Pretty much every dog owner knows that dogs LOVE peanut butter, but are there other nut butters that dogs can eat safely?
The answer to this is yes, there are other tasty, nutritious options to peanut butter that Fido might love just as much as peanut butter.
Some types of nuts are toxic to dogs, and you should obviously never give those to your dog, including as butter.
Others nuts can be dangerous in their natural, whole, state but safe to be eaten as nut butter.
So, before all of that that drives YOU nuts, here's what you need to know about nut butters and which ones dogs can eat safely!
Nut butters that are safe for dogs include:
Nut butters that are NOT safe for dogs include:
Even nuts which are not toxic to dogs can be problematic due to their size and shape making them a choking hazard, or because their high fat content might cause health issues such as an upset stomach or other digestive problem, or lead to weight gain.
Although fairly uncommon, dogs (just like their pet parents) can have nut allergies. Dogs who have dietary sensitivities to nuts are most likely to present as digestive issues (eg. diarrhea, and excess gas).
Allergic responses include skin problems (eg. itching, hair loss, hot spots), ear problems (including inflammation, head shaking, ear scratching etc.).
Hypersensitivity to nuts (ie a serious or anaphylactic reaction) is extremely rare, but theoretically could happen.
Symptoms of a severe reaction would include hives, swelling, vomiting/diarrhea, intense itching, swelling of the face, tongue and/or lips, difficulty breathing.
This type of reaction is an emergency and needs immediate veterinary attention!
When making dog treats the amount of nut butter used is often pretty small, but it's still important to choose butters made with limited ingredients (ie no added salt, extra sugar etc.).
Also in certain instances only cooked/roasted nuts should have been used (eg cashew butter), and when looking at different peanut butter brands please check the list of ingredients carefully and NEVER use brands of peanut butter that contain Xylitol.
Xylitol is HIGHLY poisonous to dogs, even in tiny amounts, and causes extremely low blood sugar which leads to even more serious health complications.
It's also important to know that Xylitol is beginning to be listed on ingredient labels as 'Birch Sugar'. No matter what it's called, it's the same thing and very toxic!
Nuts should never be a regular part of any dog's diet, and nut butters should be an occasional treat, given only in small amounts.
When buying nut butters to use in my dog treat recipes I choose organic, natural butters which don't contain additives, preservatives, oils etc.
Beware of nut 'spreads' because these contain less nuts (about 60%) and more fillers, one of which may be palm oil.
Palm oil is not good for dogs and can cause diarrhea and stomach upset, so best avoided. If you always remember to read ingredient labels you can avoid these pitfalls and keep your pet safe.
The nut butters in this group are tasty, safe for dogs and have nutritional value. Use
You can safely use almond butter in your dog treat recipes. It's delicious and nutritious but, as is true of all nut butters, it has a high fat content and may cause diarrhea, loose stools or tummy upset in sensitive dogs or if given in generous quantities.
If your dog has any digestive upset after eating almond butter, or dog treats containing it, choose from one of the other nut butter great options instead.
Cashew butter is creamy and delicious, and can be safely used when baking treats for your dog.
But there is one important thing to be aware of... raw cashews can contain toxins which could make your dog really sick so only use cashew butter made from cooked or roasted nuts.
Dogs cannot have raw cashew butter.
Although hazelnuts themselves are dangerous to dogs due to their size and shape which makes them a choking hazard, especially for small dogs, hazelnut butter is safe for dogs.
It makes a sweet and tasty alternative to some of the more obvious choices.
In fact hazelnuts are rich in healthy fats, and contain vitamin E and trace minerals and are easier on the digestive system than many other nuts.
Of course peanut butter is the classic nut butter that we all love, and our dogs love it too!
Peanut butter is often used in dog treat recipes, on lick mats, in classic Kong toys and more.
It's high in protein, tasty and safe for dogs. As with other nut butters, look at the ingredients list and make sure the peanut butter you choose doesn't have any additional ingredients such as salt, sugar or fillers such as palm oil.
Pick a natural peanut butter for those peanut butter treats whenever possible.
Unless your dog is teeny tiny, crunchy peanut butter is unlikely to be a choking hazard, and the extra texture and enriched flavor in this formula is usually a big hit.
The biggest worry with peanut butter isn't the nuts at all, but the practice that some manufacturer's have of adding the artificial sweetener Xylitol to their peanut butter. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and often used as a sugar substitute.
Although not harmful to humans Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and can have very serious, even deadly consequences.
Dogs who ingest even small amounts of xylitol can have a sudden and dramatic drop in blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), which can lead to shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, even liver failure and/or death.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning can take up to eight hours to appear so if your dog eats ANYTHING with xylitol in it get immediate veterinary help.
Not being symptomatic doesn't mean Fido is fine. By the time he shows symptoms it could be too late.
As of early 2022, some nut butter brands are now listing Xylitol as 'Birch Sugar' on their labels. It may be a different name, but it's the same toxic ingredient so PLEASE continue to be vigilant about checking ingredient labels!
Although it's not common in the USA, chestnut butter is a favorite in some European countries.
But although it's delicious, and of course totally safe for humans, chestnuts are not safe for dogs, so neither is chestnut butter.
Chestnuts themselves are a choking hazard for dogs of all sizes, and can cause a serious intestinal blockage if eaten.
Chestnuts also contain Aesculin, which is a neurotoxin which can cause a whole host of symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea, to behavior changes, muscle weakness, loss of co-ordination, seizures, paralysis and death.
Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, and because they're a popular nut it's important to know this.
Just ingesting a tiny little bit of a macadamia nut can cause toxicity in dogs, and although most signs of macadamia nut poisoning in dogs are not life threatening (diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, fever) some are dangerous (rapid heartbeat, pale gums) and any dog who has eaten macadamia nuts or macadamia butter needs to be examined by a veterinarian.
Under no circumstances should dogs ever eat macadamia nut butter.
Pecans are another nut that is popular with humans, but dangerous for dogs.
Pecans, particularly moldy pecans, because they contain aflatoxins which can cause serious illness, and even be fatal to dogs.
Symptoms of pecan toxicity may be vague, but can result in liver failure and be fatal quickly. So, if your dog eats pecans, or pecan butter, have him examined by a veterinarian right away.
Pistachios aren't toxic, but they are very high in fat and can cause digestive upset, or even pancreatitis (which is serious and can be fatal).
Your best bet is just to never feed pistachios or pistachio butter to your dog.
Here's a brand of peanut butter that you might want to try, because it's specifically formulated for dogs!
Of course that means there are no dangerous, or non-dog-friendly ingredients but that's not all. Buddy Budder contains added honey and comes in a variety of flavors, each one containing different added ingredients such as bananas, pumpkin, berries, cinammon, chia seeds and more.
You can switch it up by substituting Buddy Budder for a regular nut butter in your recipes or use it to fill Kongs (it's a little thinner than some other brands of peanut butter so freezing the filled Kong for a couple of hours makes it last longer), on lick mats or bowls, or however you'd use regular peanut butter.
As you can see above, there are some nut butters that are totally safe for dogs, as well as being nutritious and delicious!
Using them in your recipes adds the texture and taste your dog loves and helps create healthy homemade dog treats.
But remember, there can be too much of a good thing!
Nut butter should only be used in small quantities, and it's not a good idea to give dogs nuts in general, or nut butter regularly.