Are Peanuts Safe for Dogs?

Important Information for Pet Owners

According to search engine analysis, one of the most-frequently searched topics online is “dogs and nuts.”

Pet owners are clearly interested in knowing which nuts are dangerous for their dogs to eat. Which is a good thing, because many commonly-eaten nuts can be toxic to dogs, including almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia and pecans.

But what about good, old-fashioned peanuts? Are peanuts safe for dogs to eat?

Safe But Beware Possible Side Effects

Peanuts in a bowl

The good news: peanuts are not considered toxic to dogs. However, it’s important to understand that while peanuts are safe to use in dog cookies and other treats, they are high in fat.

Dogs have a more difficult time digesting fat. A high concentration of fat can cause an upset stomach, including diarrhea and vomiting.

Dogs who consume too much fat can develop a very painful condition called pancreatitis. This happens when the dog’s pancreas becomes inflammatory due to the consumption of fat. While your dog can receive treatment for pancreatitis, it’s one of the most painful conditions he’ll experience, so try to avoid that from happening.

Avoid Salted Peanuts

Pug puppy

If you are going to give your dog a peanut treat — like stuffing your pooch’s Kong toy with peanut butter or whipping up a homemade cookie treat — use a low-sodium peanut butter or lower-salted peanuts.

Too much salt can lead to sodium ion toxicosis.

Do not use almond butter, sometimes mistaken as an acceptable substitution. Also, do not feed your dog made-for-people treats that have peanuts (i.e., peanut butter cups and other candy bars; chocolate is toxic to dogs) as this could lead to accidental poisoning.

Check Ingredients for Xylitol

With the introduction of a variety of nut butters to the market, it's wise to check the ingredients for the sugar substitute xylitol, which is extremely toxic to dogs. Currently, three peanut butter brands contain xylitol, including Nuts 'n More, Krush Nutrition and P-28 Foods. Be sure to read the nutritional ingredients. "Natural sweetener" may be a clue that the peanut butter is sweetened with xylitol, which can be labeled as "sugar alcohol," its chemical classification.

While xylitol may be safe for people, it's not safe for pets. Even a very small amount of xylitol could send your dog into hypoglycemia—a dangerous drop in blood sugar—that is often fatal, and destroy liver cells. If your dog ingests xylitol, immediate veterinary care is recommended. Signs of xylitol toxicity include disorientation, staggering, panting, collapsing and seizures.

Xylitol can also be found in toothpaste, chewing gum, candy and vitamins, to name a few. To learn more about xylitol poisoning, read our in-depth article.

Portion Control

The rule of thumb: Don’t overdo it. Limit your dog’s consumption of peanuts to that of an occasional treat, not a meal. Due to its high concentration of fats, too much peanut butter can lead to pancreatitis, a very painful health condition for dogs.

If you have concerns or questions about feeding your dog peanuts, discuss it with your veterinarian, who is familiar with your dog’s health and nutrition.

For more information on toxic nuts, read about Nut Dangers to Dogs and check out our Nut Dangers Infographic.