What Is It About Peanut Butter That Makes Dogs Go Crazy For It?
It probably has a lot to do with taste and smell, according to Dr. Susan Wynn, a veterinarian at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital and an expert on veterinary nutrition.
"Dogs almost certainly love the sugar and salt in peanut butter," Wynn said. "That would make them remember once they have tried it, but I think the aroma is what makes them immediately attracted. That roasted aroma comes from proteins and fats that have been changed in the roasting, which probably smells a bit like caramelized meat. Dogs (and people) are hardwired to seek out certain chemicals that signal a nutrient-rich food, with fat and protein being the primary drivers," Wynn added.
Dr. Christy Michael, a veterinarian at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, similarly believes dogs adore peanut butter because it's rich in fat and salt.
"Dogs and cats are more likely to treasure food that is heavy in sodium and fat because these factors would be less commonly encountered in their 'wild' diet," Michael stated.
What Should I Look For When Selecting The Right Peanut Butter For My Dog? Before you grab your jar of peanut butter to share with your dog, it's important to check the label.
Some peanut butters contain a deadly ingredient for dogs — xylitol, a natural sweetener that can cause hypoglycemia and hepatic necrosis in dogs. As long as the peanut butter doesn't have xylitol, Wynn said any kind is fine for dogs, although she would recommend organic.
"I personally prefer peanut butter that is organic and contains no sugar or any other additive to keep things simple and clean, and products that come from big retailers that do their own due diligence to keep the products they carry safe and dependable," Wynn said.
How Much Peanut Butter Can I Give My Dog?
It's also important not to give dogs too much. "If the peanut butter is being used as a treat, you have to keep in mind that it is a very high calorie treat," Wynn said. "The general rule is that all treats in a day — of whatever sort — need to total less than 10 percent of the dog's calorie needs."
For a large dog, that works out to be less than a teaspoon a day, according to Wynn. For small dogs, that's about one-eighth of a teaspoon. As long as you don't overdo it, peanut butter can be the perfect treat to give your dog, and it almost guarantees your dog will make all kinds funny faces as he eats it. Just make sure you have your camera ready.
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