Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter? An Expert Weighs in

A golden retriever is eating peanut butter out of a spoon.Sep 1, 2023

Whether speaking to new or seasoned pet parents, veterinarians are often asked ‘can dogs eat peanut butter?’ The good news is that regular peanut butter is safe to give your dog as a treat. Just make sure to avoid peanut butter with Xylitol, a sugar substitute found in lower or sugar-free products. Xylitol is the only ingredient in peanut butter that’s bad for dogs. It doesn’t matter the brand, if you give your dog peanut butter without Xylitol, then your furry friend can enjoy it. What else do you need to know? We spoke with a veterinary nutritionist to get some insight into peanut butter safety for dogs.

Dr. Laura Gaylord is a veterinary nutritionist, speaker and consultant for pet parents, pet supplements and the pet food industry. She says “unfortunately there is so much misinformation on the internet when it comes to animal nutrition. You can find information to support really any opinion or bias you have about a subject and it is difficult to know what is truly factual versus opinion. It is a big problem.” There are certainly 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 Gaylord. But the fact is while animal nutrition has some similarities to human nutrition, some things 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 some peanut butters. While this sugar-alcohol is safe for humans, it’s poisonous for dogs and cats. According to Gaylord, “there have been plenty of cases of toxicity due to xylitol. We know it’s highly toxic in dogs and cats.”

Dr. Gaylord holding a puppy.

That said, dogs can have peanut butter, as long as it is regular peanut butter which is not toxic to them. It’s important to read ingredient labels before feeding any human-grade products to animals. Gaylord’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 when it comes to dogs and peanut butter is to only give peanut butter treats that are specifically marketed for dogs. Gaylord 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.

Interested in knowing more? Here are some popular questions about peanut butter and dogs with answers from our expert.

  1. Can dogs have peanut butter?
    Yes, if the peanut butter you choose is NOT peanut butter with Xylitol. Read the label to make sure your peanut butter includes just peanuts, salt, and maybe sugar. And the same goes for peanut butter and puppies – as long as it is Xylitol-free peanut butter, it is fine for an occasional treat. Remember always limit treats and snacks to no more than 10% of the daily intake to maintain a healthy, complete and balanced diet.
  2. Is peanut butter good for dogs?
    Peanut butter without Xylitol is perfect as a treat for your pet, but it is just that, a treat. Remember that peanut butter contains fats and although these are good fats, too much fat can be a problem for fat-sensitive dogs.
  3. Can dogs eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?
    Yes. A taste of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be a safe and tasty treat for a dog, however, remember to limit treats to no more than 10% of their daily calories so consider offering a corner or bite of your sandwich instead of the whole thing! It is important to avoid peanut butter with Xylitol.
  4. Can dogs eat crunchy peanut butter?
    Crunchy or smooth, regular peanut butter is safe to give your dog as a treat, just make sure sure the peanut butter does not have Xylitol.
  5. How much peanut butter can I give my dog?
    This will depend on the size of your dog. It is a best practice to always consult your veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist when it comes to serving sizes or pet nutrition. The general rule is no more than 10% of the pet’s daily calories should come from treats/snacks to avoid unbalancing the total daily diet.
  6. Why do dogs like peanut butter?
    Most dogs greatly enjoy the taste of proteins and fats; thus, peanuts and especially peanut butter are very tasty to dogs!

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