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Is it safe to give my dog peanut butter as a treat?

by Dena B. Baker DVM February 9th, 2011 | Ask the Vet
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Can dogs be allergic to peanut butter?

In my practice, we have often had clients use peanut butter to give oral medication. Peanut butter works well because it sticks to the pills and makes it more difficult for the dog to pick out the pill and spit it out.  However, I advise clients to use peanut butter in small quantities to give medication or to put in interactive dog toys (such as Kong toys).

Peanut butter is high in fat and could cause intestinal problems, such as vomiting or diarrhea, for dogs that have very sensitive intestinal systems.  Excessive fat, in large amounts, could contribute to the development of a more severe condition, such as pancreatitis.  Also, high calorie food high in fat can lead to obesity, which is a rising problem for dogs, just like it is with their owners.  Obesity can lead to conditions that can decrease your dog’s life span and quality of life including:  joint problems and arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease, and heart disease.

Unlike in humans, peanut allergies appear to be very rare in dogs.   Today, however, you have to be careful because there are a variety of different types of nut butters available.  Macadamia nuts should be avoided because they are toxic to dogs.  There is a lot of variability between dogs in the amount of nuts needed to cause a toxic reaction.  The clinical signs of macadamia nut toxicity usually develop within 12 hours and include weakness and/or inability to walk, ataxia (staggering gait), vomiting, depression, tremors, and hyperthermia (elevated body temperature).  If you suspect your dog has ingested macadamia nuts, seek veterinary care immediately.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your animal's veterinarian.