Dogs love food, but most seem to hold a special fascination for peanut butter in their hearts. No one knows why dogs love peanut butter so much, but common theories include:
- They're Omnivores: Dogs are omnivores and scavengers. Peanut butter is an excellent source of fat and protein, making it an easy option.
- A Spoonful of Sugar: Like humans, dogs can have a sweet tooth. Many brands of peanut butter contain sugar.
- The Smell of Peanut Butter: Dr. Susan Wynn, a veterinarian at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, believes that the "aroma is what makes them immediately attracted. That roasted aroma comes from proteins and fats that have been changed in the roasting, and they probably smell a bit like caramelized meat."
Is peanut butter healthy?
Peanut butter is safe for dogs to consume. It contains protein, fat, vitamins B and E, and niacin.
Homemade or low sodium varieties are great options for health-conscious pet owners. Powdered peanut butter mixed with water is another popular low-calorie variation.
Some commercial peanut butters contain xylitol as an artificial sweetener. Xylitol is toxic for dogs. Always check the ingredients label before feeding peanut butter to your pet!
Peanut butter is notoriously high in calories, boasting 96 calories per tablespoon. Underweight dogs benefit from supplementing their diets with peanut butter. Because of its high fat content, excessive peanut butter consumption can contribute to obesity and pancreatitis. Moderation is key!
The controversy around aflatoxin
Aflatoxin occurs naturally in mold found in contaminated grains and legumes. Because it occurs in peanut products, some people prefer to avoid them altogether.
Aflatoxin was first identified in England in the 1960s. Today, the FDA conducts random checks to ensure peanut products do not contain any aflatoxin. Aflatoxin does not form once peanut butter is packed.
One study reported that when it comes to aflatoxin exposure, commercial dog food is riskier than peanut butter, indicating how unlikely aflatoxin poisoning is in dogs.
Symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning are:
- Sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice
- Unexplained bruising or bleeding
- Liver damage
Aflatoxin poisoning can only be diagnosed by a vet.
Using peanut butter as a training aid
Peanut butter can be used to disguise pills and administer medication.
You can also use it to stuff kongs. It freezes well and can keep your dog occupied for long periods, making it a handy tool for crate training or enrichment activities.
Peanut butter can be smeared on lick mats, which are useful for counterconditioning/desensitization exercises on handling or grooming.