Dog owners spoil their pups almost as much (or more than) their own kids. There's now a pet store in most neighbourhoods where we can shop 'till we drop for toys and dog beds and an endless selection of food. We love our dogs and we're not afraid to show it, or to feed them treats. Peanut butter is a healthy favourite treat for adding to chew toys, like Kongs, and the result is often hours of fun for dogs, and even more fun for us as we watch them smack their gums together trying to unstick their lips.
An ingredient commonly found in many human foods —especially desserts, gum, and even peanut butter—is xylitol, and it has no place in the treats you prepare for your dog. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener considered safe for human consumption, but deadly for dogs. Dogs don't metabolize xylitol the same way we do and ingesting even a small amount can cause a drop in blood sugar so extreme it can kill the family pet. Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, and seizures and you should contact your emergency vet clinic immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten something containing xylitol.
But don't start emptying your kitchen pantry just yet; most brands of peanut butter are free of xylitol. There are currently several small name brands that include it in their ingredients. But now you should start keeping an eye on labels, especially if you buy a separate peanut butter just for your dog, where you would have been less likely to read the ingredient list - because the sweetener is cropping up in many other foods and even in toothpastes.
Peanut butter is still a delicious and healthy treat for dogs as long as we’re careful about the brands we buy and we don’t overdo even the healthy kinds. Too much of a good thing is still too much. Look for an all-natural peanut butter if you’re adding it to your dog’s chew toys or food, and limit their intake. And while you’re at it, keep the cookies and muffins away from your pup; store-bought treats for people often contain xylitol too. Try making your own dog treats or buy ones specifically made for them.
Want to know more about what human foods are safe or not safe for dogs? Check out Don't Let Your Dog Eat These Summer BBQ Staples.