Why do dogs like peanut butter?

A small white dog holding a hamburger toy in their mouth

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:

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
  • Diarrhea
  • 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.

About the Author

A picture of Melody smiling towards the camera
Melody Lee
Contributing Writer

Melody Lee is a contributing writer for Gentle Beast, and is a CPDT-KA dog trainer. She lives in Manhattan with two feral cats, Littlepip and Alphonse, that tolerate her clicker training attempts. One day, her cats might let her adopt a dog of her own.

Learn more

Trainer-certified equipment and tools for the modern dog parent

Premium, efficacy driven equipment and interactive content guidance

Text Link
Puppy FAQ
Text Link
Puppy Essentials
Text Link
Adoption
Text Link
Recipes
Text Link
Dog Diets
Text Link
Treats
Text Link
Dog Food
Text Link
Pet Insurance
Text Link
Skin/Coat Care
Text Link
Dental Care
Text Link
Veterinary Care
Text Link
Supplements
Text Link
Walkers
Text Link
Rescues
Text Link
Boarding
Text Link
Grooming
Text Link
Dog Friendly Hotels
Text Link
Dog Friendly Camping
Text Link
Dog Friendly Beaches
Text Link
Dog Friendly Parks
Text Link
Guarding Breeds
Text Link
Drafting Breeds
Text Link
Herding Breeds
Text Link
Retrieving Breeds
Text Link
Genetic Testing
Text Link
Toy Dogs
Text Link
Hounds
Text Link
Shepherds
Text Link
Terriers
Text Link
Hunting Breeds
Text Link
Dog Care Equipment
Text Link
Treats & Pouches
Text Link
Walk Equipment
Text Link
Household
Text Link
Specialty
Text Link
Crates & Pens
Text Link
Agility Training
Text Link
Nosework
Text Link
Recall
Text Link
Impulse Control
Text Link
Basic Manners
Text Link
Bite Inhibition
Text Link
Socialization
Text Link
Reactivity
Text Link
Walk Training
Text Link
House Training
Text Link
Operant Conditioning
Text Link
Find a Trainer
Text Link
Hero Dogs
Text Link
Famous Dogs
Text Link
Ancient Dogs
Text Link
Evolution
Text Link
Triggers
Text Link
Body Language
Text Link
Dog Senses
Text Link
Dog Psychology
Text Link
Training Equipment
Text Link
Mythology
Text Link
Companion Breeds
Text Link
Competitive Training