Peanut Butter for Dogs

Is Peanut Butter Safe for Dogs? The simple answer to that question is yes, with the exception being if there is xylitol (Toxic to dogs), which is also being labeled as birch sugar. If you decide to give Peanut Butter, it should be just peanut butter unsweetened and with no salt added.

Is peanut butter good for dogs

The Real question we need to be asking, is peanut butter good for dogs. Should we be giving peanut butter to our dogs? The answer to that question is more complicated and, in or opinion, leans towards No. Peanut butter is not exactly the greatest thing for our dogs.

There are now hundreds if not thousands of products for our dogs with peanut butter included as an ingredient.

It’s in your relatively standard dog biscuit, it’s used in countless supplements, it’s in at least one raw food, it’s used by probably a decent percentage of the dog cbd industry, Its used in bone broths, goats milk, Kefirs, dog yogurt and ice cream, it’s in some dog jerkys there are even several companies that make peanut butters specifically for dogs.

Peanut Butter is also commonly recommended as a pill pocket. Many people recommend using peanut butter as something to fill a Kong or cover a lick mat for mental stimulation.

Canine Obesity

Before discussing whether we should be giving peanut butter it’s important to talk about canine obesity, which is a genuine problem and contributes to several other health conditions.

A 2.5-year study between January 2016 and June 2018 conducted by Banfield reported that 31.6% of dogs were overweight. Which they acknowledge is likely an underestimate.

A 2018 Clinical Survey conducted by the association for pet obesity prevention found they found that n 36.9% of dogs were classified as Overweight while 18.9% were classified as obese. Due to Covid 19, they are conducting a new survey for 2022

Peanut Butter Nutritional Value

Peanut Butter is around 52% Fat, 22% Protein, and 17% Carbohydrates. Peanut butter is also a good source of many essential vitamins and minerals, but so are many other foods and treats that you can give.

Peanut Butter Caloric Density

That being the case, Peanut Butter is not really something we should generally be adding to our dog’s diets, given the fact that peanut butter is extremely calorie dense with one tablespoon of Whole Foods ORGANIC CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER (not a heaping tablespoon) or 16 grams (.56 oz) providing approximately 105 calories based on Atwater Factors or 97 based on Modified Atwater Factors.

¼ Tsp8.75 kcals
½ Tsp17.5 kcals
1 TSP35 kcals
½ TBSP52.5 kcals
1 TBSP105 kcals

To put that in perspective, 1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter Equals about

0.220 cupsPro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Turkey & Oatmeal Dry Dog Food
0.246 cupsFarmina Lamb & Blueberry Adult Medium & Maxi
0.246 CupsHonest Kitchen Grain Free Beef Clusters
0.258 cupsNatures Logic Canine Beef Meal Feast All Life Stages Dry Dog Food
0.252 pattiesPrimal Beef Patties
0.294 pattiesStella & Chewy’s Chewy’s Chicken Frozen Raw Patties

The Caloric density of peanut butter is one of the reasons why we never considered using peanut butter as a method of providing various beneficial herbs. It is also why we will never make a Peanut Butter Yogurt despite many people asking for a peanut butter yogurt.

Fatty Acids Omega 6 to Omega 3 Ratio

To be labeled complete and balanced, the Maximum Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio is 30 to 1. Most foods aren’t that high, but almost everyone agrees that the ideal Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio is considerably lower. While there is disagreement about the ideal ratio, most agree it should be less than 10 to 1, with even more advocating for less than 5 to 1, and some advocating for even lower ratios.

Generally speaking, when we are looking at adding fats to a dog’s diet, we are usually talking about adding more Omega 3 Fatty Acids, specifically EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA mostly come from Marine Sources, with some limited exceptions.

The reason why you want EPA and DHA is that the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is low in dogs and almost non-existent in cats.

The fact that dogs can convert ALA is one of the reasons why EPA and DHA are not required per AAFCO even though the NRC has adequate and recommended amounts for EPA+DHA. The other reason being is there is limited data demonstrating that it is truly an essential nutritional requirement, (possibly severe consequences when not included in the diet) in adult dogs

It’s important to remember the minimums are based on not developing a nutritional deficiency instead of what the optimal levels should be to support health and well being, and their is plenty of literature demonstrating the benefits of adding in EPA and DHA to our dogs and cats diets.

One thing to pay attention to on your dog or cats’ food is whether they are using plant-based oils such as Flax or Canola oil (primarily ALA).

Effect of Peanut Butter on Omega 6 to Omega 3 Ratio

When we look at peanut butter, the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio is 438 to 1. AKA mainly Omega 6 Fatty Acids. So not the fats that we want to add. Just one tablespoon of peanut butter (Not Heaping) can drastically increase the Omega 6 to Omega 3 Ratio. This can be especially concerning if the food you are currently feeding is already on the mid to higher end of the allowable ratio. To put this in perspective

Let’s say you are feeding the Raised Right Pork. According to their website, it is 368 Calories per cup. That specific formula has an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of 3.59 to 1. When we add one tablespoon of peanut butter, it jumps to 6.03 to 1.

Note this food has a much lower omega 6 to omega 3 ratio than many if not most pet foods across all pet food categories.

While The benefits of fish oils aren’t strictly related to lowering the omega 6:3 ratio of your pets diet; it is one of the benefits. When giving peanut butter to dog’s it does greatly reduce or eliminate that specific benefit.

Copper

Peanut Butter is also a good source of Copper. However research has shown that the levels of copper in dog food may already be too high. As of right now, there is no maximum amount and the copper is rarely listed on food.

What this ultimately means is that we should seek to limit the amount of additional copper we are providing in the form of treats and supplements, and this means limiting the amount of copper rich ingredients.

Conclusion

This isn’t to say you should never give peanut butter to your dog, but that Peanut Butter should be given very sparingly and in small quantities.

There are ultimately better options than peanut butter. There are better options with fewer calories, better omega 6:3 rato, as well as plenty of options that add the correct omega 3s fatty acids (EPA and DHA.

Covering a Lick Mat in Peanut Butter is unquestionably not the best option.

I lightly covered a small lick mat in peanut butter and it came out to 91 grams or 597 Calories or more than 1.5 cups of most commercial pet foods.

Just 16 grams raised the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio by 2.44. Just think of what a lick mat will raise it to.

If your dog is currently overweight, prone to obesity, or a breed prone to obesity (Labradors), then it’s probably best to skip peanut butter altogether.

The Reason for Labradors specifically is that they have a genetic deletion in the POMC (More Prevalent in Service Dog Lines). This turns off the I’m full switch and is the reason why if you have a Lab, they appear to always be hungry.

The same would apply to dogs that have hip dysplasia or arthritis. If you have a dog that needs medication on a regular basis and have been using peanut butter to sneak the dog his or her medication, then try out other things. A Couple of things we have found to be effective

Alternatives to Peanut Butter for Medication

  • Freeze Dried Sardines and Freeze-Dried Mackerel
    • Using them as Pill Pockets is one of the reasons we offer them as Chopped
  • Salmon Skin Rolls (Pockets)
    • This is something we will be releasing shortly. They are sized specifically so that you can put most medication into the middle
  • Canned Food
  • Baby food (Make Sure to Read the ingredients)
  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Ground Meat
  • Part of a Hardboiled Egg

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