Peanuts are a popular, anytime snack in the U.S. We eat them raw, roasted, salted and flavored. It’s not unusual to see peanuts playing a role in dinner entrees or as part of a delectable dessert. Humans tend to want to share the foods they enjoy with their canine companions. This makes it important to address the question, “Can dogs eat peanuts?”
Generally, the answer is “yes.” Peanuts, unlike other nuts, are not toxic to dogs. However, it may make sense to keep a few guidelines in mind to ensure that your pet doesn’t get too much of a good thing. It’s also wise to introduce peanuts to your pup slowly. This makes it easier for you to determine whether or not he may be allergic to peanuts or if he has trouble digesting them. If the introduction goes well and your dog seems to have a real taste for peanuts, then you may want to include them in a homemade treat. Introducing peanuts to your dog can be one more way that you strengthen the bond you share.
Avoid Giving Nuts to your Dog
It is well known that certain nuts are toxic to dogs. In fact, some nuts are potentially lethal in the right amounts, and they should never be given to your dog. These include macadamia nuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, and pistachios. Macadamia nuts and pistachios are particularly high in fat content which is at least likely to upset your dog’s tummy. At worst, it can cause pancreatitis. Scientists suggest that macadamia nuts also have a toxic ingredient that may cause adverse neurological symptoms in dogs. The various varieties of walnuts can also be bad news for your pup. They’ve been known to cause stomach upset and obstructions. Even worse, if they are moldy, then walnuts contain tremorgenic mycotoxins that can cause neurological symptoms or seizures. The same is true of pecans. Almonds, while not toxic to dogs, can nonetheless be difficult for them to digest. This means it may be safest to avoid them.
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If so many nuts are in some way dangerous to dogs, why is it all right for dogs to eat peanuts? Quite simply, it’s because peanuts are not nuts at all. Peanuts grow underground, unlike walnuts and almonds which grow on trees. Accordingly, peanuts belong to a plant family that is known as leguminosae. This makes them more closely related to beans and peas than they are to tree nuts. The miscategorization of the peanut as a nut is good news for dogs. It means that they can continue to indulge in one of their favorite treats.
While peanuts are not strictly nuts, they do share an important characteristic in common with nuts like macadamias and pistachios. That is, they are extremely high in fat. This means that it makes sense not to feed your dog too many peanuts. A pup’s digestive system is not like a human’s. It is difficult for them to process an excess of fat. Not only might consuming too much fat make them overweight, but also it can cause serious intestinal issues.
The main intestinal issue to be on the lookout for is pancreatitis. When a dog consumes too much fat, his pancreas can become inflamed. This is an especially painful condition. The good news is that it can be treated. However, because it is excessively uncomfortable for your best friend, it’s best to avoid it in the first place by not feeding him too many high-fat foods like peanuts.
If you’re going to be offering your dog peanuts as treats, then consider getting a low salt or no salt variety. When peanuts have too much salt on them, this can cause your dog to develop sodium ion toxicosis. Play it safe by foregoing salt or choosing a lightly salted snack.
It’s no secret that most dogs prefer to have their peanuts in the form of peanut butter. In fact, it’s a favorite treat for many pooches. While most peanut butters are generally safe for dogs to consume, there are a few guidelines to be aware of. Federal laws require that peanut butter, to be labeled as such, must consist of at least 90 percent peanuts. That’s good news for the pet parent who’s trying to follow a fairly healthy and straightforward diet for their dog. With so much of peanut butter consisting simply of peanuts, it’s much easier to know that what you’re giving your dog is appropriate for her.
Nonetheless, that leaves 10 percent of the ingredients for you to be concerned about. Since dogs can be sensitive to salt, it may make sense to choose a peanut butter that has low salt content or is salt-free. Similarly, a low-fat peanut butter is probably a better alternative to ensure that your canine companion doesn’t develop digestive issues while trying to process a high-fat food.
The most important precaution you can take before giving your pup peanut butter is to make certain that the recipe does not contain xylitol. This is a sugar substitute that is safe for human consumption. Unfortunately, it is highly toxic to dogs. Carefully read the list of ingredients, looking for xylitol, natural sweetener or sugar alcohol, all of which may signal a trip to the vet if you feed them to your dog. Even a very small portion of xylitol can cause your dog to go into a state of hypoglycemia in which their blood sugar level drops to a dangerously low level. This can destroy liver cells and may also be fatal. Accordingly, if your dog starts panting, staggering, showing signs of disorientation and is on the verge of collapse, he may be suffering from xylitol ingestion and needs to go to the vet immediately.
Most peanut butter that you can buy at the grocery store is acceptable to give to your pup in moderation. Some pet parents are going the extra mile by making homemade peanut butter that is formulated just for dogs. This ensures that the peanut butter has everything you want it to have while leaving out all of the ingredients that might be harmful to your best friend.
Whether you choose to serve your dog whole peanuts themselves or homemade peanut butter, try to always use roasted peanuts. While raw peanuts are not inherently harmful, they may prove to be dangerous if they have not been stored at cool enough temperatures. Raw peanuts that get too warm are subject to the Aspergillus fungus, an organism that makes a poison known as aflatoxin. Dogs who ingest this poison can become seriously ill and may even die. When peanuts are roasted, they are no longer vulnerable to this fungus, so they are always a safer option.
To make homemade peanut butter for your pet, just follow these simple instructions:
Homemade Peanut Butter for Dogs
1 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
1 teaspoon peanut oil
Place all of the above ingredients in a food processor. Continue to process until the desired consistency is reached. This can take three to five minutes as the oils from the peanuts are released slowly as they break down. The mixture may start out looking like a crunchy blob before reaching a dough-like consistency. Next, it looks more like a thickened paste before finally transforming into the familiar consistency of peanut butter. You can serve the peanut butter to your pup as is, use it to bake homemade treats or freeze some to make cold treats for hot days. This recipe will yield about one cup of peanut butter that can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
If you’ve ever wondered, “Can dogs eat peanuts?” then you don’t need to wonder anymore. Peanuts can be a fun, occasional snack for all dogs. However, it’s important to keep a few guidelines in mind. Feed your pup roasted, unsalted peanuts instead of peanuts that are covered in flavorings or candy coatings. Your dog will probably also love peanut butter, but it is necessary to make certain that the brand you choose doesn’t contain any potentially harmful ingredients. To be safe, you could try making your own peanut butter. It’s a treat that any dog would love!