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This blog post was originally published in 2015; it has been updated with new, more accurate information and republished.
Years ago I Googled “can dogs have peanuts?” and learned that they're perfectly safe for dogs and a great form of protein. Peanuts are one of my favorite snacks (in the shell, low or no salt). My dogs recognize the sound of a cracking shell and come running to share my treat.
This habit nearly stopped when a Facebook follower advised me to take care when giving our dogs peanuts because they can pose a choking hazard.
Peanuts? No, they're perfectly safe for dogs! Right?
Although my dogs have never had an issue eating peanuts, I'm thankful for the warning. I've been raising dogs for nearly 10 years and I don't know everything there is to know about dogs. I count on what others share to learn more – doesn't mean that what they share applies to my dogs, but it's still good information to know because…you never know.
Nutrients in Peanuts
I know that peanuts are a great source of protein and fat, which is why I like to eat them as a healthy snack. Whenever I have a high carb day, I offset by bad bad bad eating with nuts. Yeah, it probably doesn't work that way, but it makes me feel good.
But what other nutrients are in peanuts? A quick Google search told me that peanuts are rich in:
- B-6 Vitamin
Despite the nutrients, I only eat (and feed) peanuts as a snack and never as a meal.
Nuts that are Bad for Dogs
The only nuts that I've found that are bad for dogs are macadamia nuts. Other warnings about feeding nuts to dogs involved the high-fat content of nuts. If we had a dog that was prone to pancreatitis, I'd take care when feeding nuts as a snack and work with my veterinarian on their diet to make sure I don't go too far.
Other nuts on the “risky” list include pistachios (because of the shell), walnuts, and pecans. These made the list because of their size and the potential of a choking hazard.
Nuts and Seeds that are GREAT for Dogs
- Almonds – fiber, antioxidants, Vitamin E, magnesium, manganese
- Sunflower Seeds – fiber, Vitamin E, copper, manganese, selenium
- Pumpkin Seeds – phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, Vitamin K, zinc
- Chia Seeds – manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus
- Hemp Seeds – magnesium, zinc, and iron
I'm a huge fan of almonds and the above seeds and often use them to balance my dogs' raw meals.
Is Peanut Butter Bad for Dogs?
So after that brief detour, let's get back to peanuts. A few years ago, Dogs Naturally Magazine wrote an article about feeding dogs peanut butter that broke Facebook (or at least the dog lover community on Facebook). Their article stated that peanut butter is not only bad for dogs, it's highly toxic. As in causes cancer toxic.
I used to give our dogs peanut butter as a treat all the time.
According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, we shouldn't feed our dogs peanut butter, because…
- peanuts contain aflatoxins, which can lead to cancer
- peanut butter contains a lot of fat
- peanut butter contains a lot of sugar
This is going to sound crazy, but this is me being honest – I feel like we’ve taken things too far when it comes to our pets. I can no longer drum up the energy to worry about these things that are so, in my opinion, teeny. I don’t think that my dogs are at risk of developing cancer from eating a couple of peanuts when I’m snacking on the sofa. I don’t think my dogs are at risk from an occasional lick of peanut butter or when swallowing a spoonful to take medication.
I can understand if a dog were being fed a diet very high in peanut butter because all things should be done in moderation for both humans and animals. And, if you're feeding your dog mostly peanut butter – SHAME ON YOU! DO BETTER!!! Since my dogs don’t eat a daily diet of peanut butter, I think both peanuts and organic/natural peanut butter is perfectly safe and my dogs enjoy it and I love watching them smack their mouths in that enjoyment.
I smile every time I remember when Scout and Zoey had their first taste of peanut butter. Damn I wish I would have gotten that on camera.
Can Dogs Have Almond Butter?
If peanut butter is off the menu, can I give my dogs almond butter as a substitute?
The answer is yes and much like peanut butter, almond butter is safe as long as there are no toxic additives. Know your source.
So, instead of cutting peanut butter (or almond butter) out of our dogs' diet, I opted to give use peanut butter as a way to give medication and that's it. By the way, you can also hide a pill in coconut oil for your dogs.
I don't give our dogs frozen Kongs with peanut butter (because I worry about the sugar). Instead, I've learned to be creative.
Poochie Butter Peanut Butter for Dogs
If you've found xylitol-free peanut butter, but you still don't like the sugar and salt in the container, there is an alternative. Poochie Butter is an all natural peanut butter made specifically for our pups. The ingredients list is impressive:
- Dry roasted peanuts – for natural b-vitamins and fiber
- Cinnamon – to help regulate blood sugar and raise insulin resistance
- Turmeric – a natural anti-inflammatory
- Parlsey – freshens the breath
- Ginger – a natural anti-inflammatory
- Coconut oil – to promote healthy skin and coat
I was so shocked by this ingredient list that I had to confirm with the company that this is it – no inactive ingredients, no weird preservatives – nope. The only thing that isn't on the list is a peanut shaped “Kong” toy that we can stuff and freeze for our dogs.
I opened the container and let Apollo have a taste and he loved it. The peanut butter has a more liquid consistency without the ingredients that make it hard. It seems similar to the organic brands on the market, but I don't have to mix it up (so far). I haven't tasted it because I personally think peanut butter is gross thanks to eating 50 (or more) peanut butter cookies in one sitting when I was 14 years old.
Because of the lack of preservatives, I keep it in the fridge and plan to use it as an ingredient when I next stuff Kongs for our dogs.
My only critique is that I wish it were sold in a glass container instead of plastic. Not the end of the world, of course, just a preference.
Poochie Butter is available in 12 ounce containers on Amazon.com.
Alternatives to Peanut Butter for Kongs
for the carnivore in the house
Mix the following, which are all available at the grocery store:
- browned, lean ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey
- chicken or beef liver
- chicken or turkey gizzards
- chicken hearts
If you have dogs with protein allergies, you can order alternative proteins and organs at an Asian market or through a raw food co-op.
- Mix all ingredients in a casserole dish and bake on low until fully cooked (40 – 50 minutes)
- Let cool, spoon into a mixing bowl and add water and mash together
- Spoon into Kongs and freeze
when the carnivore wants some fruit
Mix the following in a mixing bowl, spoon into Kong and freeze:
- plain Greek yogurt
- berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
got apple trees? try this recipe!
Make apple sauce (no extra sugar added); and if you don't have apples, you can mush up the following fruit for a yummy treat:
- watermelon (remove the seeds)
- sweet potatoes (no fruit, but the dogs love it)
- my veggie mix
Food I Avoid When Stuffing Kongs
I avoid the following foods when stuffing Kongs because the dogs never finish a Kong fully, they carry their prize around the house, and I don't mind berries dripping on the floor or on their beds. I'm not a fan of the following foods being dripped everywhere…
- sardines and other fish
- canned/wet food; canned pet food always smells awful to me
- sauerkraut and other fermented foods; okay for meals, not the Kongs
Whatever you choose, make sure it's safe for dogs (your dog in particular) and have fun with it. I love making food and treats for my dogs. It's fun!