Peanut Butter and Xylitol

Ingredients Matter

Many pet owners give peanut butter to their dogs and cats, often as a treat or as a means to conceal medication.

In fact, peanut butter is given to pets so often, one of the most frequent online searches is “are peanuts safe for dogs?” Peanuts — and peanut butter — are safe for dogs. What’s not safe is an ingredient added to some peanut butter brands (and other edible products and medications)—xylitol.

Xylitol is Extremely Toxic to Dogs

“While xylitol may be safe for people,” warns Dr. Renee Schmid, veterinarian and xylitol expert at Pet Poison Helpline, “it's not safe for dogs.  Even a very small amount of xylitol could cause your dog to develop a rapid drop in blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, as well as potential liver damage.  Both of these effects can be fatal for dogs.”

If your dog ingests xylitol, immediate veterinary care is recommended. Signs of xylitol toxicity include disorientation, staggering, panting, collapse and seizures.

To learn more about xylitol poisoning, read our in-depth article

Which Peanut Butter Brands Include Xylitol?

Dog eats table scraps

Currently, the most likely sources of peanut butter containing xylitol are from smaller companies with specialty brands such as Nuts ‘n More.  Regardless, always be sure to read the nutritional ingredients of any product you intend to feed to your pet, even with those that do not specifically state they are sugar-free. "Natural sweetener" or “Sugar-Free” may be a clue that the peanut butter is sweetened with xylitol, which can be labeled as "sugar alcohol” in the nutrition facts of the ingredient label.

Other Sources of Xylitol?

Xylitol can be found in products such as:

  • Peanut butter and other nut butters
  • Chewable, quick dissolve and liquid vitamins and dietary supplements
  • Sugar-Free chewing gum, candy and mints
  • Energy drinks
  • Sugar-Free foods including ice cream and pudding
  • Nicotine gum
  • Dental/oral care products, including toothpaste
  • Nasal sprays
  • Prescription suspensions/melts (e.g., Neurontin®, Abilify®, Allegra®, Mobic®, RioMet®, clonazepam, Emtrivia®)
  • Compounded prescription medications
  • OTC chewable, quick dissolve and liquid medications
  • Lotions, deodorants, skin gels

About Pet Poison Helpline

Pet Poison Helpline is a 24/7 animal poison control service available for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance with treating a potentially poisoned pet.  Their experts can consult on all toxins and all species.  Pet Poison Helpline is the most cost-effective animal poison control service and is available in North America, Canada and the Caribbean by calling 855-289-0358. Pet Poison Helpline is free for all Nationwide pet insurance members.