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Home > Dogs > Can Dogs Be Allergic to Peanut Butter? (Vet Answer)

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Peanut Butter? (Vet Answer)

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Dr. Iulia Mihai Photo

Written by

Dr. Iulia Mihai

Veterinarian, DVM MSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Most dogs love peanut butter, but can they be allergic to this treat that they love so much? Like humans, dogs can be allergic to any ingredient, including peanut butter. But in dogs, this allergy is quite rare, and the clinical signs are not that severe.

To see if your dog is allergic to peanut butter, give them a tiny amount at first to see how they react. If your dog starts to show itching, has digestive signs, or breathes with difficulty or their face starts to swell, contact the veterinarian immediately because it means they are allergic.

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What Are Peanut Butter Allergies in Dogs?

Just like humans, dogs can have allergies to peanuts and implicitly, to peanut butter. These allergies are not that common in dogs, though. Still, it is recommended to be aware of the clinical signs to know what to do in case they do occur.

A peanut butter allergy is usually not severe, and the clinical signs are common to those of other food allergies. The dog’s immune system misinterprets a certain protein in the food and perceives it as an enemy, triggering an immune response that can cause discomfort and suffering.

You can offer peanut butter to dogs as an occasional snack, but if this is your pet’s first time eating/tasting it, only give them a small amount to see how they react.

A specialist consultation will exclude other causes that can generate clinical signs similar to allergies, such as gastrointestinal problems, itching of the skin, hair loss, or inflammation of the ears.

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Clinical Signs of a Peanut Butter Allergy in Dogs

Peanut butter is a delicious snack for many dogs. Fortunately, allergies to it are rare and the clinical signs are not severe. These include:

  • Redness of the skin
  • Excessive scratching
  • Excessive licking
  • Hair loss
  • Agitation
  • Gastrointestinal disorders (vomiting and diarrhea)
  • Difficulty breathing and swelling of the face in severe cases (the dog can die if you don’t act quickly)

In rare cases, urticaria may also occur.

If your dog shows any of these clinical signs after you have given them peanut butter, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Is Peanut Butter Safe for Your Dogs to Eat?

Most brands of peanut butter are safe for dogs, but not all types are equal. Peanut butter and peanut butter dog treats should be given in moderation, along with a healthy, balanced diet.

Healthy dogs can usually consume peanut butter, but you should choose unsalted or homemade because those are the safest. If you have no other option than salted commercial peanut butter, carefully read what ingredients are in its composition, as some brands may contain xylitol (an artificial sweetener) or chocolate, two ingredients that are toxic for dogs.

Xylitol is found in many products (toothpaste, candies, etc.) and can be fatal even in small amounts. For example, if your dog swallows chewing gum that contains 1 gram of xylitol, it can cause mild signs.

Clinical signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive lethargy/sleepiness
  • Seizures

Chocolate can also be toxic to dogs. It is not the chocolate as a whole that is toxic, but the cocoa in it, which contains theobromine. Its toxicity is directly proportional to the amount of chocolate/cocoa that the dog consumes. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs include:

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • Gastrointestinal disorders: vomiting and diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Panting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Neurological signs (less common)

If you notice any of these clinical signs or suspect that your dog has ingested peanut butter with xylitol or chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately.

vet examines dog
Image By: SeventyFour, Shutterstock

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How Do I Give Peanut Butter to My Dog?

Here are a few tips on giving peanut butter to your dog.

1. Medication

Giving your pet their medication is not always easy and pleasant, often being stressful for both dog and owner. To improve this experience, hide the capsule or tablet in a small amount of peanut butter. Your dog will eat it without complaint because the peanut butter hides the taste and texture of the pills.


2. Enrichment

Peanut butter is great for spreading on LickiMats and filling Kong puzzle toys. You can use it to prolong your dog’s feeding experience and keep them entertained for long periods. You can also freeze the peanut butter-filled puzzle toys to make them more difficult for your pet and keep them busy even longer.


3. Distraction

If your dog doesn’t like it when you bathe them, trim their nails, or clean their ears, peanut butter can be a real help. Spread peanut butter on the tub or shower, which will keep your dog busy while you bathe them. When you want to trim their nails or clean their ears, someone else can hold a spoonful of peanut butter for your dog to lick while you handle those tasks.


4. Training

Peanut butter can also be used as a treat when training your dog. Give it to your dog after a positive behavior to reinforce it or when they have learned something new. Most dogs are food motivated and will do anything for a treat. Positive reinforcement is usually the best way to train a dog.

dog eating peanut butter
Image By: Elizabeth Foley, Shutterstock

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Much Peanut Butter Can I Give My Dog?

The amount of peanut butter that you can give your dog depends on their size, diet, and health condition and the brand of peanut butter used. In general, treats should not exceed 10% of your dog’s daily diet. As a result, a small-sized dog can receive a maximum of 1/2 a tablespoon of peanut butter one to two times a day, and a medium-sized dog, approximately 1 tablespoon.

Can Dogs Choke on Peanut Butter?

Choking on peanut butter is unlikely but not impossible. It can happen if you have a toy/small dog breed and give them a large amount of peanut butter at once. Since it has a sticky consistency, it can stick/get stuck in your dog’s throat, preventing them from breathing. The maximum amount of peanut butter that an average-sized dog should consume in a day is 1–2 tablespoons. So, if you follow this recommendation, the chances of your small dog choking on peanut butter are quite low.

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Conclusion

A peanut butter allergy in dogs is not as common as in humans, and the clinical signs are not severe. That said, there are cases in which dogs go into anaphylactic shock and die if not intervened in time. This is why it is vital to take your dog to the vet if they present signs of an allergy after consuming peanut butter. Make sure the peanut butter that you give your pet does not contain harmful ingredients, such as xylitol and chocolate. Always feed your dog in moderation.


Featured Image Credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya, Unsplash

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