Is it safe and healthy to feed my dog peanut butter?
Q&A with Dr. Erika Sullivan, Because Animal’s Chief Veterinary Officer.
Q: Is it safe and healthy to feed my dog peanut butter?
A: I recommend it all the time.
Dogs resemble humans in terms of digestion and constitution. We are both omnivores that have digestive enzymes that make it very capable for us to live well on a plant-based diet, but we also have enzymes to break down meat.
We so often relate dogs to wolves, but it’s been proven that dogs’ digestive enzymes are quite different from wolves having been domesticated for tens of thousands of years. Dogs have adapted to having digestive enzymes that break down more carbohydrates and plant-based proteins.
All of which is to say, peanuts are completely fine for dogs. In fact, I probably recommend peanut butter every day from both a nutritional and a behavioural standpoint.
Peanut butter is a great addition to dog treats - it makes healthy, fatty, high protein treats that also taste good.
Peanut butter treats appeal to dogs the same way they do to us - they smell good when they’re baked, and they are a source of fat and protein.
Dogs and cats actually require higher amounts of fat in their diet than humans do, making peanut butter and other foods high in healthy fats all the more important for our pets.
But, unlike humans, we don’t see peanut allergies in dogs. So many people feed their dogs peanut butter and I’ve never, in 15 years of practice, seen a dog have an allergic reaction from peanut butter. There are however some nuts we do see problems with such as macadamia nuts.
I often recommend that people put peanut butter in Kong toys, those rubber beehive-shaped toys dogs can chew on that are indestructible. Smear a bit of peanut butter in the hollow center and you have a great way to keep your dog chewing on something they can’t destroy or swallow and that will keep them distracted and amused.
Peanut Butter Facts, Dos and Don’ts
Peanut Butter is a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamin B, vitamin E, minerals and fiber. Healthy fats have been shown to increase "good" cholesterol and decrease "bad" cholesterol.
It’s best to feed your dog raw, unsalted, sugar-free peanut butter.
The peanut butter must not contain xylitol, which is deadly for dogs.
You can use peanut butter to hide pills, keep your dog distracted and amused when put inside a Kong toy and as a healthy treat.
Remember, treats are treats and so stick to the 10% rule: Treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s diet.
Dr. Erika, also known as The Globetrotting Veterinarian, graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College, where she led a successful campaign to end the euthanasia of animals used in surgical training. Erika makes routine visits to Thailand where she treats disabled elephants; leads a yearly spay-neuter clinic in India; and is a PADI Open Water Scuba Diving Instructor, which allows her to better promote the protection of marine life. She currently lives in Adelaide, Australia, where she works at a vet clinic that sees tropical birds as some of her patients, a few of which she brings home!