Who doesn’t like peanut butter? The lovely creamy, nutty taste is a breakfast time favorite of many households.
If you like the taste of it, just imagine what a Labrador Retriever thinks of peanut butter, a breed synonymous with its love of food.
We all know that too much peanut butter is bad for humans, but are our Labradors able to eat peanut butter? Is it safe for them to have any at all or is it going to cause inevitable health issues?
In the article I’ll tell you everything I know about Labradors and peanut butter, the answer is an important one because really, it depends on a few different factors.
Hopefully, once you’ve read this you’ll know a little bit more about the benefits and risks of feeding your pet pooch this nutty treat.
Labrador Retrievers can eat some types of peanut butter. However, Xylitol, an ingredient of some peanut butter products is toxic to all dogs. There is also some peanut butter which has many added ingredients that are not very healthy for dogs. Whilst more natural peanut butter is technically fine, you should take caution if you’re planning to feed it to your Labrador Retriever.
The most important thing to say here is that some peanut butter contains Xylitol.
This is extremely harmful to your pet Labrador and is actually toxic to dogs. You will find Xylitol in many sugar-free variations of peanut butter.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener and completely harmless to humans but in dogs ingestion of Xylitol can cause a rapid release of insulin, leading to a rapid decrease in blood sugar levels.
This condition can actually be fatal if left untreated so it is really important that if you are thinking of giving peanut butter to your dog you must check its contents for Xylitol first.
It also acts as a reminder that just because something seems ‘healthier’ for humans i.e. a sugar-free product, it can actually be very bad for your Labrador, so it is always worth check what food they can and cannot eat if you’re in doubt.
Should Labrador Retrievers eat peanut butter
We have discussed the vital importance of checking your peanut butter for Xylitol as it is toxic for your Labrador
But assuming your peanut butter doesn’t contain this harmful substance, should you still be feeding your dog peanut butter.
Technically, as long as it doesn’t contain Xylitol then peanut butter will not harm your dog. Of course those, like many foods, this is all about moderation and a little common sense.
Peanut butter varies greatly in their quality of ingredients. Whilst they may not be toxic for your Labrador, many of those ingredients are not going to be good for their general health and aren’t really a necessity for a balanced diet.
Let’s take a look at added ingredients found in some peanut butter which aren’t particularly good for your Labrador Retrievers health.
Added ingredients are usually bad for Labradors
Salt is often added to peanut butter.
Salt and peanuts are a classic combination, and although Labradors do need a certain amount of salt it is only really a very small amount.
If you think about how hard salt is to come by in the wild (except for perhaps at the coast) then you will start to understand how little salt is actually required for a balanced diet.
The likelihood is that your Labrador will get enough salt from their normal daily food. Having too much salt in a Labrador diet could lead to sodium ion poisoning so it is best to avoid foods with added salt in general.
We have discussed how sweetener can be toxic to a Labrador. Whilst added sugar won’t be toxic it can, of course, be bad for the health of your dog.
When a Labrador ingests excess sugar which it can’t turn to energy it will begin to be stored as fat, as a result, the Labrador may experience weight gain and higher blood pressure.
Many peanut butter uses a hydrogenated oil to bind the mixture together.
The fat contained in hydrogenated oil is very difficult for your Labradors body to utilize, it just takes too much energy for the body to convert these fats.
It is known as stubborn fat, this has a double negative effect as the body uses a large amount of energy trying to break down these fats, increasing the internal temperature of the stomach which can create health issues of its own, then once the fat has failed to break down it is store in the dog’s body, creating weight gain and all the associated health issues.
Natural products are usually the best
So, we can start to understand that the question of whether Labrador Retrievers can eat peanut butter is a little more complicated than it first seems. Ultimately, it really depends on which peanut butter you’re using.
Peanut butter containing Xylitol is toxic to Labradors and ones containing lots of added ingredients can cause an imbalance in your Labradors diet.
If you do want to feed your Labrador peanut butter then the best option would be to choose as natural a product as possible, with no sweetener and little to no added sugar, salt or hydrogenated oil.
There are generally going to be quite premium brands of peanut butter and may not be the best selling brands you’re likely to pick up for yourself, but they really should be the only types of peanut butter you purchase for your pooch.
Alternatively, you can always make your own peanut butter at home. That way you know exactly which ingredients are going into the mixture and you can exclude anything which might be harmful to your Labrador.
Another alternative is to exclude the complication of peanut butter entirely. Natural peanuts themselves do actually have some health benefits for Labrador Retriever, without all the complications of added ingredients.
Health benefits of peanuts for Labradors
Labrador Retrievers can eat peanuts, and the restrictions are far less complicated than with peanut butter
Just be sure to stay away from salted and roasted peanuts as the added salt and sugars will create an imbalance in your Labradors diet.
You should only feed your Labrador plain, ready peeled peanuts.
There are some benefits to feeding your Labrador peanuts too:
Nuts are known for their high protein content and this can be great for your Labrador Retriever.
Protein helps to maintain and repair cells and other tissues, it helps support the immune system and it aids in generating hormones, antibodies and enzymes.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to neutralize ‘free radicals’, these are atoms that can cause harm to other cells in your dog’s body.
It also aids in keeping a well functioning immune system and good skin health, giving a lovely shiny coat to your Labrador.
This vitamin helps maintain red blood cells generation and good nervous system function, as well as keeping a strong immune response in the dog.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B3 has many health benefits for your Labrador, including the breakdown of fatty acids which helps maintain an effective metabolism, maintain good cognitive function and ensure a healthy digestive tract.
Health risks of peanuts for Labradors
You must always ensure not to give too many peanuts to your Labrador as they can have some side effects.
Peanuts are so highly packed with protein, vitamins and minerals that it doesn’t take too many to start causing an imbalance in your pet’s diet.
Peanuts are extremely high in protein. As I’ve discussed above this can have many health benefits for your Labrador and protein is a vital part of a balanced diet for your dog. However, as peanuts are so high in protein it can be very easy for a Labrador to have too much.
Ultimately, when too much protein-rich food is digested by a Labrador only a certain amount can be digested and absorbed to perform all of those health-beneficial tasks such as muscle repair.
The remaining protein will either be broken down and used as energy or stored as fat.
Peanuts are so high in protein that if you give your Labrador too many, the majority of the protein will end up being stored as fat.
A key indicator of a Labrador having too much protein in their system is if yellow patches are left when your dog has left their mark on your lawn.
How much peanut butter can my Labrador eat
It’s really important to use caution and a bit of common sense if you’re planning to feed your Labrador Retriever peanut butter.
Do not use any products containing Xylitol. Try to source the most natural products you can with little or no added salt, sugar or hydrogenated oil.
Even better would be to make the peanut butter yourself using only ‘dog-friendly’ ingredients.
Peanut butter should only be a treat so limit to a maximum of a spoonful every few days.
The same goes for raw peanuts themselves, a Labrador should only have three or four peanuts every three days.
Always be cautious with new foods
As ever with Labrador diets, you should always mention them after you have given them a new type of food. Check for irregular bowel movements or discomfort over the next day or so.
Ultimately all Labradors are different and some will not react well with peanuts.
My own Labrador (George) was very allergic to many foods which would be perfectly safe for other Labradors, so if you think something isn’t right then stop feeding your dog peanut related food and consult with your vet.