Can Dogs Have Peanut Butter?
According to pop culture, the only two things that go together better than peanut butter and jelly are peanut butter and dogs. Many pet food brands offer peanut butter flavoring in their top-selling treats, and almost every dog owner has heard that the best gift you can give your pooch is a Kong stuffed with creamy, gooey peanut butter. But in the age of the Internet, many of us have learned the hard way that pop culture isn’t always infallible when it comes to nutrition, fashion trends, parenting, or pet-owning. So what’s the truth about peanut butter?
Does the cliché of the happy, peanut butter-licking puppy exist for a reason, or have we been slowly poisoning our pets every time we use this nutty treat to conceal less than delicious medications?
Can you give your dog peanut butter?
Pet owners of the world rejoice; dogs CAN eat peanut butter! Peanuts are not at all poisonous for our canine companions. Though the whole nuts may pose a choking hazard, once they have been ground into the delicious nut butter we love to spread on sandwiches, they are magically transformed into an excellent treat. Just remember to keep an eye on how much you are feeding your pet! Though peanut butter is safe for our furry friends, it is also very calorically dense and high in fat, which means that moderation is important.
That being said, high in calories does not mean unhealthy. Unlike many of our favorite fattening junk foods, peanut butter is calorically dense for a good reason: it is loaded with the protein and healthy fats that active bodies need to grow, heal, and thrive.
One of the most important nutrients found in peanut butter is Vitamin E, which many dog foods do not contain enough of. Vitamin E is a key part of any healthy doggy diet plan. It plays an important role in supporting and regulating the immune system, which means your dog is less likely to suffer from colds, infections, and chronic inflammation. It may also help prevent other chronic, life-threatening conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers, because it combats dangerous free radicals. Free radicals are one of the biggest causes of the cell damage that creates cancer cells. Fewer free radicals mean fewer damaged cells, which means a decreased risk of cancer.
The Vitamin E found in peanut butter is also important for skin, joint, and muscle health. Since this antioxidant does such an excellent job at preventing cell damage, it helps maintain the elasticity of muscle and connective tissues. Vitamin E can help prevent joint and muscle stiffness, reduce itchy skin and dandruff, and provide your dog with the silky, luxurious coat you love to pet. Your dog’s locks will be the envy of the dog park.
Vitamin E’s anti-inflammatory properties may also reduce the pain and inflammation that comes with arthritis and injury—in some cases, Vitamin E may even help boost an arthritic dog’s mobility.
The vitamins and heart-healthy fats in peanut butter are good for your dog’s cardiovascular system, too. The balance of fats in this creamy treat may help lower the ‘bad’ cholesterol that causes heart disease while increasing the ‘good’ cholesterol that combats it. Natural, unsalted peanut butter also boasts a fabulous potassium-to-sodium ratio, which means it can help counter the negative effects of eating too much salt. Potassium lowers blood pressure, supports whole-body health, and helps regulate the balance of electrolytes and fluids in your dog’s body. While it does not have enough potassium to meet all of your dog’s needs, peanut butter can go a long way in helping to boost their intake.
Things to Keep in Mind
The most important consideration in feeding your dog peanut butter is this: make sure you opt for natural brands with very few ingredients. Many brands of sweetened peanut butter now contain xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs. Even a relatively small amount of xylitol can cause your dog’s blood sugar to plummet, which can lead to disorientation, fatigue, clumsiness, physical weakness, seizures, coma, and even death. Xylitol also does severe damage to your dog’s liver cells, which is often deadly. You can avoid this sweetener by buying peanut butter with one ingredient: peanuts.
Though peanut butter is a health, nutrient-dense food, it is one that your dog should consume in moderation. Peanut butter’s high fat and calorie content means that it’s easy to overindulge, which can lead to pancreatitis, obesity, and obesity-related health problems. So remember that creamy, unsweetened peanut butter should serve mostly as a treat! Feel free to stuff it inside dog toys, use it to hide medications, or dangle it over your canine companion’s head when trying to teach them how to play dead. Your dog loves this creamy, decadent, heart-healthy nut butter just as much as you do.