The sharing of human snacks is a topic which tends to divide dog owners. I personally like to go by the adage of ‘everything in moderation’. Letting my dog sometimes have human foods is both a fun way to enrich his life with new experiences, and a great way to incorporate high value rewards in our training. Obviously I’m careful about what tidbits I choose for him though, and that leads me to the topic of this article: can dogs have Nutter Butters? And the answer is ‘very occasionally, in most cases’. But there are some things to consider first, and it might not be the right choice for every dog.
Can dogs have Nutter Butters?
Nutter Butters are the best known peanut butter sandwich cookie in the world. They’ve been around for over 50 years, and given rise to spin-off cereals, chocolate fudge covered versions, and wafer alternatives. Since they’re filled with smooth peanut butter, and dogs are famous peanut butter lovers, are these cookies the perfect cheeky sweet treat?
Original Nutter Butters are safe for most dogs to eat, in the sense that they are not toxic. Chocolate coated Nutter Butters like some of the ones in this photo are obviously not suitable for dogs, since chocolate contains theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs. But at the time of writing, none of the ingredients used to make original Nutter Butters are dangerous. Most dogs who consume a Nutter Butter won’t suffer any harm, and will probably be quite delighted by their tasty treat. However, there are some other safety considerations to be aware of, before you reach for the cookie jar.
Can Nutter Butters harm your dog?
Nutter Butters aren’t a suitable snack for your pooch if they are allergic to any of the ingredients. Since they are dense in calories and high in fat, they can also contribute to or exacerbate problems like obesity and pancreatitis.
Nutter Butters contain wheat, soy, and of course, peanuts. All of which are among the most commonly diagnosed allergens for dogs. Since it is also possible for your dog to be allergic to almost anything besides, always read the packaging of new foods to make sure they don’t contain anything your pet is allergic to. If there are ingredients in these cookies that your dog hasn’t tried before, it’s a good idea to only let them try a very small quantity at first. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to something in them include:
- Itchy skin, paws, or ears
- Sore watery eyes
- Digestive disturbances such as vomiting or diarrhea
If your dog shows signs of any of these after sampling Nutter Butters, don’t give them any more. If the symptoms are severe, ask your vet for advice.
Obesity is a growing (ahem) problem for our pet dogs, and research indicates that being fed human foods increases the likelihood of being overweight. Overweight dogs are more likely to also be diagnosed with
- Heart disease
- Some cancers
Carrying excess weight also exacerbates conditions such as hip dysplasia and heat stroke. Research also shows us that it reduces both life expectancy, and the quality of remaining years.
Each Nutter Butter cookie contains 60 calories, which depending on exactly what you feed them normally is equivalent to 1 – 2 tablespoons of kibble. So, if your dog is on a diet plan for weight loss, there are healthier snacks to choose them than Nutter Butters. And even if they are a healthy weight, be mindful of how many Nutter Butters you offer, and how often. They should be a rare treat!
Peanut butter and cookie dough are both high in fat, including unhealthy trans fats like hydrogenated vegetable oil. High fat foods, and consuming a lot of human snacks in place of nutritionally balanced dog foods, are both risk factors for pancreatitis even in dogs at a healthy weight. Which is another reason to strictly moderate how many they have, or avoid them altogether if your dog has any other predispositions for this disease.
When are Nutter Butters safe for dogs?
Nutter Butters don’t present an immediate danger to most dogs, but they can make your dogs unwell if they are allergic to any of the ingredients, or if snacking on cookies becomes part of a pattern of behavior that puts them at risk of obesity or pancreatitis.
Provided none of these things apply, then you might decide to share a Nutter Butter with your pup as a very occasional special treat. Such as on their birthday. In fact, the only time I’ve pulled out a Nutter Butter for my dog so far is when I called him back from approaching a horse and rider who appeared suddenly whilst we were hiking. I know how hard it was for him to resist that kind of distraction, and from a training perspective it was pretty reckless to even try using my recall cue. But I blurted it out anyway, and when he responded I knew I needed to make it really worth his while – and the best thing I had were the Nutter Butters I had packed for my daughter.
My dog earned his cookie that day, but I know other people will say it’s simply not worth ever feeding dogs foodstuffs intended for humans. It is very hard to pretend that Nutter Butters have any nutritional qualities which wouldn’t be better coming from another source in most cases! And importantly, there are lots of more suitable treats which are likely to excite your dog just as much, or even more.
Alternatives to Nutter Butters for dogs
I think it’s fair to say that most people only think about giving their dog cookies in the first place because they want to do a nice thing for them. And possibly because they have been fixed with a sad and longing gaze!
Here are some guilt-free alternatives to Nutter Butters which your dog will like just as much:
- Homemade dog treats with peanut butter. When you make peanut butter treats to a recipe designed for dogs, you’ll get the same irresistible flavor, but you have total control over the ingredients. For example, you can sweeten them with pumpkin or sweet potato instead of sugar syrups, and leave out anything you know or suspect your pet to be allergic to. Scroll back to the top of this article for a video with a recipe idea.
- Crispy fish skins. Have you heard the saying ‘fat equals flavor’? It’s a big reason why peanut butter cookies are so moreish. But crispy fish skins from mackerel or salmon are free from sugar and rich in healthy fatty acids like omega-3, instead of the unhealthy fats in Nutter Butters. Pick them up in pet stores or online.
- Chicken. Skinless, unseasoned, baked or steamed chicken breast is a winning treat if you want to share something special with your dog. Serve it warm and juicy, and they will enjoy it far more than they would ever appreciate a Nutter Butter.
Can dogs have Nutter Butters? Summary
Nutter Butters aren’t toxic to dogs, but nor are they a nutritious snack. Offering one very occasionally is unlikely to cause any harm, but avoid sharing this treat if your dog is overweight, or has pancreatitis. And of course, never share them if they have been dipped in chocolate!
Does your dog enjoy this crunchy, creamy cookie? Let us know in the comments box down below!
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa’s online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website