Monday, June 29, 2015

The peanut butter spread in your pantry may not be safe to give your dog

Peanut butter is a staple on most pantry shelves, and in homes with dogs, it's especially useful. Most of my clients leave a jar designated for their canine family members, and I use that to fill their Kong toys to freeze and enjoy. The ubiquitous product is also a popular vehicle to help administer oral meds to dogs. 

By and large peanut butter is a safe product to offer to our pets, so long as it's simply peanut butter and not coupled with other ingredients. 

It's reasonable to expect that peanut butter and peanut butter spreads that are devoid of enhancements like chocolate or hazelnut spread are safe, but one peanut-based spread came to light recently and illustrates that reading ingredient labels is key when it comes to pet safety. 

A popular line of peanut spreads by Nuts ’N More — most prominently the peanut butter flavor — might easily be dismissed as something safe and offered up without a second thought.

Why are wholesome and healthy products like this one and those produced by other companies a problem?

One word: Xylitol.

The risk that xylitol — a sugar replacement used in many products — poses to canines regardless if it is consumed by getting into candy, chewing gum or other sweets (or in this case, even being given directly to a dog) can be devastating. 

The popular sweetener is toxic to canines because it causes a dangerous drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), as well as liver damage, and even death. The exact mechanism is not clear, but what is known is that it doesn't take much to cause serious health problems.

Click here for more facts on the effects of xylitol in dogs.

Bringing this to light is in no way an effort to vilify any company, as these products are intended for use by humans. (In fact, Krush Nutrition has included information on their website pointing out that xylitol is not safe for dogs.) But, because of our inherent desire to share things with our canine friends, it can be hard to know if some products are dangerous to pets — even if they seem natural and basic. Whenever in doubt, take a second to read the label and if the ingredients are not clear and known to be safe, skip it. 

Lorrie Shaw is a freelance writer and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.

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