Homemade and organic peanut butters are best because they don’t contain any added ingredients. Some peanut butter products can be too salty for dogs or may contain excess sugars. This can contribute to conditions like pancreatitis in dogs and, if given too often, can increase your dog’s risk for diabetes.
Some peanut butters contain an ingredient known as xylitol. This is a common ingredient that is found in sugar-free products as a sugar substitute. Humans have no problem metabolizing and breaking down xylitol, but it is incredibly toxic for dogs. Even tiny amounts of xylitol can cause unsafe drops in your dog’s blood sugar because xylitol ingestion results in the rapid release of insulin from your dog’s pancreas.
Blood sugar, or glucose, is important for overall cell function and is considered “food” for the brain. Sharp decreases in blood glucose to cause lethargy, seizures, and death. Xylitol toxicity can also cause liver failure, which can cause clinical signs such as jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea, extreme lethargy, seizures, and even death.
You should also avoid peanut butters that are mixed in with other foods like jelly and chocolate. Jelly is commonly made from grapes which are toxic for dogs. Researchers aren’t sure why grapes are so severely toxic, but it only takes the ingestion of one to three grapes to result in kidney failure in dogs.
Chocolate contains methylxanthine compounds known as theobromine and caffeine. White and milk chocolate contain very small amounts of these compounds while semi-sweet and dark chocolates contain much higher quantities. Ingesting toxic amounts of chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, and even death if immediate treatment is not started.