FACT CHECK- is peanut butter safe for dogs? | Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital

FACT CHECK- is peanut butter safe for dogs?

Matt Young's picture
fact check overwritten on a picture of a typed sign that has been doing the rounds on social saying that peanut butter contains xylitol and is toxic to dogs

There has recently been an image of a typed sign doing the rounds which claims that some peanut butters contain xylitol and can be toxic to dogs.

What is xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol which is manufactured and used as an artificial sweetener to replace sugar. It has a lower glycaemic index than sugar and is safe in all species except for dogs.

Is Xylitol toxic to dogs? 

Yes, Xylitol is toxic to dogs. There are 2 clinical causes of xylitol toxicity in dogs:

1. Xylitol was shown in experimental studies and has been seen in clinical practice to cause hypoglycaemia in dogs. This is dose dependent. At low doses no toxic effects are seen, but as the dose increases the level of hypoglycaemia increases. The hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) causes weakness, collapse, seizures and can frequently be severe enough to cause death if not treated. 

2. Xylitol ingestion has been associated with acute liver disease. This seems to be independent of the amount ingested and is suspected to be some sort of sensitivity in individual dogs. 

Does Peanut Butter contain Xylitol? 

In the course of my research for this article I have been unable to find any peanut butter for sale in Australia that contains xylitol. There are some peanut butters in the USA that contain xylitol. Why sweeteners would need to be added to peanut butter- I don't know! Surely it is sweet enough without any sweeteners. 

It is important to note that according to Australian and New Zealand labeling requirements xylitol must be listed as an additive in the ingredients of any food product containing it. It could be referred to by it's chemical number which is "967".

Therefore, to ensure that peanut butter is safe for your dog you just need to check the label. If xylitol is listed as an additive in the ingredients do not give it to your dog. If xylitol is not listed than it is safe to use as a treat for your dog. Peanut butter is excellent for lining the inside of a Kong toy to entertain your dog.  

Summary

  • xylitol is toxic to dogs
  • xylitol must be listed as an active ingredient in food product labels in Australia
  • Most peanut butter is safe for dogs (check the label)

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