It’s National Dog Day, and we know how much dogs love peanut butter. But, the hair-raising headline that peanut butter can kill your dog has gone viral on the Internet and social media. The good news is that regular peanut butter is safe to give your dog as a treat. The ingredient causing the problem is Xylitol, a sugar substitute found in lower or sugar-free products. If the peanut butter you give your dog doesn’t contain Xylitol, then your furry friend can enjoy it. We spoke with a veterinary nutritionist to get some insight about peanut butter safety for dogs.
Dr. Susan Wynn is an author, speaker, veterinary nutritionist and specialist in integrative medicine with BluePearl Georgia Veterinary Specialists. She says that when it comes to animal nutrition, “one of the biggest challenges is misinformation on the internet. You can find any information you want to back up any kind of opinion you have on the Internet and a bunch of them are wrong, so it’s a giant problem.” Still, there are certainly some concerns that are justified when it comes to what is safe to feed your pets.
“Most people tend to think of dogs and cats as small humans,” says Wynn. But the fact is while animal nutrition has some similarities to human nutrition, there are things that are ok for human consumption that are not for animals. For instance, the sugar substitute Xylitol can be found in commercial products for human consumption, including peanut butter. While this sugar-alcohol is safe for humans, it’s poisonous for dogs and cats. According to Wynn, “there have been plenty of cases of toxicity due to xylitol. We know it’s highly toxic in dogs and cats.”
That said, regular peanut butter is not toxic to dogs. It’s important to read ingredient labels before feeding any human grade products to animals. Wynn’s advice is “if you are going to use peanut butter to give your dog treats or medicine, which many people do, it should only have peanuts, salt, and maybe sugar. Make sure it doesn’t have Xylitol.”
The best bet, however, is to give peanut butter treats that are specifically marketed for dogs. Wynn says those products are “generally going to be ok because they are formulated by animal nutritionists.” And, as we’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, there are plenty of peanut butter treats on the market at your local pet food store. But remember that peanut butter, and dog treats that contain peanut butter are just that: treats. They should be given in moderation and not as a meal.
While stories on the Internet have sensationalized the idea that peanut butter is deadly for dogs, peanut butter without Xylitol is safe for dogs to eat. So, before putting a dollop of peanut butter on your dog’s food for their special day, be sure to read the ingredients label of the product. That goes for anything that you feed your pet. And for information on serving sizes and food nutrition for your pet, always consult your veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist. Happy Dog Day to you, and your best friend.