Can Peanut Butter Be Toxic to Your Dog?

puppy eating a peanut butter kong toyI recently learned that xylitol is now being added to some specialty brands of peanut butter. Why is that important?

Xylitol, a natural sweetener that is found in many of our foods, vitamins, chewing gum and many other products, while safe for humans can be extremely toxic to dogs.

In dogs, xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar leading to hypoglycemia and death.  It has also been associated with liver failure.


Peanut butter is often given as a treat, used as a training tool and to disguise medications. It is not uncommon for pets to snack on people food, eat an unfinished sandwich, steal a pack of gum or breath mints or be inadvertently given a food treat made with artificial sweeteners.

At least five companies are now adding xylitol to their peanut butter products.  The brand names are Go NutsHank’s Protein Plus Peanut Butter, Krush Nutrition, Nuts ‘n More and P28. (Source VIN News Service)

Xylitol is a sweetener naturally found in small amounts in many fruits and vegetables.  It is used as a sweetener in human products such a chewing gum, breath mints, dental rinses,  sugar-free foods, as a substitute for table sugar, many pharmaceutical products, children’s vitamins and now Peanut Butter.  It is safe for human consumption but is extremely toxic to pets.

According to Dr. Justine Lee, an emergency veterinarian, “While it’s completely safe for humans, it results in a severe insulin release when ingested by non-primate species (e.g., dogs!). Acute poisoning will occur in dogs, resulting in two main syndromes: hypoglycemia (i.e., a life-threateningly low blood sugar) and acute hepatic necrosis (i.e., severe liver failure).”

How much is toxic?  As little as 3 gm,or the amount found in 8-10 sticks of chewing gum could kill a 65 lb Labrador.  A few sticks could be fatal to a smaller dog.

For signs and symptoms of xylitol poisoning read Dr. Justine Lee’s full article in Pet Health Network.

Dr. Lee’s advice, “If you think your dog was accidentally poisoned by a sugar-free product, first, stay calm! Next, read the ingredients to see if the product contained xylitol. The general rule is that if xylitol is listed in the first 3-5 ingredients (typically in order of the amount that they appear in the food or product), it is going to be poisonous!”

She also states, “If your dog does get into something sugar-free, always check the ingredient list. Note that other sound-a-likes like sorbitol, maltitol, and erythritol are not poisonous to dogs. Likewise, other sugar-free products such as stevia, saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, etc. are also not poisonous to dogs. If your dog gets into one of these other sound-a-likes, it’s not poisonous. No need to worry, as long as you’re positive there’s no xylitol!”

We are always on the lookout for pet poisoning from a variety of foods and chemicals including rodenticides, xylitol, antifreeze, human medications, chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic and macadamia nuts. And now some brands of peanut butters will need to be on this list.

If you think your pet may have eaten a xylitol containing product or any other potentially toxic substance contact Pet Poison Control for pertinent emergency information and then contact your veterinarian.

Here are a couple of other great articles on the subject of xylitol toxicity:

VIN News Service

Xylitol Poisoning In Dogs: A Deadly Sugar Substitute

Is Peanut Butter Safe For Dogs? Please Beware – Some Could Be Deadly!

Snopes: Xylitol Danger

Dr. Ginger Garlie Gigi and Holly

Dr. Ginger Garlie Gigi and Holly