As a new and responsible dog owner, you want to educate yourself on what is safe to feed to your new friend and what is unsafe. You always hear about people feeding peanut butter to their dogs, either as a treat or as an incentive, but is it healthy for your German Shepherd?
Peanut butter is safe for your German Shepherd to eat unless your dog has a nut allergy or if the peanut butter contains contains xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Moderate your dog’s intake of peanut butter, and if your Shepherd suffers from a medical condition, you should first consult a veterinarian before giving it to them.
Whether or not your German Shepherd can eat peanut butter is the first question that you should be asking, but there is more you need to consider; you need to know why they should eat it, how much of it they should eat, when they should not eat it, and what can turn this treat into a poison.
The Benefits of Peanut Butter
Most dogs, including German Shepherds, love to eat peanut butter – but it’s not just tasty, there are many health benefits to feeding your dog peanut butter as well.
Peanut butter can be a source of protein for your Shepherd. It also contains healthy fats and vitamins (including vitamin B6, vitamin E, and niacin) that are important to your dog’s diet.
However, peanut butter should be considered as a treat, not a dietary staple for your dog because it has a very high calorie count.
You can use peanut butter to disguise the taste of medicine or vitamin tablets that your German Shepherd needs to take. You can also use it as a bath-time distraction or a training incentive.
If your German Shepherd gets frightened during thunderstorms and firework displays, or when you have company, you can give them an empty peanut butter jar to lick out.
Licking the jar gives them something else to focus on and works particularly well if your dog is food driven.
If a peanut butter jar works really well for your German Shepherd, you can consider purchasing a Classic Kong chew toy or a similar device. These are hollow rubber toys that you can fill with different mixes of food and treats.
You can then seal the opening with some peanut butter. Dogs will spend hours trying to get every last scrap of food out of the toy.
How Much Peanut Butter Can My Dog Eat?
If you are giving your German Shepherd some peanut butter treats, you should always remember the 10 percent rule. Treats should only constitute up to 10 percent of your dog’s daily calorie consumption, so stick to small amounts.
If you are uncertain what your dog’s daily calorie consumption should be, consult your local veterinarian. This will change as your dog grows and ages, so the allowable peanut butter amounts can also change.
Too much peanut butter can cause your German Shepherd to gain weight. German Shepherds are a big breed of dog and should be kept in the lower range of appropriate weights to preserve their joint and general health, especially while they are still growing.
If your dog starts gaining weight, discontinue the peanut butter treats before you reduce their regular food. If your dog is already overweight, avoid giving them peanut butter at all.
For more information about watching your German Shepherd’s weight, be sure to read this excellent article that we’ve written for you linked just below:
Additionally, don’t make peanut butter your German Shepherd’s only treat; alternate with healthier options. Doing this limits your dog’s peanut butter intake but also gives variety to their diet.
Another suggestion is to bake your own dog treats, using peanut butter as a flavor. In this way, you can spread a small amount of peanut butter over more treats.
You can also cover a healthier treat with a thin layer of peanut butter, which can make the treat last longer.
When to Consult A Veterinarian
If your German Shepherd has other food or skin allergies, or if they have diseases such as diabetes, obesity, or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), then it is safer to consult your local veterinarian before giving your dog peanut butter.
Additionally, if your German Shepherd gets sick after eating peanut butter for the first time, you should take them to be seen by a veterinarian immediately as they may be suffering from an allergic reaction.
The veterinarian may then also want to check your dog for other allergies or underlying conditions.
Nut Allergies and Your German Shepherd
You most probably know at least one person who is allergic to nuts. Nut allergies are less common, but not unheard of, in dogs.
So, you should not leave your German Shepherd alone the first time you give them peanut butter. You need to watch them in case they have a reaction.
It is also wise to try out new foods during the day when you know the veterinarian clinic will be open.
If allergic to peanuts, your German Shepherd can have one of two reactions to peanut butter. They can either go into full anaphylactic shock or develop red and itchy skin, a condition known as atopic dermatitis.
If your German Shepherd goes into anaphylactic shock, take them immediately to your nearest veterinarian.
For more information on what German Shepherds can and can’t eat, as well as a full guide on GSD allergies, we have some great information for you right here:
Even though a skin reaction is the less life-threatening of the two, it can become a serious, long-term problem if left untreated or if you fail to make a connection between the peanut butter and the allergic reaction.
If you have ever had eczema, you know how miserable chronic skin irritation can be. Dogs will scratch and bite at their skin until they create bald spots and even open sores. Such sores are then at risk of becoming infected.
You usually treat skin allergies with corticosteroids, but these are harmful to your German Shepherd, especially with prolonged use.
It is infinitely kinder to deny them a peanut butter treat under these circumstances!
Bad, Better, Best: Choosing The Right Peanut Butter
Yes, your German Shepherd can eat peanut butter, but there are some types or brands of peanut butter that you should not give them.
These days, some types of peanut butter contain an artificial sweetener called: xylitol. Xylitol is used as a replacement for sugar in order to lower the sugar content of peanut butter without losing the sweet taste.
While mostly harmless to humans, xylitol and its derivatives are extremely toxic to dogs, including German Shepherds, so always read the label on the jar before giving your dog peanut butter.
If you don’t recognize the name of an ingredient, research it to make sure it is not a sweetener.
Xylitol is particularly bad for dogs because it triggers the release of insulin. Insulin is a substance produced by the body to facilitate the absorption of sugar from the bloodstream into certain tissues.
Xylitol, therefore, can cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar in dogs. Symptoms will develop 10 to 60 minutes after your Shepherd ingests the xylitol.
The symptoms associated with xylitol poisoning in German Shepherds include:
- Lethargy or tiredness
- Rapid pulse rate
- Pale gums
Your dog can go into liver failure and, if left untreated or not treated soon enough, xylitol poisoning can be fatal to your dog.
If your German Shepherd starts showing any of these symptoms after eating peanut butter, take them to a veterinarian immediately!
Better options are the kinds of peanut butter that are low in sodium. The best option is homemade peanut butter because you can exclude additives and preservatives, as well as minimize sugars and salt.
You can find many dog-friendly peanut butter recipes online.
German Shepherds can eat peanut butter, but only as a treat. As with all treats, however, you should moderate the amount of peanut butter you give to your German Shepherd.
Peanut butter is a good source of vitamins, protein, and healthy fats. Again, these things are only healthy for your GSD if fed in moderation.
If your Shepherd suffers from diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, or skin allergies, it might be better to avoid giving them peanut butter altogether. You should consult a veterinarian if you are unsure.
Some German Shepherds can be allergic to nuts and so should not be given peanut butter.
Most importantly, you need to read the label on the peanut butter jar very carefully to ensure it does not contain xylitol or any xylitol derivatives.
Xylitol is toxic to dogs and can have fatal consequences, especially if left untreated.