.
While a small amount of peanut butter can be good for dogs, too much peanut butter can quickly lead to weight gain. Similarly, some dogs, such as those with a history of pancreatitis, are sensitive to high fat foods so peanut butter is not a good choice for them. Again, just make sure that there are no extra ingredients like xylitol.
Do Dogs Like Peanut Butter?
Many dogs love the taste of peanut butter. Generally, they go nuts for it. But every dog is different, so don’t assume that your companion will dig into his first serving of peanut butter.
The only way to know if your dog likes peanut butter is by offering him some and seeing how he reacts. You might be surprised to discover that he doesn’t like it, or you might be able to use it in various ways, such as during playtime and training, to keep your dog happy.
“In small amounts, peanut butter is a relatively safe food to feed your pet for good behavior, during training sessions, to help facilitate giving prescribed medications, and as an occasional treat,” says Dr. Smith.
Peanut Butter for Dogs: Types and Variations
The peanut butter you eat may not be safe for your dog to consume. “It’s always better to choose something very simple with very limited ingredients other than peanuts,” Passman advises. “Peanut butter containing a lot of salt should be avoided.”
Consider the following to help ensure you select a dog-safe peanut butter:
Look for natural ingredients. Natural peanut butter that’s unsalted and doesn’t contain other ingredients, such as added sugar, is a good choice. If you prefer feeding your dog organic food, that’s an option too.
Don’t skip reading the label. You might come across brands that make peanut butter for dogs, but don’t presume they’re going to be fine without checking the ingredients. Some of them might contain additional ingredients that may increase the amount of sugar per serving or be inappropriate for your dog’s diet.
Consider making your own peanut butter. Homemade peanut butter can give you peace of mind because you’ll know exactly what’s in it, and it might be an affordable way of giving your dog the healthiest peanut butter possible.
Avoid dangerous ingredients at all costs. Xylitol is a sweetener that’s found in a lot of peanut butters, but it’s toxic to dogs and can lead to death. Any peanut butter that contains this ingredient should NEVER be fed to a dog.
Can Dogs Eat Crunchy Peanut Butter?
“Dogs can eat crunchy or smooth peanut butter, depending on their preference,” says Passman
However, Dr. Smith recommends creamy peanut butter over crunchy options. “The small pieces of peanuts can become lodged in your pet’s teeth or gingiva and contribute to oral discomfort and periodontal disease,” she says.
Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter and Jelly?
No, dogs should not eat peanut butter and jelly. Although your dog might be unaffected after secretly scarfing down a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, both Dr. Smith and Passman recommend sticking with plain peanut butter because jelly adds too much sugar to a dog’s diet.
Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter With Honey?
Some peanut butters contain honey, so you might wonder if it’s okay for your dog to have this combination. Honey isn’t toxic to dogs, but it’s not something you should actively feed your pup. Unfortunately, like jelly, honey can increase the amount of sugar that your dog consumes, so it’s best to avoid peanut butter with added honey.
Can Dogs Eat Powdered Peanut Butter?
Yes! Powdered peanut butter is a great lower calorie option to give to your pup. Mixed with water, it has the same taste and texture as peanut butter with just a fraction of the fat calories. This is especially a good option for small dogs and those on fat-restricted diets.
How Much Peanut Butter Can You Feed a Dog?
When it comes to how much peanut butter your dog can eat, Dr. Smith recommends starting small and suggests a range between ¼ and 1 teaspoon. “Smaller dogs would get closer to ¼ teaspoon, while larger dogs could get a teaspoon,” she says.
If your dog tolerates the peanut butter well and doesn’t have any negative reactions, you can increase that amount, as long as it stays in line with your dog’s caloric needs and doesn’t make up a large portion of your dog’s diet. Peanut butter and other treats should make up no more than a total of 10 percent of your dog’s daily calories.
“I would not advise giving a larger amount to a dog that has never been fed peanut butter until small amounts can be reliably given without adverse effects,” says Dr. Smith.
Risks of Feeding Peanut Butter to Dogs
Dogs and peanut butter don’t always mix, so look for symptoms like digestive upset or allergic reactions. Examples include diarrhea, vomiting, and itching.
Even if your dog isn’t allergic to peanut butter, if he eats too much of it, he might gain weight. Instead of giving your dog this food every day, make it a treat he can enjoy once in a while.
This can’t be stressed enough: dangerous ingredients should be avoided. Two toxic ingredients to stay away from are chocolate and xylitol. “Human versions can contain ingredients not suitable for dogs,” says Passman, so review the ingredient label closely before feeding your dog peanut butter.
3 Ways to Feed Peanut Butter to Dogs
If your dog enjoys the taste of peanut butter, there are some fun ways to incorporate it into your routine as a special treat. Here are a couple suggestions for feeding your dog peanut butter:
- Use peanut butter during playtime by adding some to your dog’s KONG toy, lick mat, or puzzle feeder.
- Give peanut butter as a reward during training sessions. “Loading a syringe is one way to help train your pet and deliver ultra-small doses of peanut butter,” says Dr. Smith.
- If you’re having difficulty medicating your dog, a small amount of peanut butter might be enough to hide a pill and ensure your dog swallows it with ease.
Remember, peanut butter can be high in fat and calories. If you aren’t sure how many calories your dog should be consuming each day, ask your veterinarian for guidance.