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Peanut butter is often a favourite treat for owners to give to their dogs. Perfect as a reward for good behaviour, to disguise medicine or just as a delicious filling for boredom-busting toys, but how safe is it for your dog?
Although many dogs may be nuts about peanuts, they aren’t always the safest treat to opt for. The high-fat content and salt levels of peanut products can pose risks such as dehydration as well as Xylitol poisoning. So if you want to feed them to your dog, you have to ensure they are prepared correctly and safely.
The good news is that peanuts are not toxic to dogs, although there can still be potentially harmful elements at play inside their bodies if they digest too many or if they are incorrectly prepared. It can also be extremely difficult to differentiate between nut types, so owners should always take great care when feeding them to their pets. It is always advised that you consult your vet when introducing new food to your dog, and be mindful of the stipulations around feeding your dog peanuts.
Dogs and Nuts
Although humans may consume nuts for their healthy fatty acids and proteins, when it comes to your dog’s health, nuts can vary in their levels of safety. Whilst your dog will probably be fine if he manages to snap up a few dropped peanuts, other nuts can be extremely harmful and should be avoided.
Out of all of the nuts, peanuts are the safest of the bunch when they are properly prepared and fed sensibly. Hickory nuts and pecans can contain a dangerous mould that secretes mycotoxins, which is a fungus that can poison your dog. The same process can occur with old nuts that have been left for a while.
The number one nut to steer well clear of at all costs is the Macadamia nut. Considered to be as toxic to your dog as grapes, this nut can cause violent vomiting and the violent swelling of joints. In the worst cases, large doses of the toxin present in Macadamia nuts can cause neurological issues, seizures and even paralysis.
Other high-risk nuts include Brazil nuts and black walnuts which can cause a range of symptoms from gastrointestinal issues to urinary tract stones. When feeding your dog nuts, check that they haven’t consumed something that could be damaging to their bodies. It is important that you identify the risk levels associated with the various common nuts.
So, How Should I Serve Peanuts To My Dog?
The best way for dogs to eat peanuts is in small and moderate quantities. If you’re snacking on salted and honey-roasted peanuts that so many of us enjoy, ensure that you do not share with your dog. Peanuts are only safe to give to your dog if they are raw, unsalted, shelled and uncoated. The high-fat content can also lead to Pancreatitis, and additional products such as salt and Xylitol can be not only dangerous but toxic.
Many dogs won’t bother chewing a peanut and may swallow it whole, and so pose a choking hazard. Smaller dogs have smaller air passages and so are more prone to choking. It is also wise to feed your dog only one of them at a time to monitor swallowing.
However, peanuts are a delicious source of protein, vitamin B6 and E, Niacin and minerals, so in moderation, they can be a delicious bite-sized snack. This makes them a perfect choice for rewarding good behaviour when training, and for supplementing mentally stimulating toys. This can help beat boredom and keep their brains active.
On a hot day when temperatures start to rise, why not freeze your peanut butter-smeared Kong for a refreshing and cooling treat. Some owners have even included peanuts when baking dog-friendly cakes for special occasions. Just remember, moderation is key. Peanuts are high in fats that dogs have difficulty digesting. This can lead to problems, so remember that portion control is very important to your dog’s health. 90% of their nutrition should come from their daily feed and only 10% from treats. If this balance is disrupted, it can cause serious problems for your dog.
What Risks Are Associated With Feeding Your Dog Peanut Products?
Whilst peanuts are not toxic or poisonous for your dog, there are important risks to consider when you feed them. You don’t have to panic if your dog has accidentally hoovered up a dropped peanut, but if you are choosing to supplement your dog’s diet with peanuts or peanut butter, be mindful of added ingredients that may cause dangerous and even life-threatening issues. Every dog owner must be aware of the mild to dangerous side effects of peanut consumption.
This is a common complaint from dog owners whose dogs have eaten too many peanuts. The high concentration of fats, in particular trans-fatty acids used to lengthen the shelf life of peanut butter, can accumulate with excessive over-feeding and can result in a particularly painful medical issue called Pancreatitis. This condition can be potentially life-threatening. The pancreas and surrounding tissues inflame in reaction to too many fats, causing extreme pain for your dog.
Classic signs of pancreatitis in dogs include:
- Hunched or humped back
- Loss of appetite and no desire to drink
- Incessant vomiting throughout the day or over several days
- Bloating of the belly
- Weakness and sluggishness
- Diarrhoea or any other change in stool
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from any of these symptoms, do not hesitate in contacting your vet immediately.
Salted peanuts are one of the most common types, but this additional ingredient is not safe for your dog. Salt poisoning, or Sodium-Ion poisoning, can occur from sudden ingestion of too much salt. It can lead to dehydration as the water in your dog’s body dilutes the salt in the blood, and is cleansed by the body in his urine.
Early symptoms can include involuntary jerking and spasming of muscles, and immediate medical attention is required. Access to clean and fresh water is always required and can help avoid these circumstances.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is becoming increasingly popular in foods, mainly peanut butter. Xylitol is extremely toxic for pets, and even a small amount can cause a drop in your dog’s blood sugar level. This is known as Hypoglycemia and the dangers of this can include:
Unless you purchase peanut butter that is specifically created for dogs, the safest way is to make your own. Blend unsalted and de-shelled peanuts until a soft creamy paste is made, a perfect solution to ensure you don’t come into contact with Xylitol.
Just like humans, dogs can have allergies too and just like in human reactions, our companions can have symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening. Stop feeding and call your emergency vet immediately if your dog displays the following symptoms
- Swelling around the muzzle or mouth
- Hives or rash
- Difficulties in breathing or wheezing
What Are The Important Things To Consider When Feeding Your Dog Peanuts?
First and foremost, the important thing is to remember that peanuts are not toxic. The most immediate danger of a dog ingesting a dropped peanut is choking. If you are intentionally planning on using peanuts to positively reinforce positive and desired behaviour when training, then remember that the way the peanut is prepared is of the utmost importance.
Peanuts must be raw, unshelled and uncoated to be safely fed to your dog. Avoid choking by feeding one at a time and by keeping an eye on their swallowing. Honey-roasted peanuts, salted peanuts, and otherwise flavoured peanuts are not safe and can lead to serious health problems.
Overindulgence is the biggest issue that can have the worst consequences for your dog’s health. As a dog parent, it is your responsibility to ensure that anything your dog eats is presented in the best way, avoiding additives and potentially damaging ingredients. It is also vital that their calorific and fat intake is monitored so that any risks are avoided and your dog lives its happiest healthiest life.