Shelves and online retail stores are filled with dog treats that contain peanut and peanut butter flavors, and you hear all the time of people giving their dog peanuts or peanut butter, but are they even safe for our dogs to consume? Foods such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia and pecans are considered toxic to dogs. Peanuts, which are actually classified as a legume rather than a nut, are not toxic to dogs. However, there are many factors to watch out for that may make peanuts and peanut butter consumption unsafe for our beloved dogs.
Like with just about everything in life, moderation is key because even healthy foods eaten too frequently or in high doses can be unhealthy. Peanuts and peanut butter can be an excellent source of proteins and healthy fats for your dog. They also contain vitamins B and E and niacin. On the other hand, because they are high in fat, it can potentially unsafe for dogs. Dogs' bodies have difficulty digesting fat, and when a high concentration of fat is consumed, it can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting. In severe cases of too much fat consumption, it can lead to pancreatitis, which is a very painful condition for dogs. So, a good rule of thumb for giving your dog peanuts or peanut butter is to give them no more than 10% of their daily calories in treats. Generally speaking, small dogs should get no more than 1/2 tablespoon of peanuts or peanut butter and larger dogs should get no more than 1 tablespoon daily. Consult your veterinarian because every dose is different based on your dog's breed, size, and health.
Keep in mind that, like humans, some dogs can be allergic to peanuts. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include itchiness, redness, scratching, bald patches, and more. If you notice any of these symptoms, bring your dog to your vet immediately.
If you do decide to feed your dog peanuts, it's best to give them unsalted nuts that are raw, boiled, or dry roasted. Too much salt can lead to salt poisoning. Do not give them any flavored peanuts, for example, honey roasted peanuts. Do not give them any peanut shells either because those can be a choking hazard. Sometimes even peanuts themselves are too small for dogs and, if swallowed whole, can cause obstructions.
It would be best to give your dog organic peanut butter with no preservatives and no artificial sweeteners. Make sure to always check the ingredients before feeding peanut butter to your dog. Do not give your dog any peanut butter that contains xylitol as an ingredient. Other key words such as "natural sweetener" and "sugar alcohol" could mean that the peanut butter is sweetened with xylitol.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is used as a sweetener in some peanut butters, gums, mints, chewable vitamins, ice creams and more. It is extremely toxic to dogs. If a dog consumes xylitol, it can significantly drop the blood sugar levels causing them to by hypoglycemic. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include disorientation, staggering, panting, collapsing, and seizures.