“Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks.” It’s a common line from “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” played at baseball stadiums around the country during the seventh inning all summer. But should your dog partake in peanut-eating if you’re watching together at home (or at a Bark at the Park night)? Can dogs eat peanuts?
Veterinarians say it’s a good question.
“Dog owners might want to know if their dog can have peanuts because peanuts are a common household snack,” says Dr. Lindsay Butzer, DVM, a PetMeds partner. “They may want to share with their pet or their dog may have accidentally ingested some. It’s important to know what foods are safe for dogs to consume.”
Are peanuts safe for dogs? Do they offer any benefits? The good news: Peanuts are usually safe for dogs. But, like so many things in life, there’s a catch or two. Here’s what vets want you to know about dogs and peanuts.
Can Dogs Eat Peanuts?
Most dogs can consume peanuts in moderation.
“Dogs can eat peanuts,” Dr. Butzer says. But not all peanuts are created equally.
“The peanuts should be unsalted,” Dr. Butzer says. “High quantities of salt can be very harmful to dogs. It’s also important to note that while peanuts are safe for dogs, they should only be given in moderation.”
How Many Peanuts Can a Dog Eat?
There’s no magic number, but Dr. Butzer can offer some ballparks. “For small dogs, a few peanuts are enough,” Dr. Butzer says. “Larger dogs can eat more, but it’s best to limit their intake to a small handful.”
There are reasons peanuts are best consumed in moderation.
“Peanuts are high in fat, which can lead to health problems like pancreatitis if consumed in large quantities,” Dr. Butzer explains.
Short-term, too many peanuts can turn a tasty treat into a nasty tummy ache.
How to Safely Serve Peanuts to Your Dog
A few peanuts are generally safe for most dogs. But you’ll want to take some steps before handing the nuts to Fido.
“If you’re giving your dog peanuts, they should be unsalted and not in their shells,” Dr. Butzer says. “The shells can cause digestive problems.”
What Nuts Can Dogs Not Eat?
“Dogs should not eat almonds, pecans, walnuts, hickory nuts or macadamia nuts,” Dr. Butzer says. “These nuts can cause digestive distress or even toxicity in dogs.”
Macadamia nuts can be particularly dangerous as they “cause neurological toxicity,” Dr. Butzer warns.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, signs that a dog ingested macadamia nuts include:
- Muscle weakness
Do Peanuts Have Health Benefits for Dogs?
“There are healthy fats and proteins in peanuts, although you probably don’t want to feed enough for either to show a significant consideration,” Dr. Richter says. “Too many can lead to GI upset or weight gain as peanuts are high in fat.”
Is Peanut Butter Safe for Dogs?
Are you thinking of leaving peanut butter in a Kong for your pup while running errands? Or are you tempted to let Spot lick the spoon after making yourself a PB&J sandwich? It’s probably safe.
“[Peanut butter] is also OK in moderation,” says Dr. Richter. “It is high in fat. It is best to feed all-natural peanut butter [with] no added sugars and oils.”
However, scan the label for a key ingredient that’s dangerous for dogs: Xylitol.
“It’s crucial to avoid peanut butter that contains xylitol, a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs,” Dr. Butzer says.
Why Does My Dog Feel Sick After Eating Peanuts?
Typically, dogs can consume a few peanuts. But the special treat isn’t for every pup.
“If your dog feels sick after eating peanuts, they may have eaten too many or could be having a reaction to [them],” says Dr. Butzer.
If your dog is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, you may need to scale back the number of peanuts you give them or avoid the treat altogether. And some dogs shouldn’t consume peanuts at all.
“Peanuts are high in fat, which can upset a dog’s stomach or even lead to more serious conditions like pancreatitis,” Dr. Butzer says. “If you know your dog gets pancreatitis or is a breed predisposed to pancreatitis, such as Yorkies, Schnauzers, Malteses or Toy Poodles, I would avoid giving [them] peanuts or peanut butter.”
What To Do if Your Dog Ate Peanuts
If your dog ate peanuts, there’s likely no need to panic or take any action.
“Too many peanuts can cause GI upset, but I would not expect that to be severe or in any way life-threatening,” Dr. Ritchter says.
Dr. Butzer agrees—you can breathe.
“If your dog ate a few peanuts, they should be OK,” Dr. Butzer says. “However, if they’ve eaten a large quantity or are showing signs of illness like vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy, it’s best to contact your vet immediately.”
Dr. Butzer says your vet has numerous tools to help get your pet on the mend, including medication, after consuming too many peanuts.