Peanut butter is a healthy dog treat that provides essential vitamins for a healthy coat and immune system, but this treat can trigger irritable bowel disease symptoms for some dogs. Not all dogs with irritable bowel disease, also known as IBD, are going to have the same symptom triggers. Consult with your dog's veterinarian before changing your dog's diet.
Peanut butter is not a low-fat snack for dogs. Peanut butter is considered a good fat because of the heart benefits offered by monounsaturated fats, but to a dog with intestinal inflammation, these fats can irritate the digestive tract. There are several brands that offer reduced-fat peanut butter, but even these may be too fatty for a dog with inflammation to the intestinal lining. One option is to try a peanut butter enriched with omega-3 fatty acids since these acids can help decrease intestinal inflammation. An alternative treat for dog's with IBD triggered by peanut butter is using low-fat or fat-free yogurt. The yogurt can be frozen for a cold treat and it's an alternative filling for chew toys.
Some dogs with IBD can tolerate the fat in peanut butter and they benefit from the high fiber offered by this tasty treat. With IBD, the movement of food through the digestive tract is hyperactive, so nutrients are not absorbed and the dog will experience vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactive bowel sounds, weight loss and lethargy. Most dogs experience relief of these symptoms by adding fiber to the diet since fiber absorbs water and slows the digestive tract.
Peanut Butter Decision
The best way to determine if peanut butter triggers your dog's IBD is to stop giving him peanut butter and see if the symptoms disappear or improve. If after a few days, you notice your dog is having fewer bowel movements, is not vomiting and isn't lounging around the house feeling miserable, it's likely you've found and eliminated an IBD trigger. If the symptoms continue, there is something else or more foods causing the problem. Your dog's veterinarian can help you develop a diet for your dog, but finding the right diet to control IBD can take time since there's not one special diet that works for all dogs. If you decide to continue giving your dog peanut butter, choose an organic peanut butter that's free of preservatives, additives and artificial coloring.
There are medications that help relieve symptoms of IBD that your dog's veterinarian may prescribe. Medications are especially helpful when the target foods of IBD are unknown. For dogs with IBD, there seems to be an immune response to an unspecified stimulant, which could or could not be peanut butter for your dog. Steroids can help suppress the immune system so your dog's digestive immune response is reduced. There are also a vast number of anti-diarrhea and anti-vomiting medications to slow the digestive tract, as well as medications that add a protective barrier to the intestinal lining.
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.