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Why Do Dogs Love Peanut Butter So Much? The Sticky Answers For This Canine Treat - PawSafe

Why Do Dogs Love Peanut Butter So Much? The Sticky Answers For This Canine Treat

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Why Do Dogs Love Peanut Butter

If your dog has remained glued to their toy smeared with peanut butter for hours on end, you are not alone. So you may wonder, why do dogs love peanut butter so much. After all, aren’t they carnivores?

Dogs seem never to get enough of this gooey, sticky treat, eager to lick every peanut particle in sight. Of course, peanut butter can get stuck in a dog’s teeth, so make sure to use a dental hygiene additive in their water to prevent bacteria building up in their mouth.

It’s difficult to explain the canine obsession with peanut butter with certainty. However, read along as we show you undeniably likely reasons for a canine’s undying love for peanut butter. 

However, the specifics of what about the butter’s flavor is so delightful remains a canine mystery. Still, we know dogs can have a more varied diet than cats can. So they can get more nutrition from plant-based foods. This allowed them to develop sweet taste receptor genes that only some animals (and humans) have. In other words, dogs can enjoy some fruits and veggies, while cats can’t.

Another good question is, why do dogs love anything? Canines’ preferred flavor ranges from gross, like stinky things and poop, to the finer things in life, like butter. We genuinely fail to understand their appeal in some stuff, like your stinky socks. But get why they would beg to share a piece of your snacks.

Your dog gets hooked from just one peanut-smeared spoon for one of these five reasons.

five reasons dogs are hooked to peanut smeared spoon

1. The Fat Content 

Peanut butter is filled with natural fats your dogs can’t get enough of. It’s similar to some people’s near-addiction to fries and other fatty foods. 

Dogs have significantly poorer ability to taste than humans, with only about a sixth of all our taste buds. Nonetheless, they still have fat-specific taste buds, so peanut butter’s fatty nature should draw them in. This is also why they love cheese or lick or margarine. Dogs evolved to love fatty food because the high calorie content is essential for survival when food is scarce.

Nonetheless, research on humans has shown that sugar and fats can have addictive qualities. This fatty addiction can apply to our canine buddies as well. 

2. The Buttery Smell 

Dogs have a wildly impressive sense of smell, capable of smelling something from miles away. Smell directly correlates with tastes, where canines are literally able to taste smells due to a special organ on their palate. If peanut butter smells good to us, imagine how much better it does to our pets?

This strong smell from roasting the peanuts gives the butter its distinctive smell that canines can’t resist. It’s the scent that draws your dog into any treat long before they get a lick and become obsessed. 

3. The Salt Content 

Peanut butter is pretty high in Sodium, which some claim attracts dogs. However, dogs don’t particularly have an affinity for salt like we do and they can’t taste it very well. This is because they evolved to eat raw, unaltered meat containing all necessary salt without needing to add more. 

The reduced affinity to salt suggests that peanut butter’s saltiness isn’t precisely why they like it. And they would enjoy unsalted peanut butter just as much. However, some dogs may still appreciate a salty taste. However, beware that excess salt can be dangerous to dogs and don’t give them peanut butter with added salt.

4. Protein Content 

One of the most convincing reasons for the canine peanut butter craze is the high protein levels. Our dogs obviously don’t know that the gooey treat is protein-rich, but they have be instinctively drawn to protein-rich food.

Research shows that dogs and their taste buds evolved to prefer meat-based and protein-packed foods. Peanut butter is packed with proteins, so the canine’s body craves what it needs– the nutrients. 

5. Sugar

The same study above shows that dogs are relatively drawn to sweet sensations. Again, the phenomenon correlates to evolution, where dog ancestors ate wild fruits in some seasons. This is why some dogs have a sweet tooth, begging for everything sweet.

Dogs can still enjoy unsweetened peanut butter, since it is still naturally sweet without added sugar, which is what we recommend. Sweetened peanut butter is actually harmful because some contain toxic xylitol, an artificial sweetener. 

Is Peanut Butter Healthy for Dogs? Some Benefits Of Peanut Butter For Dogs

Peanut butter offers great nutritional and functional benefits for your pup besides making them insanely happy. These include:

A Healthy Treat

Peanut butter is an excellent protein source to complement your dog’s existing animal proteins. Additionally, it provides healthy fats like omega-6 for skin and coat health and soluble and insoluble fiber for a healthy gut (good with added dog probiotics).

It also has plenty of magnesium to help synthesize the B vitamins and folic acid for healthy cell growth. It’s also an excellent source of antioxidants like vitamin E to keep those pesky free radicals away.

