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by Dr. Fiona Lee, DVM

Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?

In a pinch, peanut butter can be an extremely useful tool when working with your dog. From disguising medications, to combatting boredom when frozen in a Kong toy, peanut butter is great to have around. A thin smear of peanut butter on a vertical surface can really help dogs stand still while you are trimming their nails or grooming them as well! In this article, we’ll explore whether or not peanut butter is safe for dogs, and things to consider before reaching for the jar.

In short, peanuts and peanut butter are perfectly safe for dogs. In fact, almost all nut butters are safe. Dogs cannot have macadamia nuts, but almond butter and hazelnut butter are perfectly fine. The problem occurs when other ingredients are added to the nuts, such as chocolate (no Nutella!) or xylitol.

The Dangers of Xylitol
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is often used in ‘low calorie’ or ‘diet’ peanut butters. Xylitol sweetens without adding calories from sugar. It is safe in humans, but extremely toxic to dogs. When consumed, xylitol can cause life-threatening hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. This can happen within hours of ingestion. In addition, xylitol toxicity can lead to liver failure over the course of days, which left untreated can lead to death in dogs.

How Much Peanut Butter Can a Dog Eat?
Another potential issue with peanut butter is the amount of calories in a serving. A typical human sized serving of peanut butter is just 2 tablespoons and packs a whopping 190 calories! Obesity is a huge problem in our pets, with the American Veterinary Medical Association estimating about 57% of US pets are overweight ( When you consider the average 30-pound dog needs between 300 and 500 calories per day, 190 calories in just peanut butter is a very large percent of that total caloric need.

Obesity has been linked to a whole host of comorbidities, including osteoarthritis, endocrine diseases and premature death. Ensuring your dog stays lean is probably the number one most important thing you can do to keep them healthy, along with regular exercise and a good quality diet.

Alternatives to Peanut Butter
When it comes to combatting boredom, using frozen canned food smeared in the Kong toy or even chicken broth frozen in the Kong toy is a better low calorie treat versus fattening peanut butter. Even freezing watered down canned food into ice cubes is a better waist-line friendly treat. Remember that boredom can also be curbed with non-food items. Puzzles, toys, and plenty of outdoor exercise are other healthier ways to keep boredom at bay.

Alternatives to Using Peanut Butter to Help Your Dog Take Medicine
When trying to hide pills and tablets, there are plenty of alternatives to peanut butter when it comes to disguising. Pill Pockets or similar soft treats are designed to coat pills and make them easier to swallow. Mini marshmallows work well too! Just poke a hole in the end and insert the medication. A small spoonful of canned food can also make medication a little friendlier to get down and will contain much less calories than peanut butter.

What to Avoid in Peanut Butter for Your Dog
So the next time you reach for peanut butter, always read the label to ensure there is no xylitol in it before you give it to your four-legged friend. Avoid peanut butter brands with words like ‘low fat’ or ‘diet’ on the label, as these especially are more likely to contain toxic xylitol sweeteners in them. And consider calories! If your pet is already on the heavy side, or is a breed that is predisposed to obesity, adding peanut butter as a regular treat can really lead to Fido packing on the pounds.