Are Peanuts Safe For Dogs?

Can Dogs Eat Peanuts: Are Peanuts Safe For Dogs?

Can dogs eat peanuts? What about peanut butter? Finn discusses their safety and what potential risks they may pose to your dog.

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Have you ever grabbed a handful of peanuts to snack on, only to look down and see your dog watching your every move? 

If your dog is anything like ours, once they notice you looking, they start to pile it on thick — those big puppy dog eyes, maybe volunteering a trick or two, perhaps whining just a little bit to make sure you know they’re serious. Maybe a little howl or growl if it’s a spitz dog. 

You’ve probably considered throwing them one just to make them stop, but can dogs eat peanuts or peanut derivatives? The answer is more complicated than you think.

Can Dogs Eat Plain Peanuts?

If we’re talking about plain peanuts, the hesitant answer from most veterinary professionals is yes, in moderation and with a few specific ground rules.

The first factor to consider before giving your dog peanuts is if they’ve had them in the past. Although unlikely, there is always the slight possibility that your dog could have a dangerous anaphylactic reaction to them. 

The other factor is how big your dog is. Small dogs, especially toy breeds, may choke on them if they eat them too fast. Peanuts are just the right size to lodge in a small dog’s throat, making it difficult for your dog to breathe.

However, when given occasionally, plain, unshelled, unsalted peanuts are usually safe for your dog.

What Are the Health Benefits of Peanuts?

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Both peanuts and peanut butter are packed full of nutritional properties that can benefit your dog’s health. For instance, peanuts are incredibly protein-rich. Protein is one of the essential components of a dog’s diet, as it is needed to help give your dog energy and build strong bones and muscles. 

In addition, peanuts have plenty of vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to function at their best. Vitamins B3, B6, and E are found in abundance, each with its own special function to perform in the body. They are also full of healthy fats that can help maintain the hair and skin when eaten in moderation.

Do the Peanuts Need To Be Unshelled and Unsalted?

Why so much focus on the exact type of peanuts your dog can eat? Because not following these recommendations can have a few potentially serious repercussions. 

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The Importance of Unshelled Peanuts

As we said, peanuts pose a choking hazard to smaller dogs. However, if you don’t remove them from their shells ahead of time, that choking risk increases significantly, even for larger dogs. Unfortunately, choking can look very different in dogs because they can’t tell us that they’re struggling, so our job as pet owners is to monitor them and know the signs

Any dog that is experiencing difficulty breathing, blue-tinged tongue or lips, excessive pawing at the mouth, or making a choking sound when breathing or coughing immediately after eating needs immediate veterinary attention.

It’s also important to note that dogs who are choking are far more likely to bite out of fear, so don’t attempt to feel around in their mouth unless absolutely necessary. 

Why Unsalted?

We’re far more likely to have honey-roasted or other flavored nuts lying around the house instead of just plain, unsalted peanuts. Unfortunately, although they are much more delicious as a snack during our day, they pose other risks. 

First of all, dogs are not meant to eat excessive amounts of salt. Like with humans, regular consumption of large amounts of salt can have a catastrophic impact on the body. High blood pressure, dehydration, and kidney damage are just some of the possibilities, so it’s important to monitor your dog’s diet and make sure they aren’t getting any more than recommended by their veterinarian. 

In addition, certain flavorings used on snack peanuts can be dangerous all on their own. Peanuts with extra spice (especially cayenne) or coated in garlic can not just be uncomfortable for your dog to eat but can also be toxic. 

What Do I Do If My Dog Has an Allergic Reaction to Peanuts?

As we said, it is relatively rare for a dog to have an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, so you should be aware of the red flags that may be happening to your dog. 

Most of the signs of allergic reactions in dogs are very similar to the symptoms that occur in humans, except that our dogs can’t tell us what’s going on. These include:

  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Swelling (especially in the face or muzzle)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

In the event of a systemic anaphylactic reaction, you’ll likely also see trouble breathing, and your dog’s gums and tongue may start to turn blue. This is an emergency, life-threatening situation and needs to be immediately evaluated and treated by your veterinarian. Do not attempt to treat any allergic reaction at home without the guidance of a vet. 

Is Peanut Butter Safe?

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Peanut butter is a familiar flavor for dog treats, but can dogs eat peanut butter safely? And are there limits on how you should give it to your dog?

The answer to both of those questions is yes. Peanut butter can be a safe treat for your dog in moderation, but there are limits to how often you should give it to them.

Also, before giving your dog peanut butter, make sure that it does not contain a sugar substitute called xylitol. While the chemical is safe for humans to consume, it is toxic for dogs. When dogs eat xylitol, it causes the rapid release of insulin. As insulin is responsible for balancing out the amount of blood sugar in the body, too much of it can drastically and dangerously lower the blood sugar and lead to hypoglycemia.  

Most medium to large dogs can eat a teaspoon of peanut butter twice a day. However, dogs who struggle with obesity or have health conditions that affect their blood sugar (like diabetes) should only get peanut butter minimally. 

What Are Some Fun Ways To Use Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter is one of the best treat options for dogs because you can use it in more unique and fun ways than many other products. 

One of our favorite ways to use peanut butter to treat our dogs is to put it in a chew toy and freeze it overnight. Dogs with anxiety or those who are aggressive, obsessive chewers will specifically benefit from this technique because it helps to keep them busy for more extended periods. 

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If you don’t have a chew toy like that, or if your dog just doesn’t care for them, you can also freeze peanut butter in ice cube trays. Doing this allows them to enjoy the peanut butter without having as much impact on their teeth. However, be aware that this does encourage slightly more of a mess than giving peanut butter in a chew toy would, so you may want to save this idea for the outdoors when the weather gets warmer. 

You can also use peanut butter to make your own dog treats. There are plenty of recipes available online, as long as you make sure to find a reputable source and verify that all the ingredients are safe for your dog. 

Are All Nuts Safe for Dogs?

So peanuts are okay in moderation, but does that extend to other nuts as well?

Unfortunately, just like most things in life, the answer to that isn’t black and white. Nuts need to be considered individually, and some nuts are safe and nuts that are unsafe. 

Take macadamia nuts, for instance. While peanuts don’t pose any severe risks to dogs, macadamia nuts can’t make the same claim. 

According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control, dogs eating macadamia nuts can experience weakness, vomiting, depression, tremors, and hypothermia within 12 hours. These signs can last up to 48 hours and may become life-threatening in some situations. 

Other nuts, like almonds, pecans, and walnuts, can also be problematic. These nuts contain high amounts of fats and oils, which can be very upsetting to your dog’s GI system. 

This upset may even lead to a more severe condition known as pancreatitis in particularly sensitive dogs. While it’s often not a problem if your dog accidentally snags a dropped nut, any more than one can quickly trigger health issues. 

In Summary

Can dogs eat peanuts? Yes, as long as they are unshelled and unsalted and only given in moderation. 

However, while raw peanuts still pose some risk to dogs (even when used as recommended), peanut butter offers the opportunity to treat your dog in a safe, fun way. Stick with Finn for more ways to support your dog’s health and wellness.


Pet first aid – Basic procedures | American Veterinary Medical Association 

Xylitol Toxicosis in Dogs - Toxicology | Merck Veterinary Manual 

People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets | ASPCA



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