There are a whole range of different human foods that, while not specifically designed for dogs, can still be given to them, either because they are both safe and potentially beneficial, or because they can make for a tasty treat in small quantities without affecting your dog’s health. Peanut butter is one of the products that falls into the latter category, being something that is not specifically designed for dogs and that should not be given to them in excess, but that when given sparingly, can make for a desirable, high value reward, be a good stuffing for a Kong toy, and provide an additional source of protein and calories for dogs that are underweight.
Dogs are not prone to suffering from nut allergies like many people are, and while there is the odd exception to the rule, most dogs can eat small quantities of peanut butter regularly with no ill effects. Care should of course be taken with dogs that are apt to scavenge and beg, like the Golden retriever, to ensure that they do not end up consuming more than you initially intended them to!
However, as human food manufacturers continually look for ways to make their products appealing to wider audiences, and seek ways to either sell more of their products or reduce the cost of producing them, the ingredients and make-up of some processed foods such as peanut butter are apt to change from time to time, and this is something that all dog owners should be aware of where peanut butter is concerned.
While peanut butter is traditionally made with peanut oil and sometimes sugar as well as the nuts themselves, the formulation of certain well-known brands have diverged a long way from this, with some brands replacing the nut oil with cheaper palm oil, and in some cases, substituting the sugar content for xylitol, an artificial sweetening product that helps to reduce the calorie count of the jar.
This is why some brands of peanut butter are now considered to be unsuitable for dogs, and why all dog owners should make themselves aware of how these ingredient changes can affect their dogs, and make their purchasing decisions accordingly. Read on to learn more.
Any brand of peanut butter that contains xylitol in the ingredients listing, either alongside of sugar or instead of it, should never be given to dogs. Xylitol is an artificial sweetening agent that is used in place of sugar in a wide range of products, from artificial sweeteners for tea and coffee to sugar-free chewing gum, to some cakes, diabetic sweets and other products too.
Xylitol is perfectly safe for humans to eat, but it is very toxic to dogs, even in very low amounts. Just .1gram of xylitol per kg of the dog’s weight can lead to a rapid and dangerous blood: sugar drop, which is known as hypoglycaemia. This can present with symptoms including disorientation, weakness, collapse and even seizures, and requires urgent veterinary attention.
Just a slightly higher dose of .5grams of xylitol per kg of the dog’s weight can lead to rapid onset permanent liver damage, which can ultimately prove fatal.
Any peanut butter or other nut butter product that contains xylitol in any amount should never be given to dogs.
Palm oil is another product that some brands of peanut butter (usually those at the lower end of the price spectrum) use to substitute the more expensive peanut oil in their products, and while palm oil is not toxic or harmful to dogs in the same way that xylitol is, it is still best avoided. However, if your dog has just a spoonful of peanut butter with palm oil every now and then, they should not suffer from any ill effects.
Fed in large quantities, palm oil can lead to stomach upsets and diarrhoea, due to the high level of saturated vegetable fats contained within it, making it very rich and fatty, and so both high in calories and possibly, too rich for the digestive system of some dogs.
Whether or not you decide to cut peanut butter with palm oil out of your dog’s diet, you must ensure that you never feed them peanut butter that contains xylitol in any amount.
Two of the main peanut butter brands that are known to contain xylitol are Krush Nutrition, and Nuts’n’More, and neither of these brands should be fed to your dog.
It is important to remember that food manufacturers can and sometimes do change the make-up and ingredient types within their products with no notice, and so you should have a quick look at the packaging of your peanut butter each time you buy it, just to be on the safe side.
However, some brands of peanut butter that currently do not contain xylitol include Whole Earth, Meridian, Sun Pat, and Skippy.