While some dogs will turn their noses up at peanuts, others can’t resist them and would eat whole peanuts or even peanut butter if given half a chance. Some owners even stuff bouncy dog toys with peanut butter to make them especially appealing for their canine friends.
Before serving peanuts or any other nuts to a dog, it’s important to know whether they are safe, the potential health advantages and risks and which form is best for dogs to eat.
Are Peanuts Poisonous for Dogs?
There hasn’t been a lot of research carried out on the effects of peanuts on dogs. However, peanuts are not known to be poisonous to canines. It’s probably safe to feed peanut products occasionally to most dogs. Just like humans, some dogs are allergic to peanuts. It’s important to supervise the dog carefully after eating peanuts, especially for the first time, and be vigilant for signs of an allergic reaction.2
Symptoms of Peanut Allergy in Dogs
The symptoms of a peanut allergy in dogs may be immediately apparent or develop over time if the dog is regularly fed peanuts or peanut butter as a treat.
They may appear to have hayfever, with a runny nose and red, itching eyes. Their skin may also become itchy. Some dogs with a peanut allergy will vomit or develop digestive discomfort or diarrhea.3
If a dog has a very severe peanut allergy, they may go into anaphylactic shock if they are exposed to even minute traces of peanuts. This causes the airways to swell and stops the dog from breathing properly. If not treated promptly, anaphylactic shock can be fatal.
A dog in anaphylactic shock will need an injection of adrenaline very quickly to save their life.
Are Peanuts Healthy For Dogs?
Peanuts contain high levels of protein, vitamins B-6 and E and healthy fats, all of which are good for dogs. However, they are very calorie-dense due to their high-fat content and could cause dogs to gain excess weight. They may also cause an upset stomach if eaten in large quantities.
If a dog eats peanuts excessively, this could cause a painful condition called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas caused by eating too much fat.
Which Peanuts Are Best For Dogs?
When feeding a dog whole peanuts, either raw or roasted, are both safe. However, it’s important to choose unsalted and unsweetened peanuts and avoid any that come with a coating or extra flavoring. Too much salt can cause sodium ion poisoning, while sugary foods can cause weight gain, stomach upsets, and damage their teeth.6
The occasional lick of peanut butter is safe for dogs as long as it’s a natural version. Many brands are loaded with extra sugar and salt, making them unsuitable for dogs.
It’s also important to check the label to make sure the peanut butter doesn’t contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol. Xylitol is poisonous to dogs, causing seizures and liver failure, and the effects can be fatal.7
Can Dogs Eat Peanut Shells?
Although they aren’t toxic, peanut shells aren’t suitable food for dogs. Their rough texture can cause digestive problems and may lead to an intestinal blockage. If a dog consumes peanut shells by accident, they will probably pass them without issue. However, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian if they start vomiting, have diarrhea, or show signs of abdominal pain after eating peanut shells.8
How Many Peanuts Should a Dog Eat?
Eating large quantities of peanuts isn’t good for dogs, especially if they eat them on a regular basis. They should be given as a small snack or treat and never as an entire meal. It’s best to limit their intake to a few individual nuts or a small spoonful of peanut butter.9
Using Peanut Butter to Give Medication
Some dogs are resistant to taking medication. Hiding it inside a tasty treat like peanut butter can make it easier to medicate the dog as they are likely to lap it up without noticing.
Before giving medication hidden in peanut butter, it’s important to check the accompanying leaflet to check it’s suitable to be given with food. A veterinarian will be able to advise whether particular medicines can be safely given with peanut butter.10
Can Dogs Eat Other Nuts?
Dogs can eat cashews and hazelnuts safely as long as they are unsalted, unsweetened, and they consume them in small quantities. Pistachios and almonds aren’t toxic to dogs but are likely to cause stomach upset. Hickory nuts, pecans, walnuts, and macadamias are poisonous to dogs. If a dog consumes any of these nuts, even in small quantities, they should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.