No more comic books! Back to veterinary stuff!
I frequently use peanut butter to give pills to my own dogs and recommend it to many clients. Peanuts are non-toxic, most dogs love it, it's cheap, and it's easily available. It really is a good treat for most of my patients and even my own pets. However, there may be some dangers.
Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener, most frequently used in sugar-free gum. If eaten in large enough amounts it can cause severe hypoglycemia and even liver damage in animals. Historically we've only worried about it in gums and similar sugar-free products (I blogged about it back in 2009 if you want to read more details). Now it has begun cropping up in peanut butter and it carries the same risks.
Thankfully xylitol hasn't been included in major brands of peanut butter. So far, only three small brands use it as an ingredient: Nuts 'n More, Krush Nutrition, and P-28 Foods. Here are some images of these companies' products for easy reference.
If you use any of these products, do not give it to your pets. If you're uncertain, check the ingredient label. But here's another warning....some companies will list "sugar alcohol", and while most chemicals in this category are safe, this listing could potentially include xylitol. It's better to be safe than sorry, especially considering that a large amount of xylitol could easily kill a dog, so if you're in doubt avoid the product.
This is a new situation and warning, so veterinarians will be keeping any eye on whether or not the big companies will use xylitol in their peanut butter. For now, most brands of peanut butter are perfectly safe, and I'll continue giving it to my own dogs. Just be cautious, and read the label closely.