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When Dogs Naturally Magazine broke the internet when they told dog lovers to stop treating their dogs with peanut butter, I thought they'd lost their rockers.
Our dogs LOVE peanut butter!
But now the news is spreading that peanut butter manufacturers are adding xylitol as a sweetener and dog-centric websites are ringing the alarms!!! PEANUT BUTTER KILLS! (actually, that's me being melodramatic)
If you're like me, then peanut butter is a yummy treat in your home. I know that it's full of calories and sugar, so I no longer stuff a Kong with peanut butter, but I do use it as an ingredient in dog treats.
Our peanut butter of choice is Jif, which we buy at Costco and doesn't (at the time of publishing this post) contain xylitol.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a sweetener that we commonly find in sugar-free gum and baked goods. It's great for humans, but deadly for dogs.
Why is Xylitol Dangerous for Dogs?
“Because it's such a strong stimulator of insulin release in dogs, it takes just a small amount of xylitol (0.1g/kg) eaten by a dog to cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar (“hypoglycemia”). Mild hypoglycemia will typically cause weakness and a lack of coordination. More pronounced hypoglycemia, such as that which often happens with xylitol ingestion, can lead to seizures, coma, and even death. Xylitol can cause a dangerous drop in your dog's blood sugar in as little as 30 minutes!
As if that weren't enough, if a dog eats just 0.5g/kg of xylitol (still a very small amount – see the table and picture below) they are at risk of suffering from “acute hepatic necrosis.” Literally translated, “acute hepatic necrosis” means “sudden liver death” and it is a severely debilitating, and frequently fatal form of liver failure.” Source: Preventative Vet
Learn more about the shocking facts about Xylitol and dogs on Preventative Vet. You'll be blown away – I eat a lot of gum, but it's store away from the dogs.
Make Your Own Peanut Butter for Your Dogs
Looking online for a recipe, I found a lot that called for salt or vegetable oil (not great for dogs). I finally found a recipe for homemade peanut butter that has one ingredient – dry roasted peanuts.
yield: About 2 cups | prep time: 10 minutes | total time: 10 minutes
4 cups dry roasted peanuts
- Place the peanuts in the bowl of a food processor, and process for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Store the peanut butter in a glass jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
When I was looking for recipes, I saw raw honey used as an ingredient; it's great for dogs and has helped Rodrigo with his environmental allergies.
I'm curious if coconut oil would be good too (I'll have to try).
We started limiting the amount of peanut butter our dogs get a while ago, only giving it as a treat once in a while (instead of daily). Now I'll be checking the ingredients of our favorite brand to watch for any changes.
I just hope that this is an ingredient that's disclosed on the labeling.
More Information on Xylitol and Dogs
- Petition to push brands to clearly label their products for xylitol use.
- List of peanut butters and other products that use xylitol.
Update on Xylitol and Peanut Butter Labeling
On Monday 9/14/15, I received an email from Dr. Jason Nicholas giving his followers an update on the petition to push brands to clearly label their products that contain xylitol. Here is what Dr. Nicholas shared:
- The manufacturers petition went over the 500 signature mark this past week, while the FDA petition is approaching that mini-milestone.
- Nuts ’N More (the first xylitol-containing peanut butter featured in our original article) has already added a warning to their website and should soon be rolling out their new labels (which we’re told will include a warning AND xylitol concentration per serving — both VERY important to help protect dogs!)
- A second xylitol-peanut butter company, P28, responded to our outreach and has now added a website warning. We have also provided them with information and guidance and they are now looking into making label changes.
- One of the xylitol-containing ice cream companies, WheyHey, is now aware of the xylitol hazard and our campaign and are now discussing label improvements.
- The petitions and campaign has also started to receive some great initial press! We’ve had articles written about the campaign in both the Food Safety News and the VIN News Service*. An article in The Oregonian newspaper is scheduled to publish later this week, and I’ve already shot a TV segment on xylitol for the More Good Day Oregon show (haven’t yet been told when it will air). [*For those that aren’t familiar with “VIN” — it stands for the Veterinary Information Network, and it’s the largest veterinary message board and online community. It’s great exposure to the profession!]
If you haven't done so already, please sign the petition to push brands to clearly label their products for xylitol use.
Another Reason to Stop Giving Dogs Commercial Peanut Butter
Peanut butter (although yummy) can exacerbate chronic illnesses like seizure disorders and allergies and is therefore NOT a recommended treat for your furry friend.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for treats:
- Protein/meat-based treats are preferred.
- Goat cream cheese or other soft cheeses can make a great alternative to peanut butter for hiding medications in!
- Avoid baked cookie-like treats; they tend to have corn, wheat, and sugars in them.
- Do consider freeze-dried (well sourced) meats like lamb lung or duck hearts.
- Avoid treats made in China-too few safeguards on important ingredients.
- Pre-prepared raw food can be a great filler for used raw bones. Just stuff, freeze and feed!