Did you walk out of the room for a moment, only to come back and discover that your dog ate your peanut butter sandwiches you were planning to have for lunch? Or did you drop a couple of peanuts on the floor that your vacuum cleaner of a dog gulped down before you could stop him?
The good news is that it isn’t generally a problem, as natural peanuts and natural peanut butter is non-toxic for dogs and can even be beneficial! This does not apply for all presentations of peanuts, however, and we are going to have a look at what types of peanuts our dogs can eat, and which kind to stay away from.
Dogs & Peanuts
As we have already established, there is nothing about a natural peanut that should cause you concern for your dog’s health. It is not like with chocolate, for example, which is extremely toxic to dogs, and it can be a healthy and much appreciated treat if fed right! Many dogs will easily choose peanut butter over any other available treat, and can you blame them?
Peanut butter is one of the most popular sandwiches spreads among humans, and there are tons of dog treats using peanut butter as an ingredient! It is no surprise that it could also be an instant favorite when fed on its own!
Whole natural peanuts might also interest your dog and giving your fur friend a few (provided it is a natural peanut without coating or salt) shouldn’t present an issue. Due to the small size of them, though, dogs might swallow them whole instead of chewing them, which means they probably won’t enjoy the flavor as much as they would be if licking peanut butter off a spoon or a toy. The bottom line is – peanuts are not dangerous for dogs and can be fed in moderation.
Peanuts are packed with vitamins like B6 and E, they have healthy fats which is essential for both dogs and humans, and other essentials like protein, folate, thiamine, phosphorous and niacin.
If fed in the right amount, they could potentially improve coat quality, promote a healthy heart, improve eyesight and much more. Peanuts are believed to have the same health benefits in dogs as they do in humans, provided they are not fed in excess.
It is important to remember that most nutrients should be received from the dog’s everyday diet and that you shouldn’t have to look for additional sources of vitamins and minerals. Healthy snacks are great, but make sure snacks don’t take up more than a total of 10% of the daily food intake.
While healthy fats are great, too much fat is never good. If you feed too many peanuts your dog might start packing on weight, and everyone knows that excess weight in dogs could significantly lower their life quality and possibly also shorten their lives.
Obesity is also known to put additional strain on bones and joints, which could eventually lead to arthritis and bone- and joint pain. Moderate your dog’s peanut intake to prevent the nutritional benefits from being swapped for potentially serious health risks.
The choking hazard is something else you want to look out for when giving peanuts to your dogs. Always remove the shells, as these are also known to cause dietary concerns, and don’t let your pup gobble down peanuts too fast.
Take special precaution with small dogs, especially if they tend to swallow their food without chewing because while choking on peanuts is unlikely – it could happen.
There is also a risk of a dog having a peanut allergy, and if you notice any changes in the dog’s behavior after letting it have peanuts or peanut butter – be vigilant. Signs could be itchy skin or bald patches, but it could also be something else. Call a veterinarian if you are unsure or if you notice anything strange, as it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Different Types of Peanuts
While peanuts have the word “nuts” in the name, they are – surprisingly – completely unrelated to other tree nuts. In fact, peanuts aren’t nuts at all, but instead, a legume originating from South America, which makes it more closely related to lentils and black beans than to other actual nuts. While there is only one type of peanut, us humans tend to consume them in a variety of ways.
There are roasted peanuts, salted peanuts, peanuts with chili powder, peanuts covered with chocolate and ground peanuts – peanut butter – so the question is if all peanut butter varieties are equally good for dogs? The quick and simple answer is no, it is not, and you should avoid giving your dog peanuts covered with something else, as they are usually not healthy.
Chocolate, for example, is toxic for dogs, and many oils and other condiments can cause dietary issues. Salted peanuts should also be avoided if possible, as too much salt could cause additional issues (especially if your dog suffers from kidney problems, liver disease or a heart condition).
To make things simple – natural peanuts is what you should aim for whenever feeding peanuts to a dog, and the closer to natural- and unprocessed peanuts you can get, the better it is.
How to Feed Peanuts
As mentioned above, just feeding whole peanuts to your dog might not do much for them, but peanut butter is usually a great treat! You can use it to encourage your dog to eat healthy treats like carrot sticks and celery, by spreading a thin layer of PB on the stick before handing it over to your dog.
Dogs should not eat too many peanuts or peanut butter, so it is smart to add a small amount to something healthier (as peanuts have a lot of calories), like vegetables or fruit.
Kong toys and other activity toys are also perfect when you want your dog to get to try some peanuts, and you can fill it with treats and seal it with a chunk of peanut butter! If you want to make the game a little more challenging – freeze the toy, as frozen peanut butter gets less messy and takes longer to eat. It is a great tip for people with active dogs, as it will give the dog something to play with for hours.
If your dog has shown a liking for natural raw peanuts, you can also consider adding a few to their food, especially if they are a little picky with eating, as it could help convince them to finish their dog food. You can also make a game out of it and teach your dog to catch peanuts in the air (just remember to remove the shell), but don’t throw too many as they are very rich in fat.
Quantities – How Much is Too Much?
Use peanuts as a small snack, nothing more, and adapt the quantity to the size of your dog. Small dogs should have significantly less than a large dog (just compare the size of a Chihuahua stomach with that of the stomach of a Great Dane, and you will understand why), and it – along with other treats – should never make up more than 10% of the daily food intake. Use common sense when you give peanuts or other snacks, as it is not good for a dog to get too much of anything.
Before you give your dog peanut butter, check the ingredient list to make sure the product does not contain anything other than natural peanuts. Some peanut butter brands contain xylitol, which is toxic for dogs, so that is something you don’t want to have in your dog’s new snack.
Pick out a product that is all-natural and unsalted (the ingredient list should list as few ingredients as possible – preferably only peanuts), because while it might not be your favorite peanut butter brand – it is the kind that is safe and healthy for our dogs.
Out of all the foods you could give your dog, peanuts are far from the worst! They could come with certain health benefits if fed in reasonable amounts and provided you make sure you purchase natural and untreated peanuts, or peanut butter without xylitol, salt or other additives.
We are responsible for the health of our dogs and for what we choose to let them eat, and peanuts do not present any danger to your furry friend! As with everything – moderate how many peanuts you give to your dog and stay vigilant of any negative side effects.