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White dog looking at peanut butter

The essentials

  • Peanuts are not toxic — Peanuts don’t contain any harmful chemicals like the ones found in some other nuts, like macadamias.
  • Nuts can be choking hazards — Although they are small, peanuts can still sometimes pose choking risks for small dogs.
  • Peanuts have high fat content — Raw peanuts still contain fat, which, if consumed excessively can lead to other health risks.

Yes, your dog can eat peanuts. Unsalted peanuts are a great snack. Most veterinarians will say that peanuts provided in moderation can be a great source of protein, healthy fats,  vitamin E, vitamin B-6, and other minerals that contribute to skin, immune, and organ health.

But, all peanuts are not equal. Salted nuts, flavored nuts, peanut butter with artificial sweeteners, and peanut shells are all potentially harmful to your pooch.

Like all new foods, if you’ve never introduced peanuts or peanut butter to your dog, it’s always important to do so slowly and in small amounts. Your dog may go nuts for peanuts, but it’s important to understand the health risks associated so that your dog can safely enjoy their favorite treat.

Health risks associated with peanuts in dogs

Peanuts are on the list of safe foods for dogs. However, there are a few major health risks associated with peanuts that all dog owners need to know about.

Allergies and intolerances

Dogs may have allergic reactions to certain foods. Peanut allergies in dogs are very rare, but can still happen. And, it’s important to keep in mind that dog allergies can be potentially life-threatening.

Also, like humans, your pup can have intolerances to different foods. These can cause upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea in dogs. It’s important to test any new food or snack with a small portion so that you can track any symptoms of allergic reactions.

Choking hazards

Unshelled peanuts are the safest form of peanuts  to share with your dog because the large, fibrous shells can pose choking hazards. Even unshelled peanuts can be choking hazards for smaller dogs! Always keep an eye on your dog when they’re eating. If you notice gagging or choking, performing CPR for dogs can save their life.

Nutritional imbalances

Peanuts are naturally high in fat, so it’s important to limit your dog’s intake. A handful of raw, unsalted, unshelled peanuts are the most healthy version of a peanut.

Remember, too many nuts can cause an upset stomach which can lead to more serious complications like pancreatitis and weight gain.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has a  Nutrition and Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, which can be used as a guide for maintaining a healthy nutrition regimen for your dog.

The issue with peanut additives

The more common way that most dogs consume peanuts is in peanut butter form. Peanut butter is a great way to get your dog to eat medication, and it’s a fun filler for a KONG toy.

However, some kinds of peanuts and peanut butter contain potentially harmful additives. Here are some to be aware of:

  • Salted peanuts. Salted peanuts contain high levels of sodium and should be avoided. In general, salt intake should be kept to small quantities. Too much salt in your dog’s diet is harmful and can lead to salt toxicosis , especially if your pup doesn’t drink enough water.
  • Flavored peanuts. It’s best to avoid flavored peanuts. Although tasty to humans, flavored peanuts typically include other ingredients and a sugar substitute that can be harmful to a dog. The main thing pet owners need to be aware of is an artificial sweetener called xylitol. Xylitol poisoning can be potentially life-threatening, even if intake is in extremely small doses.
  • Peanuts and peanut products in candy and other confections. Similar to flavored peanuts, candy should be avoided. Candy with peanuts can include sugar, and other ingredients, like chocolate, raisins, and artificial sweeteners that can harm your dog.

How to safely introduce peanuts to a dog's diet

All new foods for your dog should be introduced slowly and carefully before giving them to your dog on a regular basis. It’s always safest to ask your vet when introducing a new food. Here are some things to consider when introducing peanuts into a dog’s diet.

Different types of peanuts and dogs

  • Raw peanuts. Raw, unshelled peanuts are the safest way to consume peanuts.
  • Roasted peanuts. Dry-roasted peanuts are safe to consume as long as they are unshelled and unsalted/unflavored.
  • Boiled peanuts. Boiled peanuts are safe to consume as long as they are unshelled and unsalted/unflavored.

Portion control and moderation

Start by introducing one or two peanuts to keep an eye on allergies, and if your dog can safely chew and swallow. Then, like most snacks, maintain moderation with your dog’s peanut intake.

Appropriate portions for peanuts will vary based on the size of the dog. But as a general rule, peanuts should be only given as a treat and should not exceed more than 10% of the diet.

Dr. Dwight Alleyne

Peanut butter as an alternative

Peanut butter is a great alternative for dogs as it limits the choking hazard. However, owners should still be wary of artificial sweeteners found in some nut butter. The safest peanut butter to give your dog is unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter.

Homemade peanut butter can also be a fun substitute as long as it is mainly salt-free, plain peanuts.

Can dogs eat other nuts?

Dogs can eat some other nuts, but there are a few that should remain off-limits for your pooch. As with peanuts, always be aware of artificial sweeteners and salt levels in other nuts. Here are some other common nuts for dogs:

Peanuts Yes
Cashews Yes
Pecans Yes
Pistachios Yes
Almonds No
Macadamia No
Walnuts No
Brazil No
Chestnuts Avoid horse chestnuts

🚨In all of the nuts listed above, always avoid shells. These can cause serious problems if ingested.

Not all human food is a good idea for dogs. And as a general rule, never give your dog new food in large quantities. Stick to small portions where you can track potential side effects.

If you are concerned about a nut that your dog has consumed or planning to consume, always consult with your vet.

Frequently asked questions

How many peanuts can a dog eat?

To avoid stomach issues, your dog should not eat more than a handful of peanuts in a day.

What nuts can dogs not eat?

Dogs cannot eat pistachios, macadamias, walnuts, and some chestnuts.

Will one peanut hurt a dog?

No, one peanut will not hurt a dog. But, it’s always important to keep an eye on what your dog is eating and avoid leaving food on the ground.

Why does my dog feel sick after eating peanuts?

Food with high-fat content, like peanuts, can sometimes lead to tummy troubles in dogs. It’s best to keep peanut intake to a minimum.