There are few things as precious as seeing your puppy going crazy over a special treat. If you’ve ever been making a PB&J sandwich in the kitchen while your dog is around, you’ll have noticed that hopeful “for me?” look in their eyes. Most times, it’s not your homemade jelly that has captured their attention.
But while pooches love the stuff, is peanut butter safe for dogs? How much is too much peanut butter, and can your puppy and adult dog enjoy a spoonful? Our handy guide covers allergies, ingredients to avoid like xylitol, and how to monitor what is a safe amount of peanut butter for dogs.
Reducing peanut butter to its essential components — peanuts and peanut oil — then the answer to “Is peanut butter safe for dogs” is yes. If you’ve been homemaking your PB alongside your J, it’s probably okay in moderation unless your dog has allergies.
“In moderation” is the key phrase. There’s such a thing as too much peanut butter for a puppy or a full-grown dog. Just because your Irish wolfhound is taller than you doesn’t mean it can have an evening on the couch eating peanut butter from the jar with a spoon when it’s in a mood.
However, there are exceptions. Some dogs are allergic to peanut butter – you can check this with your vet. Some brands also add an ingredient called xylitol which is toxic to dogs. This needs to be avoided at all times.
Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to peanuts, but the nuts aren’t inherently toxic to puppies. The most common cause of toxic reactions is an ingredient added as a sweetener called xylitol.
High-quality homemade PB doesn’t need sugar or sweeteners of any kind — the quality of the nuts should be sweetness enough. If you’re buying it from a store, you’ll need to check the ingredient list.
Xylitol is an ingredient used commercially to make peanut butter sweeter, but it’s highly toxic to dogs. When a puppy eats a product containing xylitol, this reaction tends to happen within an hour:
- The dog experiences a massive rush of insulin
- Blood sugar levels drop far below normal (hypoglycemia)
- The animal becomes weak and dazed
- Your puppy may vomit or experience diarrhea
- If left untreated, this condition can be fatal.
Rule of thumb: either make your dog-friendly PB at home or buy from brands that are safe and check the ingredient list thoroughly. Dogs should never be anywhere near PB that contains xylitol.
Dogs are allergic to most nut varieties – amongst others, almonds, walnuts, pecans, and pistachios are all off the menu. However, only a relatively small proportion of dogs experience peanut allergies.
The best way to know if your puppy is allergic to peanuts is to ask your vet. Don’t feed your puppy any amount of PB if you’re unsure. If you’re asking, “Is peanut butter safe for dogs”, make sure you find out if your puppy suffers allergies in the presence of a vet.
Yes, too much peanut butter can give your puppy diarrhea. However, it can do the same for you. You both need to follow a diet that consists mostly of healthy meals and stick to enjoying a little PB as a treat from time to time.
Dogs with allergies can also experience diarrhea as a symptom. Whether your puppy is allergic or it’s just had too much peanut butter, don’t repeat any feeding pattern that leads to diarrhea. It’s unpleasant and harmful for the dog, and it’s no fun at all to clean up.
Is peanut butter safe for dogs when they’re still young? You want to be careful with what you feed your puppy, but a little PB as a treat is usually fine. Again, check with your vet before trying it, as puppies can have allergies like anyone else.
You should also keep the amount very low and stick to unsalted, unsugared peanut butter. It’s not a good way to discover that your puppy has diabetes.
Treats should make up no more than 10% of a dog’s diet as a rule of thumb. If you don’t know when is peanut butter safe for dogs, weigh it compared to the weight of the meal. 10% is the upper limit, but closer to 3-5% is much safer.
Dogs who have eaten too much peanut butter might experience:
- Restlessness (especially if it contains sugar)
- Higher risk of diabetes as a long-term effect
It’s nice to indulge your puppy, but remember this: dogs don’t have unlimited treats as an option in nature. Like most animals, they understand how to self-medicate in natural surroundings. However, they have no self-control mechanism or decades of research to tell them that this jar of deliciousness is only meant as an occasional snack.
Is peanut butter safe for dogs if it’s extra-crunchy or creamy? Here’s how to choose the best type of PB for your puppy.
The only ingredient in natural, dog-friendly PB should be peanuts. This comes in the form of whole peanuts and peanut oil. It’s unsalted, unsugared, and contains no artificial sweeteners. Natural PB is the healthiest type to feed your dog and gets two thumbs up.
Extra-crunchy PB might still only contain one ingredient, but the nuts haven’t been processed as much. This can give your puppy an upset stomach if it doesn’t chew them properly and can cause diarrhea. Too much peanut butter containing large nut pieces isn’t a great idea.
Extra-creamy tends to have more additives than other types. However, you can find all-natural creamy peanut butter – this is fine for dogs. Again, the consistency means that too much peanut butter can cause diarrhea, so feed with caution.
Is peanut butter safe for dogs if it’s from the supermarket? Here are some brands that are safe and some to avoid.
Skippy is safe for most dogs. It doesn’t contain xylitol, so it’s not toxic. On the other hand, like many leading brands, it contains some additives such as oils, sugars, and salts. These could cause your dog health problems in the long run if it eats too much peanut butter.
Jif isn’t toxic to dogs, as it contains no xylitol. Like many kid-friendly PB recipes, though, it contains a fair amount of salt and sugar. Use in moderation.
Peter Pan PB doesn’t use xylitol as a sweetener – it’s not toxic to puppies. While these brands are all safe, you might want to consider an all-natural PB designed for dogs that are made exclusively from peanuts.
A 2017 article in the Boston Globe found that major brands using xylitol included:
- P28 Foods
- Go Nuts Co.
- Protein Plus PB
- Nuts ‘N More
- Krush Nutrition
These should be kept far away from your puppy. Keep them sealed on a high shelf in a closed cupboard if you have them in the house. Better yet, replace them with natural peanut butter. See our recommendation for peanut butters that are safe for dogs.
Here are a few foods that are popular in combination with PB and whether they’re safe for your dog.
Nothing wrong with an apple. Apples contain healthy vitamins and are a delicious vehicle for a peanut butter treat. Just remember to remove the apple seeds.
Bananas are safe and healthy but can be difficult for some puppies to digest. Only feed a little mashed-up banana with some PB.
Verdict: Safe, But Better for Adult Dogs
Oatmeal is fine. However, as with most human food, it should be used in strict moderation — a little oatmeal and PB as a Sunday morning treat is acceptable.
Verdict: Safe in Moderation
Pumpkin is a great choice. Canned pumpkin with no additives is healthy, cheap, and provides fiber for the diet, reducing the risk of diarrhea.
The fruit used in jelly is unlikely to be toxic. However, the added sugar can put your puppy at higher risk of diabetes. Only use a smidgeon of jelly as a sweetener with PB.
Verdict: Safe in Moderation (check the sugar content)
Raw sweet potatoes can cause indigestion and diarrhea in dogs. Cooked plain and mashed (or canned), it’s a healthy and fibrous addition to their diet.
Verdict: Safe When Cooked
Dogs can eat bread. However, bread has no nutritional value for them and can cause indigestion. An apple is a better vehicle for PB.
Verdict: Safe in Moderation
Most dogs have an almond allergy. Don’t use mixed nut spreads, and keep almond products away from your puppy.
So is peanut butter safe for dogs? Small amounts of natural, unsweetened PB make a great treat, especially with something healthy like pumpkin or apple. Remember to consult your vet before giving your pet any peanut butter, but you’re good to go after that.