Everyone knows that dogs appreciate peanuts as a snack. Dogs also like peanut products such as peanut butter. Peanuts are enriched with proteins, vitamin E, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B-6, healthy fats, and other essential body nutrients. So peanuts offer dogs a lot!
So, should dogs eat peanuts? The answer is not entirely positive. Regarding dogs’ health, several risks are associated with feeding dogs peanuts. If eaten in moderate quantities, peanuts pose no problem to dogs. But you must be careful if you intend to feed your dog peanuts frequently.
There are certain risks and benefits you need to know when it comes to adding peanuts to your dog’s diet; let’s get to it.
Is It Safe to Feed Dogs Peanuts?
Yes, Peanuts are safe for dogs in moderate quantities. Also, choosing the suitable type of peanuts for your dog is essential for your dog’s health. Feeding your dogs a small amount of raw, unsalted peanuts once in a while is okay. However, peanuts shouldn’t be part of your dog’s regular diet.
Salted or roasted peanuts should be served to dogs in very small amounts. These peanuts contain a high amount of sodium and oils that can cause your dog discomfort. Peanuts contain a high-fat content; ingesting many peanuts can lead to intestinal discomfort.
In severe cases, overeating fats can damage your dog’s pancreas, an essential organ in the dog’s body. This damage can be fatal if it isn’t treated early. Additionally, overeating salted peanuts can lead to sodium poisoning in dogs.
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What Types of Peanuts Should Dogs Eat?
The most suitable types of peanuts to feed dogs are the unsalted, dry-roasted ones. This type may not be as sweet as the salted peanuts, but they confer more health benefits. Boiled peanuts are also safe for dogs as long as they’re unsalted. Usually, boiled peanuts are cooked with a lot of salts, seasonings, and other additives that can harm dogs.
Peanuts and some other legumes are associated with a fungus called aflatoxins. Aspergillus fungi produce aflatoxins, and these fungi are often associated with legumes. Ingesting too many raw peanuts can lead to aflatoxin poisoning. Aflatoxin poisoning can cause several debilitating effects in dogs, including liver failure.
Serving dogs with dry-roasted peanuts will significantly mitigate the risk of aflatoxins.
Health Benefits of Peanuts to Dogs
Peanuts can serve as a healthy dog treat if taken in moderate amounts. Some of these benefits are;
Improved Heart Health
Peanuts can help sustain healthy heart functions in dogs by lowering their cholesterol levels. Peanuts contain a high amount of calories, most of which originate from the essential fats ( Oleic acids, omega-6 ) in peanuts. These fats are a significant energy source for dogs when taken in small amounts.
Additionally, peanuts can prevent thrombosis in dogs. Thrombosis is the formation of blood clots in blood vessels, and this impedes the flow of blood. By preventing thrombosis, peanuts reduce the risk of heart attacks in dogs.
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Peanuts are embedded with several essential vitamins and minerals that nourish your dog’s skin and improve its metabolism and cognitive function. Among these are vitamin E, vitamin B6, niacin, and folates which are essential for forming red blood cells.
Furthermore, peanuts are excellent sources of protein, fat, and fiber. Peanuts may have a large amount of fat, although most of the fats in peanuts are good fats that are beneficial to a dog’s health if taken in moderate amounts. Due to the good nature of these fats, they can reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Peanuts are also rich in minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, copper, etc.
Improved Muscular Structure
Like other legumes, peanuts are an excellent source of plant-based protein. Proteins are essential for the building up of muscle, as well as the repair of worn-out muscles that results from rigorous exercises or stress.
Additionally, the protein content of peanuts can improve your dog’s lean muscle mass.
Eating peanuts in moderate amounts can improve your dog’s well-being. Peanuts are a rich source of fibers, which aid digestion in dogs. Also, peanuts are a hypoglycemic food. This implies that eating them won’t elevate your dog’s blood sugar levels.
Peanuts are a low-glycemic food, meaning eating them won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar levels.
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Health Risks of Peanuts to Dogs
There are several health risks you should consider before serving peanuts to dogs. These include:
Eating peanuts in excess can cause your dog to gain weight rapidly. The resulting obesity can cause the pancreas to be inflamed. A dog with pancreatitis will exhibit symptoms such as frequent vomiting, lethargy, etc.