A Healthy Treat Alternative 

Unsweetened peanut butter is a great way to appreciate your dog with treats without risking their health. Just don’t give them too much, as it can turn harmful, causing GI issues and pancreatitis. 

Great For Mental Stimulation When You’re Away

Peanut butter works wonderfully with hollow toys and puzzles. Some dogs will keep themselves busy for hours, allowing you to run your errands and return to your dog diligently licking it out of a KONG toy.

Excellent Distractor 

Does your dog HATE baths? Don’t worry because peanut butter may distract them through the whole ordeal. Just smear some on the bathroom wall and watch your pooch get busy, allowing you to do stuff they wouldn’t appreciate, like clip their nails or bathe them. In the video below you can see how one dog owner uses peanut butter to distract their dog during a bath.

Sneaking in Pills 

Most dogs won’t even notice when you sneak some pills into peanut butter, making it a priceless tool. You can use this hack for flea, anti-parasite, and even disease treatments for a seamless medicating session.

Potential Peanut Butter Risks in Dogs

Potential Peanut Butter Risks in Dogs

Every good thing becomes harmful when done too much, including peanut butter. Most risks associated with its use result from excessive consumption or using sweetened varieties. Some dangers of peanut butter in dogs include:

Pancreatitis 

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that can result from excessive fat consumption. The high-fat content in peanut butter offers nutrition and vitamins but also poses risks when in excess. Signs of the condition include pain, inappetence, and vomiting.

Xylitol Poisoning

Sweetened peanut butter may contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol that is toxic to dogs. Xylitol causes a deadly lowering of blood sugar, characterized by lethargy, vomiting, and anorexia.

Obesity

There are about 100 calories in one tablespoon of peanut butter. This makes it easy to exceed your dog’s daily caloric requirements, which can lead to obesity over time.

Gastrointestinal Upset

Too much peanut butter can cause stomach upsets in the short term. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and reduced appetite, typically resolving in a few hours or days. Read the label on your peanut butter and beware of any additives like flavoring, coloring, xylitol, sugar, salt, or other ingredients that could be toxic or upset your dog’s stomach.

Too Much Omega-6

Peanut butter is an excellent source of omega-6, but the fatty acid needs omega-3 to balance out. The correct ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is 5:1 for optimum immune health. Too much omega-6 from the butter can actually be pro-inflammatory. 

How Much Peanut Butter Should I Give My Dog?

Most small dogs should have ½ a teaspoon, while medium to large dogs are okay with one teaspoon. How much peanut butter for your dog depends on how many daily calories you’re left with for treats.

You must calculate the total caloric requirements from food and treats each day and ensure treats never exceed 10%. Also, observe how your dog reacts to the recommended amounts and watch for signs of stomach upsets like vomiting or reduced appetite.

You can smear the recommended ½ or one teaspoons of peanut butter on your dog’s favorite hollow toys or snuffle mats for mental stimulation. While most dogs love and obsess over the butter, some odd ducks aren’t too crazy about it. It’s all about your specific canine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I give My Dog Peanut Butter every day?

Peanut butter is best as an occasional treat every few days instead of on a daily basis. Small dogs can have ½ a teaspoon, while one teaspoon is fine for large and medium-sized dogs. You never want to overdo any treat that can lead to an unbalanced diet or weight gain.

Why Do Dogs Like Cheese?

Dogs like cheese because it smells and tastes amazing to them. Dogs are instinctively drawn to nutrient-packed foods, cheese being one of them. It also has the protein casein, which breaks down into casomorphins that get your dog hooked, since it calms your dog down. They also love the high-fat content.

Why Doesn’t My Dog Love Peanut Butter?

Dogs that don’t like peanut butter are rare but every dog is different. Some dogs don’t have a high food drive and food doesn’t tempt them much. Other dogs are fussy eaters and simply don’t like certain foods. Your dog may find the unsweetened peanut butter (not that you should get the sweetened one) to be bland. 

Can my dog be allergic to Peanut Butter?

Some dogs have peanut butter allergies. If your dog ingests peanut butter and you see any of the following symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately:

Itchy skin that is red or any hair loss;
-Breathing problems;
-Restlessness;
-Ear infections;
-Hotspots;
-Diarrhea; or
-Vomiting.

Final Thoughts

Natural peanut butter is a great treat to give your dog a few days at a time. It’s packed with protein, fats, salts, and sugars and is attractive to your dog because of its rich taste and flavor. Too much of this butter can cause pancreatitis, obesity, and stomach upset, so play the moderation game.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.