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What dog doesn’t love peanut butter? If you are looking for a super enticing dog treat that is nutrient-dense with plenty of health benefits, look no further. Peanut butter is a great multi-purpose dog treat that can be used as an aid for keeping dogs entertained when you’re away, for hiding pills, and as a training reward. While peanut butter is a healthy and delicious treat for most dogs, there are a few things to watch out for, like xylitol which is toxic to dogs.
Let’s start with a few reasons why peanut butter can be a great addition to your dog’s balanced diet.
Health Benefits of Peanut Butter for Dogs
You might think that peanuts are nuts (I mean, it’s in the name), but they’re actually a legume like soybeans and lentils. Peanuts and tree nuts are similar in their taste and nutritional profile as they’re all rich in healthy unsaturated fats and fiber. “Peanut butter has healthy fats and protein that are good for your dog,” says veterinarian Dr. Amber Karwacki of Heart + Paw Veterinary.
Roasted peanuts contain 22 percent more antioxidants than uncooked peanuts.
Peanut butter packs vitamin E and cholesterol-regulating monounsaturated fats.
The vitamins in peanut butter, such as vitamins H and K, give dogs a shiny coat.
Peanut butter is cholesterol-free.
It is full of iron and calcium, which are essential for healthy, strong bones.
PB packs plenty of protein, 8 g of protein per 2-tablespoon serving.
There are plenty of ways to use peanut butter safely with your dog.
Alleviate boredom and give your dog plenty of mental exercise with a peanut butter stuffed frozen Kong or a licking mat slathered in peanut butter. These mentally stimulating toys can help reduce behavioral issues like barking, destructive chewing and can soothe separation anxiety and reduce stress.
You won’t need to worry about your dog rejecting their meds if you add a little Peanut Butter. Because peanut butter is a high-value treat, most dogs will gobble up the peanut butter covered pill straight away—though they might get a little messy.
For leash training, peanut butter can be an easy way to treat your dog. As you walk with your dog, reward them with a few licks off of a peanut butter coated spoon.
Distract from Nail Trims
Don’t forget about grooming. Most dogs aren’t fans of getting their nails trimmed, but a lick of peanut butter between each trim might just be the reward they need to get excited about it. Dr. Karwacki adds, “if your dog is reluctant to stay still for nail trims or bath time, a peanut butter smear on the wall or floor can be a helpful distraction.”
How Much Peanut Butter Should Your Dog Eat?
Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fat for your dog—in moderation. As with any treat, especially those high in calories, be careful not to overindulge. Peanut butter contains around 80-100 calories per tablespoon, which quickly adds up. Generally, treats should account for less than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
Dr. Karwacki advises that smaller dogs should have no more than ½-1 tablespoon a day while larger dogs can have up to 1-2 tablespoons a day.
“When first giving peanut butter, give a small amount to make sure there are no reactions or upset tummies. Dogs that have pancreatitis should not eat peanut butter due to its high-fat content.” Pups who are overweight or have the following health issues might want to stay away from this treat:
Safe Peanut Butter for Dogs
While peanut butter is generally safe for pups, some peanut butter contains a toxic ingredient that should be avoided. Safe peanut butter for dogs shouldn't have xylitol or too many added sugars. Here are a few things to watch out for:
Check your peanut butter label for the artificial sweetener because xylitol is highly toxic to dogs. You’ll find this sweetener in sugar-free foods, chewing gum, and baked goods. The bad news? Certain brands of peanut butter have been found to include xylitol. Even small amounts can result in a life-threatening drop in blood sugar or liver failure when ingested.
Many store-bought peanut butter contains preservatives and high sugar levels that aren’t necessary for dogs. While sugar isn’t toxic to dogs, it isn’t good for them either. Look for organic peanut butter brands with simple ingredients—ideally just peanuts. One way to ensure you’re giving your pup the healthy stuff is to make your own peanut butter at home (it’s super easy with this homemade peanut butter recipe.)
To keep your dog safe and enjoy the many benefits of peanut butter, just remember to give in moderation and make sure xylitol isn’t one of the ingredients. As always, before introducing any new food, consult your veterinarian with any questions or concerns.
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Daniela Lopez is a digital media specialist and long-time contributor to The Bark.