Puppies tend to eat everything they come across. Socks? Sure. Rocks? You bet. Trash in the kitchen? Delicious! So, it’s not surprising if your puppy yearns to taste every kind of food you have in the house. The question is, which foods are safe for puppies? Are there foods that are okay for an adult dog to eat that you should avoid giving your puppy? Or, can puppies eat some things that adult dogs should avoid? For example, can puppies have peanut butter? Let’s find out.
Peanut Butter Nutrition
Peanut butter is generally very nutritious. That doesn’t mean that you or your puppy/dog should pig out on it. The nutritional information here is based on ordinary peanut butter that you can buy in a grocery store.
Peanut butter has about 15 percent protein, 13 percent carbohydrates, and 72 percent fats. It’s very low in cholesterol. It’s also a good source of niacin and manganese. Five percent of the carbs in peanut butter are fiber.
Peanuts and peanut butter are considered to be a good plant-based source of protein but they do not provide all of the essential amino acids you or your dog require.
Peanut butter is considered to be a good addition to a low-carb diet. It is also a good option for people with diabetes type-2 as long as it doesn’t have a lot of added sugar. It doesn’t raise blood sugar levels very quickly. Oleic acid and antioxidants in peanut butter may be responsible for these benefits.
Peanut butter is rich in antioxidants such as p-coumaric acid which has been found to reduce arthritis in rats. It also contains some resveratrol which is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases in animals.
One cup of peanut butter (258 grams) contains 1517 calories. This serving amount is very high in fat (130 grams). However, it is also high in protein (64.7 grams), vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
For a smaller portion, such as 100 grams (3.5 ounces), the calorie count is 597 calories which is still a lot.
While peanut butter is high in calories and fats, the fats are considered to be healthy fats. Half of the fat in peanut butter comes from oleic acid which is a healthy type of monounsaturated fat that is also found in large amounts in olive oil. Oleic acid has been connected to health benefits such as improved insulin sensitivity.
When looking at the health benefits of peanut butter it’s important to weigh them against the calories. Peanut butter can be a healthy snack, in moderation, but eating too much can lead to weight gain.
Some peanut butters are relatively unprocessed. They are basically peanuts (often roasted) that are ground until they turn into a paste. You can make this kind of peanut butter yourself at home in a food processor.
Other peanut butters, especially commercial brands, usually have added sugar, vegetable oils, and trans fats, as well as salt. Some of them use an artificial sweetener such as xylitol which is toxic to dogs.
If you make your own peanut butter from nuts or buy peanut butter from a non-commercial source, be sure that the peanut butter is properly processed and the peanuts are from a good source. Peanuts, which grow underground, can be subject to the Aspergillus mold which leads to aflatoxins. Aflatoxins have been linked to some serious health problems, especially in developing countries. Processing peanuts into peanut butter, as is done by commercial manufacturers, significantly reduces this risk. If you are buying your own peanuts you should throw out any peanuts that are moldy, shriveled, or discolored.
Can Puppies Have Peanut Butter?
Most adult dogs love peanut butter and puppies are no different. Yes, puppies can have peanut butter, but only small amounts. Like adult dogs – and humans – many puppies will overeat peanut butter if they get the opportunity. You will need to restrict and monitor how much peanut butter you let your puppy have.
It’s also a good idea to wait until your puppy is fully weaned from his mother before you give him any peanut butter. After he is weaned, usually around 4-5 weeks, he will be eating solid foods. At this time you can let him have a taste (just a taste) of different foods, including a little peanut butter. You can wait until he has fully transitioned to a regular puppy diet when he is 2-3 months of age before you give him anything like dog cookies made with peanut butter or a frozen Kong toy that is stuffed with peanut butter.
Are There Any Problems with Giving Your Puppy Peanut Butter?
There are several potential problems with giving puppies peanut butter. We have already mentioned some of them in passing.
- Most puppies will gorge themselves on peanut butter if they get the chance. While peanut butter has many health benefits, it has lots of calories. Puppies do not need to stuff themselves with all of those calories. That’s too many calories from food that is basically a treat. Your puppy needs to be eating a complete diet that isn’t based on peanut butter for healthy growth.
- While peanut butter can be a good source of plant protein, peanuts are legumes. Protein from legumes are very low in the amino acids methionine and cysteine compared with animal protein. Dogs and humans cannot get all of the amino acids they need from eating the protein in peanut butter.
- Peanut butter has some healthy fats but it also has other fats which are not as healthy. Commercial peanut butter can also have added sugar and salt. Too much of these ingredients can lead your puppy to a bout of diarrhea if he eats a lot of peanut butter.
- Some commercial peanut butters contain the artificial sweetener xylitol which is toxic to dogs. Eating just a small amount can be deadly to some dogs. Before you buy any peanut butter, examine the ingredient list to make sure it doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners. Other names for xylitol include: Birch Sugar, E967, Meso-Xylitol, Méso-Xylitol, Sucre de Bouleau, Xilitol, Xylit, Xylite, Xylo-pentane-1,2,3,4,5-pentol.
- Other peanut butters and spreads can also pose problems for your puppy. For example, do not give your puppy any peanut butter that also contains chocolate since chocolate can be harmful to dogs. Chunky or crunchy peanut butter may also be problematic for some puppies, depending on their size.
If you are buying peanut butter for your dog, plain, creamy peanut butter is best. Look for a peanut butter that has few ingredients. The ingredients that it has should be items that you recognize with nothing that could harm your puppy.
How Much Peanut Butter Can You Give Your Puppy?
Since puppies are all different sizes, the best way to determine how much peanut butter you can give your puppy is based on how many calories he eats per day. The rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t give your dog or puppy more than about 10 percent of his calories in treats/snacks. For example, if your dog normally gets about 800 calories per day, you could give him about 80 calories in peanut butter.
How Often Can You Give Your Puppy Peanut Butter?
It’s best not to give your puppy peanut butter on a daily basis. This is a creamy treat that’s high in calories and fats. If you give it to your puppy too often he could have problems with loose stools or weight gain.
However, many people do use peanut butter, in small amounts, as a reward when they are training their pup. This is a high value reward so it makes a good treat when your puppy has done something extra good.
You could use peanut butter in small amounts during training sessions two or three times per week. Or, if you are stuffing a Kong and freezing it for your puppy to lick, you could use it that way two or three days per week.
If you are using peanut butter to make special dog cookies for your puppy, once per week would be enough.
Peanut butter has lots of nice health benefits but those benefits have to be weighed against the calories and fat in the food. You can give your puppy peanut butter in small amounts but not on a daily basis. Too much peanut butter, too often, can lead to weight gain and loose stools. Give your puppy peanut butter in moderation and he should be happy and healthy.