Peanut butter is a popular treat among dog owners. And even your dogs seem to love it a lot, don’t they? But, is it actually safe to let your pooch lick a spoonful of peanut butter? Can dogs really have peanut butter without any side effects? In a word, yes. Dogs can have peanut butter, however, there are certain ingredients in peanut butter that can turn out to be lethal for your dog.
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What is Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter is the food paste or spread of ground peanuts. It usually contains added ingredients to modify its taste or texture, like salt, sweeteners, or emulsifiers. Popularly served on most breakfast dishes, it has become a staple in American snacks. Peanut butter comes in two types: crunchy/chunky and smooth/creamy. Whether you prefer some coarsely-ground peanut fragments in your spread (crunchy) or want all of it uniformly ground (smooth) is totally up to you.
Peanut butter sandwiches have become popular across the globe. According to the American Society of Agronomy, Americans spend about $800 million annually on peanut butter. It is also famous as pet food. Hollow chew toys filled with peanut butter are a popular method to keep your dog occupied. Outdoor bird feeders also usually contain pine cones coated in peanut butter with a layer of birdseed above.
Nutritional Value of Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a good source of Vitamin E, niacin, and Vitamin B6, and is also high in manganese, magnesium, and other dietary minerals.
According to the USDA FoodData Central, 100 g of peanut butter contains:
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)||13.112 mg|
|Folate (Vitamin B9)||87 µg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.441 mg|
Can Dogs Have Peanut Butter?
For the most part, yes. Dogs can have peanut butter. Most brands of peanut butter are safe for dogs and can be excellent sources of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and niacin. Feeding them peanut butter is also a very efficient way to distract your dog when giving them a bath or trimming their nails. If you have trouble feeding your dog pills, coating pills in peanut butter is a great way to prevent all the whining. Dogs love an occasional peanut butter treat too.
However, too much of anything is never good. Peanut butter contains certain ingredients that can be harmful to your dog, and people tend to be unaware of this. Too much peanut butter can lead to several health complications and as a dog owner, it’s high time you learned about this.
How is Peanut Butter Bad for Dogs?
Although popular as a treat, peanut butter can still be bad for your dog because there are certain components used in the production of the spread that raises a cause for concern. For instance, Aspergillus flavus, a mold found on certain food products like corn, peanuts, and peanut butter, produces a naturally occurring toxic metabolite known as Aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a natural carcinogen or cancer-inducing substance. Chronic exposure to aflatoxin affects many organs, especially the liver, in both humans and animals.
However, one of the biggest concerns with feeding your dog peanut butter is xylitol poisoning.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a naturally occurring alcohol found in most plant products, including fruits and vegetables. It is also called Birch Sugar as it is extracted from birch wood. It is used in chewing gums and oral care products to prevent tooth decay and dry mouth. Similarly, it has other medical uses, like preventing middle ear infection in young children and nasal irrigation (sinus flush), among others.
Xylitol is also a common sugar-replacement for diabetic people and is used as a sweetener in many products. Recently, some peanut butter manufacturers have started using Xylitol in their products. Should this worry you? Not for yourself. But for your dog, yes.
What is Xylitol Poisoning?
Xylitol is safe for human consumption but it’s toxic to dogs. Xylitol poisoning causes a rapid release of insulin in them, dropping their blood sugar levels very quickly. Within 10 to 60 minutes of consuming xylitol, your pooch can suffer from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Untreated, this condition can be life-threatening. Even small doses can cause your dog to fall gravely ill. According to The Parc Vet, 0.1 gm of xylitol per 2.2 pounds of body weight is enough to cause hypoglycemia, while 0.5 gm can cause liver failure.
Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning
If your dog has eaten products containing xylitol, like chewing gums, breath mints, certain baked goods, toothpaste, mouth wash, sugar-free desserts, etc., they may show symptoms like:
- Decreased activity level
- Lack of coordination
- Collapse, among others
If you suspect your dog has consumed xylitol or if your pup starts showing these symptoms, take them to the vet or call the animal poison control center immediately. Some symptoms may not be observable for up to 12 to 24 hours, so be careful of what your buddy chomps down.
Things to Be Careful About
To avoid xylitol poisoning in your dog, remember to be careful about the following:
- Always check for xylitol in the ingredients of products. This is especially true for sugar-free or low sugar items.
- Any product that does contain xylitol must be safely kept away in places your dog cannot reach. Exercise further caution if your pup can go through your counters.
- Only use a vet-approved pet toothpaste
- If you use any kind of nut butter as a treat or a distraction, ensure it is xylitol-free.
Although easy to avoid, xylitol poisoning is quite common. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received several reports of dogs being poisoned by xylitol, many of which were the results of chewing gum. Most of xylitol poisoning is caused by sugar-free ice-cream. To ensure your dog doesn’t get added to the reports, make sure to keep any xylitol-containing product away from them.
So, Can Dogs Have Peanut Butter? Without a doubt. Peanut butter has remained a popular treat for dogs and will probably stay this way forever. What you do need to be careful of is the amount of peanut butter your dog ingests, and if the peanut butter you are feeding them contains xylitol. Remember, moderation is always the key. For more articles like this one, visit our website.