Let’s talk about one of our favorite snacks in the United States and in many other parts of the world; one you can use for almost anything, and that has numerous health benefits! What, something that is both tasty and nutritious? What could it be?
Peanut butter – we are going to talk about peanut butter, and we are going to investigate whether it is safe for dogs to eat peanut butter and if dogs can benefit from eating peanut butter the same way humans can.
There are so many human foods that are toxic or dangerous to dogs, but peanut butter is not one of them. It is, however, important to choose the right kind of peanut butter and to know how much it is okay to give your dog.
Peanut Butter – What Is It?
The United States is currently listed as the leading country when it comes to peanut butter export, and the people in the U.S. consume somewhere around Peanut Butter to the value of 8 million dollars every year.
It is a massive industry, and it is used as a sandwich spread, as an ice cream topping, in baked goods, as a healthier alternative to frosting and more. You can use it almost for anything, but let’s dig in and see what Peanut Butter really is.
It is a food paste made by dry-roasted peanuts; Peanut butter may or may not contain added oils, salt, sugar, and other sweeteners, but there are also natural alternatives with little to no additives.
Peanut butter is commonly associated with the famous Peanut butter & Jelly sandwich, and you can also find other nut butter like Almond butter and Cashew butter, though peanut butter remains the most popular.
The peanut is not really a nut, but a legume, and it comes from a plant with small yellow flowers. In most cases, peanuts are harvested sometime during the period of August to October, after having been planted in the spring.
The peanuts are then carefully picked from the vines on which they grow, shipped off to be shelled and dried, and are then exposed to a dry roasting process. Once all this is done, the checked and inspected peanuts can be ground down, prepared, packed and sold as what we know as peanut butter.
Dogs & Peanut Butter
Most dogs go crazy for some peanut butter, and if you have ever let your pup lick on a spoon with PB – you’ve seen how their eyes almost pop out of their head. Humans love it, dogs love it, so now the question is – can dogs eat peanut butter and is it safe for them?
The good news is yes, they can, but you should make sure to pick a natural peanut butter without added sugar and more, and especially if you plan to use it regularly as a treat. Ingredients added to some peanut butter brands could potentially be harmful, such as Xylitol, but more on that in a few moments.
Dogs all over the world enjoy peanut butter as a treat or a reward for good behavior, and many choose to use it with activation toys and food puzzles, to add to the fun. If your dog has snatched a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the table, or if you caught them licking the inside of the left-out jar – don’t worry, as it is unlikely it will harm your dog or cause problems. In fact, it can be a great treat, as it has many health benefits in comparison to rawhide and other less recommendable dog treats.
Now that we have established that peanut butter is both safe and healthy for dogs (when used in moderation), it is time to check out some of the health benefits that come with eating this delicious peanut spread.
It is not just humans that could benefit from the vitamins and minerals found in PB, so here are some of the good things about letting your pup have the occasional taste:
Vitamin E – Peanut butter is a good source of vitamin E, which is known to strengthen the immune system, boost heart health, protect the nerve cell membranes, help build lean muscle and aid with liver protection, and it can also have a positive effect on a dog’s skin and coat.
Biotin – This vitamin helps dogs build lean and strong muscle, it prevents skin irritation (which is beneficial for dogs with skin allergies) and helps bring back that shine in your dog’s coat. It can also strengthen nails and prevent them from splitting, which will spare your dog both pain and suffering.
Magnesium – The reason why you will almost always find magnesium in foods that contain vitamin B, is because it helps the cells in the canine body metabolize B complex vitamins.
Folate – Folate is also known as folic acid, and it aids the replication- and the regrowth ability of the cells in the canine body.
Fiber – All dogs need fiber in their diet, and fiber helps improve the metabolism and the digestion. For dogs that easily get an upset stomach or that suffer from frequent diarrhea, fiber could be the ideal solution.
Protein – Most people associate protein with meat, but peanut butter also contains a smaller (yet significant) amount. Protein is what gives your dog energy, and it will help keep your fur friend active and happy throughout the day.
It is important to remember that dogs should be getting all of this through their regular dog food, and if they are being fed a quality kibble or wet food – additional nutrients may not be necessary. Don’t rely on snacks and treats to provide your pup with essential nutrients and think of it simply as something extra.
There is a lot of healthy fats in peanut butter, but even healthy fats are bad for dogs if they eat too much of it. Eating too much peanut butter could lead to weight gain, which in turn opens the door to numerous health issues such as diabetes, joint pain, and cardiac issues.
Always moderate how much peanut butter you feed your dog and take your dog’s weight into consideration. A Chihuahua cannot be given the same amount as a Great Dane, for obvious reasons, so use common sense whenever you open the lid to that peanut butter jar.
Keep in mind that peanut butter is very sticky and that your dog should always have access to clean and fresh water, and especially when fed treats that could stick to the inside of their throat.
Best Ways to Give Peanut Butter to a Dog
Why not do a doggy version of ants on a log? Dogs should not eat raisins, as they are highly toxic for canines, but you could replace the raisins with dog treats! Chop celery into conveniently sized celery sticks spread a thin layer of peanut butter on top and place your pup’s favorite treats along with the stick. Your dog is going to go bananas for this healthy and delicious snack, and it is suitable also for dogs on a diet due to the low-calorie content of the celery.
If your dog likes activity toys, and if you have a KONG or similar – use it by stuffing it with peanut butter! You can fill a smaller KONG only with peanut butter, but if you have one of the bigger sizes it might become a little overwhelming.
Consider stuffing it with all your dog’s favorite treats and plugging the openings with a chunk of PB! If you want to make it more of a challenge for your pup – stick it in the freezer overnight for the peanut butter to harden. It will take a lot longer to get the content out, and your pooch will stay entertained for hours.
Here is a third way to give your pup peanut butter, and a clever trick if you want to take hilarious photos of your furry friend! Take a spoon, dip it in peanut butter, hold the spoon up in front of your dog with your cellphone or your camera ready. Take photos from behind the spoon as your pooch devours the PB, and we guarantee you’ll be ending up with the funniest photos you’ve ever taken.
Watch out for Xylitol
Peanut butter is a great treat for dogs, but you need to read through the ingredients to make sure it does not contain Xylitol. Xylitol is found in some peanut butter brands (especially lower quality brands), and it is unfortunately toxic to dogs.
It may not be dangerous in smaller amounts, but if you feed it regularly you could unknowingly be poisoning your dog. The ingredient list should preferably contain as few ingredients as possible, but the one thing that is always a no-no is Xylitol.
When used right, peanut butter is a delicious and fun treat for your dog, that you can use in a variety of ways! Moderate how much PB you give your dog and watch out for any signs of sensitivities or allergies because while peanut butter is considered safe for canines – all dogs are different and some may do better with another treat.