Can Dogs and Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

by Trevor Page

For many years, pet parents have been using peanut butter as a way to get stubborn pets to take pills and even as a treat. It's an effective solution. I would never be able to get Rusko to take his medication otherwise! But recently, I was disturbed to learn that some peanut butter brands contain a toxic substance to dogs and cats called xylitol

Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in many items around your home. It's not just in the likely places like those artificial sweetener packets or cans of diet soda, either. It turns out xylitol is in many common things, including some brands of  toothpaste, gum, chocolates, cookies, medications, ice cream and sauces. While many dogs and cats may consume these items primarily by accident, peanut butter is often given intentionally by well meaning pet parents who have no idea this harmful substance might be in it.

Although only certain brands of peanut butter have been found to contain the sweetener, you'll need to read the label carefully. Peanut butter is generally considered a safe product for pets, but only if this critical ingredient isn't included! When in doubt, you can also use cheese (just as long as your pet isn't sensitive to dairy), lunch meats (as long as they aren't heavily seasoned), or special treats that you can hide pills inside of.

Or, actually, did you know that you can even have your pets meds made into chew treats, ear gels, and fish- or meat-flavored liquids? Ask your vet about those if you want to give them a try! For now, Rusko's xylitol-free peanut butter is working just fine, but I carefully read the label every time I read a jar -- even if it's the same brand. These companies change their formulations often (and often don't tell you about it until long after the fact). And, if there's ever a problem, we're going to try custom-compounded beef-flavored treats for his medications!