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Why Do Dogs Love Peanut Butter So Much? Here’s Three Reasons!


Last Updated: January 18, 2024 | 6 min read | Leave a Comment

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This article was written by a veterinary technician, but it should not substitute as contact with your veterinarian. If your dog is reacting adversely after ingesting peanut butter, contact your local vet immediately.

When it comes to favorite snacks, peanut butter is at the top of the list for many canine friends. Not only do dogs coming running at the twist of a jar, but many dog treats include it as an ingredient. Peanut butter is also used as a filler in durable rubber dog toys to give your canine companion something to keep them busy for hours on end.

But why is it that dogs go crazy over it? Is there some type of magical ingredient or nutrient? Could it be the texture that they love so much? There are actually a few different theories that may come into play when finding out why our furry friends love it so much.

In this article, we’ll discuss the popular theories as to why our dogs love peanut butter so much and dive into a few important facts you’ll want to keep in mind when feeding it to our furry friends!

Understanding Canine Taste Buds

Dog Licking
Before understanding why dogs love it so much, you’ll need to understand their sense of taste.

Before we answer the question of why dogs love peanut butter it’s important to understand how canine taste buds work. While we know our dogs see the world a bit differently than we do, you may be surprised to know that they taste things differently as well. Humans have roughly 9,000 taste buds on their tongue, while our canine friends have about 1,700. Because of this, our dogs are driven mainly by smell when they beg for certain food.

Dogs do have the ability to taste sweet, salty, sour, and bitter food, but their taste buds are much weaker than ours. Where their ability to distinguish between food items may lack a bit, their impeccable sense of smell takes over. Dogs can begin to develop a preference in the human food that they enjoy over time, but it’s mainly due to the allure of the item’s scent.

Now that we understand how our pups taste the world around them, let’s determine what makes our pups so interested in this delicious treat!

Is It Because Of The Salt?

Some dog owners believe that our pups love peanut butter due to its salt content. Though our dogs may attempt to lick our fingers after we eat a salty snack, the salt is not usually what’s alluring to your pup. Dogs do have the ability to taste salt in food, but they do not have as many salt-specific taste buds as we do.

This means that our dogs do not crave salt the way humans do. They don’t seek it out in the food they consume. Your dog may run toward the peanut butter jar, but salt probably isn’t the reason why. Keep in mind that salt can be dangerous to dogs if too much is consumed, so you’ll want to monitor your pup’s salt intake.

Is It Because Of The Protein?

Dog Looking at Peanut Butter on Nose
Because it contains protein, it’s quite possible this is the reason your dog may crave it.

We know our pups love a protein-filled meal, so could the protein content be appealing to them? While there’s no way to know for sure, many dog experts think that it’s possible. Peanut butter was created in an effort to offer a high protein meal that was easy to digest. Due to the high amount of smell receptors in a dog’s nose, they may be able to smell the high amount of protein inside.

Many traits that our dogs possess are due to their ancestor’s need to survive in the wild. Experts now believe that our dogs have an incredible ability to track the scent that protein leaves behind, as they desperately need it to survive. If this is the case, your pup may simply be running toward a tasty protein source when you crack open the jar.

Is It Because Of The Sweet Flavor?

Our canine companions do love their protein, but they are still omnivores. Being an omnivore means that you have a sensitivity to sweetness, and this pertains to our dogs as well. If a dog smelled a sweet scent in the wild, it often meant that the item was a good source of carbohydrates. Since carbs are a wonderful source of energy, a wild dog knew they could consume the item for a quick pick me up.

While our dogs may not forage for berries anymore, they do still react in a similar way to sweet smells. Opening a jar may send an irresistibly sweet smell toward your pup. This may cause them to walk over and beg for a snack. If your dog comes running toward any sweet meals that you prepare, this may be why your dog loves it so much.

Now that we’ve potentially cracked the code as to why our dogs love it so much, let’s discuss some important facts!

Is It Safe For Dogs To Eat?

