So your naughty Lab has raided the pantry and helped themselves to a tasty jar of peanut butter!
You probably know that dogs like peanut butter and may have given your dog a lick of some occasionally. But what happens if a dog eats too much peanut butter? Like half a jar full!
Is peanut butter harmful? Should you be worried?
In many cases your dog will be just fine BUT – and it’s a big but – some brands of peanut butter contain an artificial sweetener called Xylitol. And Xylitol is toxic to dogs.
So, you need to grab that jar, and run down the list of ingredients. Make sure that Xylitol is not on that list. And for good measure, Google the brand and double check.
What Does Xylitol Do To Dogs
Although xylitol is fine for humans to eat, it is toxic to dogs. Xylitol stimulates the release of insulin.
In small amounts, this causes hypoglycemia in dogs. But in larger amounts, xylitol can cause liver failure.
This is a very serious issue that can lead to haemorrhage, chronic bleeding disorders, and even death.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Peanut Butter with Xylitol
If your dog has eaten peanut butter that contains xylitol, you need to get them veterinary help as quickly as possible.
If your regular vet is not open, go straight to an emergency clinic. Try to give your vet as much information as possible, including how much xylitol your dog has consumed, how quickly, any other medication they are on, and more.
Symptoms of xylitol consumption and poisoning include:
If you act fast enough, your dog can survive xylitol poisoning. But, it’s important to take them to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible.
How Much Is Too Much?
The amount of xylitol needed to cause harm depends on the size of your dog, their health, and a number of other factors. So, it’s best not to risk it at all. Avoid any peanut butter that contains this ingredient. It isn’t just peanut butter that can contain xylitol. In fact, it’s a common sweetener used in many products.
To be on the safe side, you can either check the ingredient list of every peanut butter you buy, or you could consider making your own dog-safe nut butter. It’s worth checking before you buy, even if a certain brand has been xylitol free in the past. There’s no guarantee that a brand won’t change their recipe with no warning!
Peanut Butter Without Xylitol
Many dogs enjoy eating peanut butter. As long as your dog isn’t allergic to peanuts, some xylitol-free Peanut butter can be a great occasional treat. In fact, some people use it to make stressful processes like nail clipping easier. Likewise, studies have suggested that treats like peanut butter could be a good way to improve handling of dogs in clinics and practices.
As long as you choose a safe brand of peanut butter that doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients, peanut butter can make a great, tasty treat for your dog. And it’s likely one that your pooch will adore! In fact, it can also make a great Kong toy filler. Especially since the sticky texture means it takes a little longer for dogs to eat it all.
Is Peanut Butter Good for My Dog?
So can dogs eat peanut butter with any health benefits? Peanut butter is a great source of beneficial proteins and fats, such as oleic acid. And, there are a number of health benefits it can provide – especially for humans. But, that doesn’t mean that these benefits naturally transfer to our dogs, too. In some cases, peanut butter can contain ingredients that actively harm our dogs.
Peanut butter alone doesn’t provide balanced nutrition for our dogs. It can be a tasty, popular treat. But it shouldn’t be given as a main part of your dog’s diet. And, since it is high in fats, it’s best to only offer it as an occasional treat. There are plenty of other safe, healthy snacks that you can offer instead.
What Happens If A Dog Eats Too Much Peanut Butter
As a one off event, and provided there isn’t any Xylitol in the peanut butter, a dog that eats too much is likely to suffer nothing worse than an upset stomach.
There are a few ways that even xylitol free peanut butter can be bad for our dogs, even as a snack. Firstly, it is high in calories.
So, too much peanut butter can lead to weight gain and obesity, if you let your dog overdo things on a regular basis. Obesity is a growing issue in dogs, and is linked to further health problems. Such as an increased risk of osteoarthritis.
On top of this, peanut butter (like other nuts and nut products) is high in oil and fats. Whilst dogs do need more fat in their diet than we do, too much in one sitting can lead to stomach upsets. And over the long term it can put them at higher risk of pancreatitis.
In very small amounts, as an occasional treat, it’s unlikely that peanut butter will harm your dog. As long as you’ve chosen a brand with a dog-safe recipe.
