Can Peanut Butter Kill Your Dog?

Anyone who has a dog knows the taste of peanut butter is near the top of the most favorite treat flavor list. Dogs have been eating peanut butter with no problems. However, of late there have been some concerns surfacing which every pet parent should be made aware. 

Peanut butter is not what it used to be. Between mother nature and commercial brands we have to know what to watch out for to keep our pups safe from harm.  Be diligent about reading the labels for both place of origin and ingredients. In other words, know exactly what you are purchasing.

Aflatoxins

Peanuts contain aflatoxins which are naturally occurring mycotoxins produced by a fungus called aspergillus which are carcinogenic and known to cause liver cancer in laboratory animals. It can occur in nuts, legumes, seeds, corn, wheat and other crops, as well as some spices, such as chili and paprika with extreme heat and drought before harvest, as well as moist, humid storage conditions, increasing its susceptibility.  Farmers and food processors minimize its growth by following good management practices and the United States Department of Agriculature (USDA) monitors crops for aflatoxin while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) routinely samples peanut products to make sure they don’t exceed maximum allowable levels.  Peanuts sold in the U.S. are not considered a problem but you should keep them in a cool, dry place and avoid any that are moldy, shriveled or discolored.

You can fight back with carotenoids and antioxidant rich foods that fight off carcinogens in the body.  These fruits include apricots, cantaloupe, apples, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit and lemons.  Vegetables include carrots, sweet potatoes, and dark green leafy vegetables.  Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts.  Seasonings include cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger, and turmeric.  Coconut Oil is considered one of the top crusaders against carcinogens.

Harmful Fats

Some brands of peanut butter list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients.  That means they contain trans-fatty acids as the result of a highly toxic process that makes foods more stable allowing them to sit on shelves for an extremely long time. Hydrogenation is the process of taking a plant oil, adding a nickel catalyst, heating it, and then removing the nickel catalyst. This results in a highly toxic fat that causes diabetes, heart disease and chronic inflammation. Avoid these!

High Omega 6

Peanut butter is high in omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids which can trigger inflammation, joint disease, and  allergies so feed sparingly

White Sugar

White sugar contributes to candida yeast, bacteria, parasites and feeds cancers.  It can also cause diabetes, food allergies, premature aging and low level inflammation.

Xylitol

Some companies are now replacing the white sugar with xylitol which is not harmful to humans but deadly for dogs!  It's unknown if popular brands will follow this trend. This natural sweetener has been gaining in popularity because of its suitability as a sugar substitute  with its low glycemic index for people with diabetes.  It’s used in gum, candy, chewable vitamins, oral-care products, and baked goods.  It can be purchased in a granulated form for baking and as a sweetener for cereals and beverages.

According to a report from the ASPCA

...even small amounts can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure or death. In dogs, xylitol is rapidly and almost completely absorbed, with peak plasma concentrations occurring at about 30 minutes. After xylitol ingestion of as little as 0.1 gram (g) of xylitol per kilogram (kg) of body weight (0.1 g/kg) a rapid and dangerous drop in a dog’s blood sugar (hypoglycemia) may develop within 30 to 60 minutes. However, in some cases of xylitol gum ingestion, hypoglycemia may be delayed for up to 12 hours. The clinical signs may progress rapidly from vomiting, lethargy, and appearing disoriented to ataxia, collapse, and seizure.  Just slightly more than that (approx. 0.5 g/kg xylitol ingestion) can lead to debilitating, and sadly often deadly, destruction of a dog’s liver cells. Dogs with certain pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes, hepatitis, and others) are likely to be even more sensitive to the toxic effects of xylitol.

I know I will probably continue to buy peanut butter, but for Kirby, my solution is to make our peanut butter which makes me feel safer.  I can choose whole peanuts harvested locally or commercial dry roasted peanuts.  So my question is, will you become more diligent or will you ban peanut butter altogther?