Walk through the dog aisles of any pet store, and you’ll find a plethora of peanut butter-based treats and toys. After all, dogs go nuts for peanut butter; it’s no secret. You’ve probably even bought some before. Or maybe you’ve used a peanut butter filled Kong toy to keep your dog occupied while you trim their nails. Hint: it works pretty well.
If you have a kid who’s allergic to peanuts, you probably don’t want to have any peanut butter in the house, but you still want to give your dog a treat they love. So what about other types of nut butter?
Fortunately, any nut can be turned into butter, and probably has, thanks to our insatiable need for variety – it’s the spice of life, remember?
Nut Butters Your Dog Can Eat
Several different nut butters serve as a perfect treat for your dog. But only as an occasional treat, a dog’s diet should never consist solely of peanut butter or any other nut butter, as I’m sure you know.
Certain nut butters even provide some health benefits for your dog in the form of protein, vitamins, and healthy fats. Just be sure they don’t have any added salt, sugar, or artificial sweeteners. Especially xylitol.
Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and is used as a sugar substitute in a number of foods, including some types of peanut butter and other nut butters. Check the ingredients beforehand; if there’s no xylitol, you’re good to go.
But let’s get onto the list of dog-safe nut butters.
Peanut butter is easily the most common and readily available nut butter that’s safe for your dog to eat. It’s in every grocery store and loaded in products throughout the pet store. It’s also rich in protein, vitamin B, niacin, and more, which support your dog’s coat, skin, and immune system.
Just like humans can be allergic to peanuts, so can dogs – but don’t worry, it’s pretty rare.
Peanuts also contain aflatoxin, which is typically harmless to dogs, but it can build up over time if a dog frequently consumes large quantities of peanut butter and potentially lead to liver failure. Another reason to moderate the peanut butter treats.
Cashew butter is another nut butter that’s perfectly safe for your dog as long as it’s unsalted and unsweetened. It’s high in protein, iron, and magnesium, which help your dog’s muscles, bones, and blood.
But just like any nut, they are high in fat and calories, so whether it’s roasted cashews or cashew butter, you should only give it to your dog in moderation. It’s also possible for dogs to be allergic to cashews, so if your dog has never had them, be sure to watch for a reaction the first few times.
Almonds are an interesting one on this list. The almond itself is not toxic to dogs, but they are nearly impossible for your dog to digest and can cause blockages or other gastrointestinal problems, so they are on the big “No” list of nuts dogs can eat. Almond butter, on the other hand, is perfectly fine for your dog in very small amounts.
Some of the benefits of almond butter are the vitamin E, calcium, and antioxidants they contain, which support your dog’s overall health.
Chestnut butter is probably one of our favorite nut butters on the list. It’s safe for your dog to eat, and compared to other nut butter, it’s actually lower in fat and calories while being high in fiber and vitamin C.
Not all dogs like the taste or texture of chestnut butter, and it’s also more difficult to find than other nut butter. But if you can find it, and if your dog likes it, give it a shot.
Nuts and Nut Butters to Avoid
Not all nuts are safe for dogs to eat, even in butter form. They can cause serious health problems and even death in some cases. Be sure to keep them out of reach!
- Macadamia nuts and macadamia nut butter: Macadamia nuts are highly toxic to dogs, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, weakness, and hyperthermia. Even a small amount of macadamia nuts can be fatal to your dog, so do not give them any macadamia nut butter or products that contain it.
- Walnuts and walnut butter: Walnuts contain a chemical called Juglone which is toxic to dogs and can cause seizures, neurological damage, and kidney failure. Keep them away from your dog!
- Pecans and pecan butter: Some pecans contain Juglone, just like walnuts, but not all. Even if they don’t, they are still high in fat and calories and it’s best to just keep them away from your dog. Pecans also contain higher levels of aflatoxins compared to peanuts.
- Pistachios and pistachio butter: Pistachios are not toxic to dogs, but they are considered a no-no for your dog because of their higher levels of fat, salt, and calories. Technically your dog can eat very small amounts of pistachios but there are better options.
Nut Butter is Best in Moderation
Nut butter can be a tasty and nutritious treat for your dog if you choose the right kind and remember not to overdo it.
Some extra tips to remember when considering feeding your dog any kind of nut butter are:
- Choose a natural or organic nut butter that does not contain any added sugar, salt, or artificial sweeteners. Avoid nut butter that contains xylitol.
- Give your dog only a small amount of nut butter, no more than a teaspoon per day. You can use nut butter as a reward, a training tool, or a way to hide pills or supplements. You can also spread nut butter on a toy, a bone, or a slice of apple for your dog to enjoy.
- Monitor your dog’s reaction to nut butter, and stop giving it if you notice any signs of allergy, intolerance, or toxicity. These signs may include itching, scratching, swelling, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or abnormal behavior. If you suspect your dog has eaten something harmful, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Should I Give My Dog Nut Butter?
At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference. I give my dogs peanut butter and think it’s a fantastic treat with some health benefits – but more importantly (to me), my dogs are so happy when they get some.
While it’s true that peanut, almond, cashew, and chestnut butters are safe for your dog to eat in small quantities, the same can’t be said for pecans, pistachios, walnuts, or macadamia nuts. And just because some nuts are safe doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to feed them in nut form to your dog. Stick to butter form and remove the choking hazard from the equation.