The peanut is a legume with edible seeds. It has found its way onto our tables as a salted snack or as a creamy spread on toast. Peanuts provide a tasty source of protein and fat in our own diet so it is natural to want to share them with our four-legged friends. Peanuts are not toxic to dogs but there are a few things to keep in mind before adding them to our dogs’ diets.

Are peanut products good for my dog?

There is no specific research available on the nutritional benefits of peanuts in dogs. However, because peanuts are such a popular ingredient in our own cuisines, their functional properties have been explored. Peanuts contain valuable nutrients such as amino acids, fibre, and minerals. They also contain compounds that have been associated with disease prevention in people. 

Sharing peanuts with our dogs

Considering all these potential benefits, you probably want to share a few peanuts with your dog. There are a few things to keep in mind before you hand over the snack pouch.

Never feed your dog peanuts with the shell

The peanut shell may be difficult for your dog to chew and is not very digestible. A shell-on peanut is a choking hazard and can lead to tummy upsets.

Avoid feeding salted peanut products

Many peanut snack pouches will have added flavouring to make them especially tempting. Salt is one of the most common added ingredients. It is best to avoid adding salt to your dog’s diet. It can cause excess thirst and, in severe cases, can lead to sodium toxicity. Peanut butter is also on the list of products that will have added salt. Some veterinarians recommend using peanut butter as a tasty way to conceal pills, but check the label first to ensure it is dog-safe (for example, whether or not it contains toxic xylitol). There are some peanut butters that you can purchase that are made specifically for dogs, but any peanut butter that has only peanuts on the ingredient list will be suitable.

Skip the nut mixes

Peanuts find their way into nut snack mixes which can contain nuts that are toxic to dogs. Macadamia nuts, especially, can be very harmful. When sharing with your dog, it is best to stick to just the peanuts with no added ingredients or flavours.

Keep calories in mind

The peanut contains a high proportion of fat which makes it high in calories. Giving your dog too many of these treats can definitely overstretch his daily calorie limit. When planning your dog’s diet, it is best to follow the 10% rule; no more than 10% of your dog’s calories should come from treats. Because peanuts are so calorie-dense, it might only take a few to hit that 10% level when sharing them with your pooch.

Commercial Peanut products for dogs

It seems that dogs love the taste of peanuts as much as we do; there is currently a selection of treats on the market that feature peanut butter as a flavour! An online search for dog peanut products reveals a long list including biscuits, chews, and supplements. Some of the treats are formulated to be low calorie so they can more easily fit within your dog’s daily limit than plain peanuts.

Even though dogs can’t eat raw peanut shells, some commercial diet companies have found a way to process them for use in their diets. When they are ground, they can be incorporated into a complete and balanced diet as a fibre source. Dietary fibres are great to help maintain gut health and keep the good bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract thriving.

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Peanut allergies and sensitivities

You have probably heard a lot about peanut allergies among people. They are typically found at a rate of 0.5-1% in most developed countries around the world. Thankfully in dogs, a specific allergy or food reaction to peanuts is rare.

Take home message

The occasional plain peanut is fine to share with your dog. Additionally, with the mix of peanut-flavoured treats on the market, there are plenty of ways for your dog to enjoy the taste of peanuts while staying within their daily calorie limit.

Reference

Arya, S.S., Salve, A.R. and Chauhan, S., 2016. Peanuts as functional food: a review. Journal of food science and technology, 53(1), pp.31-41

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