Is Peanut Butter Safe for Dogs?
If your dog is not allergic to peanuts, many brands of peanut butter are perfectly safe for dogs in small amounts.
But remember, some peanut butter brands add the artificial sweetener xylitol to their If your dog has eaten peanut butter that contains xylitol, you need to get veterinary help fast
Can Dogs Eat Crunchy Peanut Butter?
Crunchy peanut butter is simply peanut butter with whole peanuts in. Can dogs eat peanut butter made this way? As long as it contains no xylitol, it should be safe to eat. But, it’s possible that the whole peanuts could be a choking hazard for your dog. So, it may be safest to stick with smooth peanut butter. As long as this, too, is xylitol free.
Be aware that both crunchy peanut butter and smooth peanut butter will present the same risks in terms of high fat and oil levels. So, your dog should never eat too much in one sitting. And, it should never be a large part of their diet.
Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter and Jelly?
Peanut butter and jelly is a popular pairing for sandwiches and other treats. As long as neither the peanut butter or the jelly contain xylitol, this filling won’t be toxic to your dog. But, it is not a healthy combination.
Not only is it high in calories, as we have already learned, but it will be very high in sugar. If your dog eats too much they could have an upset stomach. And, too many sugary foods too frequently can lead to obesity, as we mentioned earlier.
How Much Peanut Butter Can Dogs Have?
So, if peanut butter is only safe for our dogs in small amounts, how much is the right amount for our dogs to have? It will depend on the size of your dog. But, ideally, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s diet. And, even then, peanut butter shouldn’t be the only treat that you offer.
Most owners like to save peanut butter for a time when it can be useful. Such as when giving their dog some medication they don’t enjoy, or to distract them whilst clipping their nails.
One to Two Teaspoons is Enough
When offering your dog peanut butter, stick to one or two teaspoons depending on the size of your dog. Peanut butter is sticky, so it will often take longer than you expect for your dog to finish eating it. And, it is very high in calories. So, a little will be a surprisingly large amount of your dog’s daily calorie allowance.
If in doubt, speak to your veterinarian about what the right amount of peanut butter is for your dog. Plus, if it is their first time eating it, watch your dog’s reaction closely to ensure they are not allergic.
Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter? A Summary
So, most dogs can eat peanut butter in small amounts with no dire consequences. But, you must make sure you are not offering peanut butter that contains xylitol. Peanut butter with xylitol will impact your dog’s blood sugar, and could have fatal consequences. Check the ingredients on every jar you buy and look for 100% peanuts with no added ingredients.
Is peanut butter one of your dog’s favorite treats? Let us know your favorite ways to serve it up in the comments!
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References and Resources
- DuHadway, M. (et al), ‘Retrospective Evaluation of Xylitol Ingestion in Dogs: 192 Cases (2007 – 2012)‘, Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (2015)
- Murphy, L. A. & Dunayer, E. K. ‘Xylitol Toxicosis in Dogs: An Update’, The Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice (2018)
- Sapowicz, S. (et al), ‘Body Condition Scores and Evaluation of Feeding Habits of Dogs and Cats at a Low Cost Veterinary Clinic and a General Practice’, The Scientific World Journal (2016)
- Hedges, S. ‘Tips for Reducing Risk and Improving Welfare when Handling Dogs in Practice’, In Practice (2020)
- Cortinovis, C. & Caloni, F. ‘Household Food Items Toxic to Dogs and Cats’, Frontiers in Veterinary Science (2016)
- Bates, N. ‘Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs’, Companion Animal (2019)
- Robertson, N. (et al), ‘Risks of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs’, The Veterinary Record (2019)
- Gunnars, C. (et al), ‘Is Peanut Butter Good or Bad for your Health?’, Healthline (2021)
- Heuberger, R. & Wakshlag, J. ‘The Relationship of Feeding Patterns and Obesity in Dogs’, Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition (2011)
- ‘People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets’, ASPCA
- Idowu, O. & Heading, K. ‘Hypoglycemia in Dogs: Causes, Management, and Diagnosis’, The Canadian Veterinary Journal (2018)
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website