A dog licks peanut butter off a Naperville veterinarian's spoon.

Most dogs go crazy for peanut butter, and their owners use this preference to treat them, keep them busy during separations, or conceal medication. Peanut butter is safe for dogs to eat – and incredibly nutritious (in moderation). Unfortunately, not all products are created equal. 

If you have a dog that loves nuts (and especially a yummy PB snack) we have some strategies to keep them safe and healthy.

Say No to Sweets

Dogs have an instinct to want to try pretty much everything we eat. This curiosity can land them in pretty hot water if owners aren’t careful to store or dispose of toxic foods. One example is Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in gums, mints, sugar-free baked goods, and some nut butters. While it’s safe for humans, even a small amount of Xylitol can cause a serious drop in blood sugar and even lead to liver failure in dogs. 

Read Labels Carefully

Popular brands of nut butters can contain Xylitol. As a result, we urge all dog owners to read labels thoroughly. For a dog that loves nuts, they should only be offered creamy or crunchy nut butters that are free of this dangerous chemical. If you enjoy nut butters that have a sweeter taste, be sure to keep this product separate from the nut butter you give your dog.

All Natural Goodness

The best kind of peanut butter for a dog that loves nuts contains only one ingredient: peanuts. Some products may add unhealthy ingredients such as salt, hydrogenated oils, and more. 

Exploring Other Options

You don’t have to stop with peanut butter. While we encourage you to explore your dog’s palette with other tasty, nutritious options it is important to only do so in moderation. Giving your dog too many daily calories can cause weight gain, and may eventually lead to obesity-related problems like diabetes or arthritis. 

Also, because nuts are packed with protein and fat, eating too many nuts may create health problems like pancreatitis.

For a Dog That Loves Nuts

Cashews are more fattening than peanuts, but for a dog that loves nuts you’ll notice that they relish this occasional treat. Giving them too many roasted cashews or going overboard on their portion size of cashew butter may result in a stomach ache. Always offset their daily food intake accordingly.

Hazelnuts can also provide an interesting treat, although we recommend chopping them into small bite-sized chunks. Hazelnut butter (not with chocolate, of course) may also go over well with a dog that loves nuts.

Pistachios can be a fun offering, too. While they won’t hurt your pet in small amounts, too many pistachios have the potential to cause weight gain or pancreatitis.

From Naperville’s Top Veterinarians: Avoid These Nuts

The following nuts can deliver some uncomfortable side effects for dogs:

  • Almonds can be harder to digest and may cause GI upset for some pups.
  • Macadamia nuts are not only really high in fat, but due to a toxin also found in grapes and raisins, neurological problems may occur.
  • Walnuts contain tremorgenic mycotoxins, making them a no-no.
  • Hickory nuts and pecans have juglone, a toxin that can cause GI problems.

Remember to watch them closely when they chew on nuts to mitigate any possible choking.
If you have any questions about your dog’s diet, The veterinarians at Naperville Animal Hospital are always happy to help.