Most people who have dogs know that they seem to have a sixth sense about when you’re about to make a peanut butter sandwich. Before you’ve even opened the jar, you can guarantee that your furry friend will be sitting there, looking up at you expectantly!
The majority of dog owners frequently give their pets peanut butter, and it’s a very popular treat with faithful hounds everywhere. One of the best things about it is its versatility. You can put some on your finger or a spoon to give as a speedy reward for good behaviour or spread it inside a hollow bone or dog toy for a treat that will keep them busy for hours.
However, some people worry that peanut butter isn’t a healthy treat for pups, and think that it might be best to stick to traditional dog treats instead. So, what’s the truth of the matter? Can you give man’s best friend the peanut butter they’re craving, or do we have to ignore those puppy eyes and put the jar away?
Moderation Is Key
For dog owners who want to do the best thing for their pet, the good news is that most types of peanut butter are perfectly safe for their four-legged friend. In fact, peanut butter can even be a good source of healthy fats, protein, niacin and vitamins E and B. However, moderation is the key. If anyone, human or canine, ate peanut butter for every meal they’d end up overweight!
Choose A Healthy Peanut Butter
When you’re choosing a peanut butter for your pet, bear in mind that you might want to check out the ingredients first. While you might just pick up any old jar off the supermarket shelf for yourself, your dog could benefit from a healthier version.
Look for unsalted peanut butters, since high levels of sodium could cause problems for your pet. Actually, it wouldn’t do you any harm either to reduce your own salt intake! Also, avoiding peanut butters without additives and extra sugar added will also be a healthier option for both you and your furry friend.
If you have some way of making it, home made peanut butter is the best option since it won’t have any nasty ingredients in it that could harm your pet.
How Much Peanut Butter Should I Give My Dog?
Although peanut butter is packed with protein and natural fats, if you give your pet too much of it, he’s going to get fat. After all, so would you if you were constantly munching peanut butter! It can also lead to other health problems like pancreatitis too, so limiting the amount you give your pet makes sense.
Speak to your vet and ask for some advice about how much peanut butter would be safe to give your dog. This is an especially good idea if you have a pet with an existing problem such as food allergies or sensitivities, or diabetes.
If in doubt, you should use the 10% rule. This states that you shouldn’t allow treats of any kind to make up over 10% of your pet’s daily diet. Measure the amount of dog food you’re giving your pet each day and work out how much 10% would be of that amount and make sure you don’t exceed it.
It’s also a good idea to alternate between healthy treats and peanut butter. Dogs are often just as happy with dog-friendly vegetables and fruit as fatty peanut butter, and munching on some carrots will not only be better for their health but also for their teeth too!
Xylitol – A Hidden Danger
Although most types of peanut butter are entirely safe for pets to eat, there are some varieties that you need to watch out for as they can cause fatal consequences if your pet is allowed to eat it. Some manufacturers are now starting to use xylitol, a form of sweetener, in their peanut butter products.
Xylitol is used as a substitute for sugar and it can be found frequently in sugar-free goods such as breath mints, baked goods, chewable vitamins, toothpaste and chewing gum. You needn’t worry about it harming your health since it’s completely safe for humans, but it spells serious danger for your dog.
Eating foods containing xylitol causes your dog to have a fast release of insulin, and that causes his blood sugar level to drop dramatically. This can be potentially fatal if it goes untreated. The condition is called “hypoglycemia” and may occur as rapidly as 10 minutes to an hour after your pet eats some xylitol.
While you probably don’t need to worry about your dog getting hold of your toothpaste and munching through it, if xylitol is in peanut butter it can easily be given to your dog without you realizing. Lots of dog owners don’t even know what xylitol is, let alone what harm it can do to their pet.
Luckily, it’s very easy to avoid your pet being poisoned by this artificial sweetener. You just need to make sure that you check the labels on peanut butter jars (and, indeed, any other product you’re planning on giving to your dog) to make sure that xylitol isn’t on the list of ingredients. If you have any products in your cabinets that contain xylitol, always make sure that you keep them well out of your pet’s reach.
If you’re worried that your dog could possibly have eaten something that contained xylitol always contact your vet straight away as early treatment is essential for the best chance of success.
There are several symptoms to look out for that could indicate that your pet has eaten xylitol including:
- Poor coordination
So, the good news is that as long as you always check the packaging for dangerous ingredients and don’t let your pet have peanut butter for every meal, there’s no issues with giving your furry friend a taste of their favorite peanut butter snack occasionally. Our list of dog safe peanut butter brands is a good start in choosing the correct brand for your dog.