Dog Licking Jar
In moderation, most peanut butters are safe for most dogs.

We know that our dogs love peanut butter, but is it safe for dogs to eat? Thankfully the answer is yes, but in moderation. It can be a wonderful and nutritious snack for our furry friends, but there are a few rules we should follow to ensure our dog’s safety.

First, it’s important to make sure you are only offering your dog a high-quality brand. Some brands are extremely high in sodium or unhealthy fats, turning this nutritious snack into junk food. By finding a natural peanut butter that is low in dangerous ingredients, you can offer your pup Vitamin B, Vitamin E, and beneficial fats.

The next hazard to be aware of is any brand or products that contain xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is found in many food products, as it has an extremely low glycemic index. While it is becoming more challenging to stumble across a product with this toxic ingredient, it is still around. The same plant-derived toxic substance as xylitol is also called “birch sugar” or “birch sap” in ingredient listings, so steer clear of these ingredients as well.

Xylitol is safe for humans to consume, but can be deadly to our canine companions. Xylitol ingestion in dogs can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar, leading to life-threatening symptoms such as seizures, coma, and permanent liver damage. Most products have eliminated xylitol all together, but some brands still include it.

Products that still contain xylitol include:

  • Protein Plus PB
  • Krush Nutrition
  • Go Nuts Co.
  • P28 Foods

Can Dogs Be Allergic?

Just like humans, dogs can have peanut allergies as well. While some veterinary professionals think it’s unlikely, some pet owners have reported signs of itching and irritation after their dogs consume anything with peanuts. While violent peanut allergies may not be as common in dogs as they are in people, it is still a possibility to be aware of.

Each dog will have its own set of sensitivities, making it so important to be informed about the signs of allergic reaction in our pups. Any time you offer your dog a delicious peanut butter snack, we urge you to keep an eye out for the following symptoms. Some signs of an allergic reaction can include:

  • Itching
  • Facial swelling or swelling in general
  • Skin redness
  • Hives
  • Agitation
  • Chewing or licking at the skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy

If your dog displays any of the above behaviors, it’s best to contact your veterinarian immediately for further care.

How Much Is Okay For Dogs To Eat?

Dog Licking Spoon
Usually anywhere from 1/2 tablespoon to 1 tablespoon per day is safe for most dogs.

Peanut butter is a nutritious snack option for our furry friends, but it is still considered a special treat. Our dogs need a well-balanced diet outside of their treat consumption. Treats should only make up about 10% of their daily calorie intake. While it has beneficial nutrients to offer, it is no different than any other dog treats in terms of daily intake.

The best way to figure out how much is safe for your dog is by examining the ingredient label and factoring this into their daily calorie intake. While dogs will differ based on weight, most pups can eat anywhere from 1/2 a tablespoon to 1 tablespoon daily.

It’s important to keep in mind that every dog is different, and some stomachs are more sensitive than others. If your dog is prone to gastrointestinal upset, it’s best to limit its intake to once a week. This guidance should be followed for dogs with a history of pancreatitis, food allergies, diabetes, and obesity as well. If you are ever concerned about offering your dog peanut butter, it’s best to discuss it with your veterinarian.

Should You Feed it To Your Dog?

If you have a healthy dog or puppy, peanut butter can be a wonderful addition to their treat routine – and a great way to get them to take pills. As long as you are aware of the general safety guidelines that you should follow, your pup can safely indulge in their favorite treat that they crave.

You’ll also want to make sure you properly budget for the additional calories in your dog’s diet. Too much of any high-calorie treat could make your dog pack on some extra pounds. If you have any specific concerns about your dog’s safety when eating peanut butter, we recommend speaking with your veterinarian.

Final Thoughts

The protein content and sweet smell of peanut butter seem to be the most likely culprit behind a dog’s love for this tasty treat. Remember that natural products made from real peanuts is usually best. You can even put it on other foods to make a naturally tasty dog treat. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can safely offer this nutty snack going forward!

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