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It's no secret our pooches love peanut butter. And really, how could they not? The tasty spread is all things we love—sweet, salty, and of course, nutty! Our canine companions may go "nuts" for peanut butter-flavored treats or a spoonful of Skippy, but this poses the question: can dogs eat peanuts by themselves?
Can Dogs Eat Peanuts Safely?
Some nuts, like macadamia nuts, are toxic to dogs. Peanuts—which are actually legumes—on the other paw, are not toxic … meaning Fido can snack on peanuts alongside us humans.
There are some precautions to take though, as the kind of peanuts you feed and how often you feed them can make the difference between a healthy treat and a less-than-healthy snack.
"Dogs can eat peanuts, but only a few a day, and only unsalted, dry roasted, or raw peanuts," says Antje Joslin, DVM, and in-house veterinarian expert for Dogtopia. "Salted or other flavored peanuts are not safe for your pet."
Are Peanuts Good For Dogs?
Peanuts are considered to be healthy snacks for us humans. So, are they good or bad for our dogs to eat, too?
Peanuts are packed full of nutritional value, like vitamin B-6, vitamin E, niacin, healthy fats, and protein, Joslin says. However, the two nutrients that make plain peanuts so undeniably tasty are the ones to be careful of.
"Peanuts are high in fat, and therefore, high in calories and should only be given in small quantities for dogs," Joslin says. "If your dog struggles with being overweight, peanuts or peanut butter are probably not the best choices. The high fat content makes them a risk factor for some dogs that are prone to pancreatitis."
Dogs' daily caloric intake ranges from 200–1,350 calories depending on their weight, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). So, a high-calorie food like peanuts can result in weight gain in your dog if fed consistently. Moreover, excess weight could lead to disorders like high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, and osteoarthritis.
How can you be sure you're not feeding your pup too many peanuts?
"A little goes a long way when it comes to peanuts," Joslin says. "A small amount of peanut butter a few times a week as a treat is plenty."
The Safety of Different Types of Peanuts
If you'd like to safely share some peanuts with your pooch, it's best to keep them plain and simple. Another way your dog can safely savor the flavor of peanuts is with good ol' peanut butter.
"Natural peanut butter is the safest way to feed your dog peanuts. Use a brand with no or low salt, no artificial sugars, or flavors," Joslin says.
Peanut shells, in addition to not being the tastiest, are hard to digest.
"Do not feed [dogs] the peanut shells, as they could be a choking hazard, and the high fiber content is not good for their gastrointestinal tract (GI) tract and can lead to GI upset or diarrhea," Joslin says.
While salt does make foods more flavorful, avoid feeding your dog salted peanuts.
"Do not feed your dog salted peanuts, as they have too much salt, and stay away from flavored peanuts—honey roasted, for example," Joslin says.
If fed too much salt, your dog may experience excessive thirst and urination, and in the worst cases, sodium ion poisoning, according to the ASPCA. Signs your dog has had too much salt include:
When it comes to feeding your dog peanuts, Joslin says a small quantity of dry roasted or raw, unsalted peanuts are safe for your canine companion to enjoy. No salt, no added flavors, no problem!
Can Dogs Have Crunchy Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter is great for filling your furry friend's KONG toy, hiding his medicine, and feeding when it's time for a sweet treat. But you may wonder which is better to share with your dog, creamy or crunchy peanut butter?
The good news: either works! That is, as long as they're natural peanut butters, Joslin says.
"Crunchy or creamy natural peanut butter in small quantities is OK for most dogs," Joslin says. "If your dog is overweight, sensitive to high-fat food, or has a history of pancreatitis, avoid peanuts and peanut butter."
In any case, it's always best to consult with your veterinarian to see where peanuts (and peanut butter) fit in your dog's diet.