In the event that your dog consumes many peanuts or any other fatty food in excess and frequently, you should observe them for these symptoms. If your dogs show any of these symptoms, take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Serving salted boiled peanuts to dogs in excess can lead to sodium poisoning. This elevates the level of sodium in the dog’s body. When the sodium ions are in slight excess, they can cause frequent thirst and dehydration in dogs. In extreme amounts, sodium poisoning results.
Dogs with sodium poisoning will exhibit intestinal discomfort, fever, seizures, and in severe cases, death. Moreover, excess salt can lead to increased blood pressure in dogs. So, to maintain your dog’s blood pressure and heart health, you should pay close attention to the amount of salts they ingest.
Most of us do not have access to natural and freshly made peanuts. So, we tend to buy them in stores. Retailed peanuts are usually filled with additives. Some of these additives contain excess salts or chemicals that can have debilitating effects on your dog’s health if taken in excess amounts.
One of the most common allergens in dogs is peanuts. As an allergen, peanuts can trigger severe and fatal anaphylactic reactions. Allergic reactions are caused by peanuts even when taken in little amounts. If your dog is allergic to peanuts, his body’s immune system identifies peanuts as a harmful substance and tries to fight it.
Allergic reactions won’t happen if the dogs have mere skin contact with peanuts; the problem arises when they ingest it or it touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. Dogs that are allergic to peanuts exhibit several reactions when they eat peanuts. These include; itchy skin, redness of the skin, tingling of the mouth, difficulty breathing, nausea, diarrhea, runny nose, etc.
In severe cases, an anaphylactic reaction might result in which the dog appears to be dizzy, has a rapid pulse, and loses consciousness. If your dogs are allergic to peanuts and somehow ingest them, you should take them to the vet immediately.
Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi found on peanuts. This mold is commonly found in the warm, humid regions of the world, where peanuts and other legumes are grown, harvested, and stored. Owing to their soft and permeable underground pods, it is easy for the fungi to attach themselves to the peanuts easily.
Aflatoxin is carcinogenic and can cause liver cancer. Dogs can risk aflatoxin poisoning by eating infected peanuts or even inhaling dust generated by handling them.
Although roasting, boiling, or processing peanuts removes these fungi from the peanuts, aflatoxins are not entirely killed when peanuts are processed. Hence, even processed products of peanuts ( such as peanut butter) might still be a carrier of aflatoxins.
Aflatoxin poisoning, also known as aflatoxicosis, develops a few days after the dog eats a large amount of the contaminated peanut. The symptoms may set in after several weeks. These include nausea, yellow discoloration of the skin and mucosa, diarrhea, weakness, etc.
Additionally, the mold content of peanuts can be reduced by soaking or fermenting the peanuts. Dogs experiencing aflatoxin poisoning may display symptoms such as loss of appetite, sluggishness, vomiting, jaundice( due to liver damage), and diarrhea.
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Is Peanut Butter Safe for Dogs?
Generally, most peanut butter is safe for your dog if your dog isn’t allergic to peanuts and peanut butter. The peanut butter should be unsalted and unsweetened.
Another thing you should watch out for is if the peanut butter contains xylitol, a harmful chemical that can damage your dog’s internal organs. Overfeeding your dogs with peanut butters that contain xylitol excess can cause xylitol poisoning. Xylitol poisoning can lead to vomiting, weakness, seizures, and death.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Excess Peanuts
Peanuts are safe for dogs if consumed in moderate amounts. If you find out that your dog has eaten excess amounts of peanuts or peanut butter and he’s showing signs of discomfort, you should consult the veterinarian immediately.
Other Nuts That Can Serve as Alternatives to Peanuts
In the interim, here are other nuts that provide nutritional benefits to dogs and can be fed to dogs in small quantities.
Peanuts make a great snack for dogs; however, moderation is key. There are also many healthy commercial dog foods that you can serve your dogs without worrying about side effects.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kovaleva_Ka/Shutterstock.com
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