When Arrow, a 2-month-old pit bull mix, was first offered a spoonful of peanut butter in a California shelter, he couldn’t believe his luck. His eyes opened wide. His tail was wagging so hard that he could barely keep his balance. Finally, the peanut butter hit Arrow’s tastebuds and his tongue went wild with the pleasure of chewing.
According to the SPCA for Monterey County, where Arrow lived, “the look on his face was like: ‘This is the best stuff ever.'” Stacy Dubuc is a development manager for the SPCA for Monterey County. “He went completely nuts. He was in a trance-like state of mind.”
Photos of Arrow eating peanut butter were taken by Stacy and posted online. The following day, he was reunited with his long-lost family.
So, why do dogs like peanut butter?
Veterinarian and veterinary nutrition expert Dr. Susan Wynn tells us that it’s likely a combination of taste and smell that plays a role.
Wynn opined that dogs are drawn to the combination of sweet and salty in peanut butter. “I think the aroma is what entices them to try it in the first place, and that’s what keeps them coming back for more. Because of the roasting process, proteins and fats are altered, and they may smell a little bit like caramelized meat.”
There are certain chemicals that dogs (and people) are hardwired to seek out, with fat and protein being the primary drivers,” said Wynn.
View this post on Instagram
DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. Christy Michael agrees that dogs love peanut butter because of its high fat and salt content.
It is less likely that dogs and cats would find foods high in sodium and fat in their ‘wild’ diet, according to Michael, who spoke to us.
She believes dogs like peanut butter because their owners do, too, and give it to them as a treat. But Michael has another theory.
The food that the pack leader (in this case, the dog’s owner) eats is often not shared with the dog, which is why, according to Michael, dogs often ask for it. Peanut butter sharing has become common among humans for whatever reason, and dogs are well aware that their pack leader is willing to share this rare treat with them.
As a result, Michael explained, “whenever someone goes to get some peanut butter, the dog gets really excited because it knows it’s going to get some of that yummy treat.”
View this post on Instagram
Check the label on your jar of peanut butter before you grab it to give to your dog. For dogs, xylitol, a natural sweetener, can cause hypoglycemia and hepatic necrosis. It is found in some peanut butter.
Organic peanut butter is preferred by Wynn, but any kind is fine for dogs as long as it doesn’t contain xylitol.
Organic peanut butter with no added sugar or other additives is what I prefer, and I prefer products from big retailers that do their own due diligence to ensure that the products they carry are safe and dependable,” Wynn said in an interview.
It’s also critical to avoid overfeeding dogs.
Peanut butter is a high-calorie snack, so keep that in mind if you’re using it as an occasional reward. Treats should not exceed 10% of a dog’s daily calorie requirements, according to the general rule.