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IMG 0859Peanut Butter: Dog’s Friend or Foe

How can you even ask that question? You put peanut butter in Kongs, hide pills in it and occasionally let the dog lick it off the spoon. The treat aisle is loaded with treats made out of peanut butter. What is it that you have missed? You try to stay current with recalls on dog food and treats. So what is going on?

It all starts with labels. You should already be scanning labels to make sure everything you give your dog is made in the USA. There is a second thing you need to be as diligent about checking. Xylitol. A very bad word in the canine world.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is derived from certain vegetables, plants and trees. It’s about as sweet as table sugar but with less calories. In humans it helps to prevent tooth decay and middle ear infections in healthy children. There is a significant reduction of cancer causing agents compared to artificial sweeteners. Xylitol is contained in many sugar-free gums, candy and lozenges. It all sounds great, right? Maybe for humans but our dogs are not so lucky.

Even a tiny amount of this sweetener can lead to life threatening events in dogs. Xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure and death. It is rapidly absorbed into a dog’s blood stream, triggering the release of insulin with results in hypoglycemia. This can happen in as little as ten minutes but within the hour. If the dog is treated immediately their progress is good. Unfortunately most cases aren’t caught quickly and have grave results.

Most of the offending brands of peanut butter are found on the shelves of health food stores instead of supermarkets. Go figure. Jif, Skippy and Peter Pan peanut butter are safe at this point. Of course, you are reading labels so you should catch any changes. Right? Below is a current list of peanut butters containing Xylitol and they are all located at health food stores.

Nuts ‘N More

Go Nuts Co.

Hank’s Protein Plus

Krush Nutrition


Please read labels every time you buy things for your dog. Things change all the time. Do not assume because it’s safe for you that it won’t hurt your dog.

There are a couple other reasons to only use peanut butter sparingly and in small amounts. Although it is a good Protein source, has Vitamins B and E and Niacin, it also contains fats. Too many fats can cause pancreatitis and lead to obesity. The sugar can contribute to diabetes.

I also want to mention Mycotoxins. Yeah I know. Another big ole medical word but it is something to keep in mind for you AND your dog. Mycotoxins are produced by a fungus called Aspergillus and are found in peanuts. They are one of the most cancer causing substances known to man and are quite toxic to the liver. It’s not a bad idea to watch your own consumption of peanuts and only use in moderation for you and your dog. Again, the supermarket brands conIMG 0868tain less cancer causing agents than most health food brands.

What I hope you take away from this article is how important it is to read labels. NEVER let your dog eat anything with Xylitol. If that does happen, get them medical care immediately. An occasional treat of Xylitol-free peanut butter can still make your dog smile.