The answer may surprise you.

By Jennifer Nelson
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Peanut butter is a popular flavor for pup treats and you may already give your pooch dog-safe peanut butter in a tongue-clucking hollowed out toy or bone. "So, it's likely for you to assume that peanuts are safe for dogs to eat," says Dr. Claudine Sievert, a veterinarian and veterinary consultant at CatPetClub.

Can Dogs Eat Peanuts?

Peanuts can be a healthy choice as they are rich in protein, vitamin B-6, healthy fats, vitamin E, and niacin stresses Dr. Sievert. However, not all peanuts are dog-safe and there are some risks associated with them.

What Types of Peanuts Should Dogs Eat?

The only peanuts that dogs should really eat are unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts. "Salted peanuts contain more sodium than your dog needs, so they are unhealthy," says Dr. Sievert.

Boiled peanuts, a Southern favorite, may be okay if they're plain and unsalted, but typically these treats contain a lot of salt or seasonings like Cajun flavoring, cayenne pepper, and other spices that could upset your pup's tummy.

What's Wrong with Raw Peanuts?

Because peanuts grow in hot, moist environments, they can develop a fungus called Aflatoxin, produced from the Aspergillus spp fungus. "I do not recommend feeding raw peanuts due to the risk of aflatoxin ingestion," says Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian with Safe Hounds Pet Insurance. "Aflatoxin ingestion by a dog can cause acute liver failure," she says.

Aflatoxicosis most commonly develops one to two days after eating the contaminated food, but it may take several weeks for symptoms to show. Dogs with aflatoxin ingestion develop:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin, eyes, and gums
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness

"Dry-roasted peanuts will remove or significantly reduce the risk of aflatoxin," says Dr. Burch.

How Frequently Can Dogs Eat Peanuts?

When it comes to feeding your dog peanuts, moderation is key. Don't give them as a daily treat. "I recommend feeding only a small amount of unsalted, shelled dry-roasted peanuts on a very infrequent basis," says Dr. Burch. Peanuts have a high-fat content which can easily lead to vomiting and diarrhea symptoms.

Additionally, some dogs can develop pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, after eating peanuts because of the fat content. Symptoms of pancreatitis are vomiting, diarrhea lack of appetite, dehydration, and severe stomach pain.

Dr. Burch recommends sticking with dog-safe peanut butter for a snack instead to prevent gastroenteritis upset or pancreatitis. If you do give your pet a peanut or two, make sure it's salt-free, shelled, and dry-roasted and only offer a couple very infrequently to avoid any of the risks that peanuts pose.

*As always, consult your veterinarian before adding new foods to your dog's diet but consider asking about peanuts at your pup's next appointment.