Can Dogs Eat Pickles?

Dog Health Recent April 26, 2022
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Can Dogs Eat Pickles?

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Pickles may be an excellent snack for humans, but are there benefits to giving your dog pickles? Or are there risks involved? The occasional pickle may offer your dog some health benefits, but when given too much can cause digestive issues.

It is recommended that your dog is provided with a healthy protein-rich diet and only given fruits and vegetables as additional snacks. Pickles are not toxic to dogs, but they are incredibly high in sodium and contain ingredients that could be potentially harmful to your dog.

Keep reading to learn more about dogs eating pickles and what alternatives you may offer instead.

What Are Pickles?

Pickles are a cucumber that has been fermented in brine, vinegar, or syrup solution. Pickles can come in various flavors, so choosing the kind of pickle your dog can eat is more complicated. Some pickles contain a low amount of salt and leave out dangerous additives and preservatives.

Do Pickles Have Health Benefits for My Dog?

The veggie cucumber that pickles are made from contains many vitamins and minerals. However, the pickling process destroys many of the cucumbers’ health benefits.

Pickles are a high fiber, low fat, and calorie snack, but plain cucumbers do not contain high levels of sodium and harmful ingredients.  Offering your dog plain cucumbers is a better option than offering pickles. If the pickles you provide your dog only contain cucumber, brine, vinegar, and dill, it should be okay if they have a small bite on occasion.

Dill pickles contain dill, which can help damaged cells with antioxidants. Dill does have health benefits but offering your dog fresh dill on its own will provide more significant health benefits.

Why Are Pickles Bad For Dogs?

Like kosher dill pickles and bread and butter pickles, most pickles include spices and herbs such as garlic, which is known to be toxic to dogs. Other types of pickles, like spicy or hot pickles, can affect their stomachs because your dog will not be able to handle the spiciness, and that can lead to gastrointestinal issues.

In addition to the spices in pickles, the high sodium content can affect an underlying medical condition and lead to more issues later. Also, eating large amounts of sodium in a short amount of time may cause your dog to vomit, have diarrheas, excessive drinking, have balance issues, or have seizures.

Sodium is an essential nutrient in a dog’s diet, even with warnings and side effects. A small amount is necessary for normal bodily function, and if sodium levels get too low, it can cause the body and brain to be at risk. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) states that commercial dry dog food contains at least 0.3 percent of sodium to maintain, grow, and develop in the body.

Because sodium is already a part of your dog’s diet, pickles will only raise those levels. For example, a medium-size dog should consume no more than 100 milligrams of sodium a day.

What is in Pickles?

Whether plain, fermented, or brined, a pickle itself may offer nutrients for your dog, but certain ingredients used in the pickling process can become a problem. Here are some ingredients you will most likely find in a jar of pickles.

Apple cider vinegar is commonly used to ferment pickles. It is raw unpasteurized vinegar containing the “mother culture,”  a probiotic or good bacteria. These healthy bacteria break down sugars to create a sour taste. Apple cider vinegar is more beneficial than the distilled white vinegar used in most grocery store pickles.

Distilled white vinegar contains no nutritional value for your dog. It can pressure kidneys and cause stomach upset and diarrhea. However,  if your dog eats a dropped pickle, the chances of adverse effects are not likely.

Sugar is found in sweet pickles and bread-and-butter pickles in large amounts. One pickle can contain 7-30 grams of it alone. Always check the label for amounts, especially if your dog is overweight or has diabetes.

Salt is also used to pickle, and large amounts of sodium are unsuitable for your pup.

Onions and garlic are also typical pickling ingredients. These are from the allium family of root vegetables, including chives, leeks, and scallions. These vegetables contain n-propyl-disulfide, an organic compound that can affect your dog’s red blood cells and lead to anemia in dogs.

Cloves found in sweet pickles are acceptable for your dog if the sweet pickle is an occasional treat or manage to get a slice. But if the recipe includes cinnamon and nutmeg, it could cause a stomach upset or worse if your dog reacts to the compound. These ingredients contain Myricitrin which is toxic if consumed in large quantities. Usually, a small amount will not cause harm.

Dill is very beneficial for your dog, but the pickling process can destroy its nutritional value. Dill will not only freshen your dog’s bad breath, but it contains powerful antioxidants that reduce inflammation, prevent some cancers and help treat gas or digestive discomfort. Fresh dill is still the better option.

Can I Give My Dog Pickle Juice?

Pickle juice isn’t recommended for dogs because it is mostly salt, spices, and vinegar which doesn’t provide any health benefits to your dog. The high sodium and herbs help preserve the pickles for extended periods, but these ingredients aren’t healthy options for dogs. For this reason, it isn’t recommended that you give your dog pickle juice.

What Are Some Alternative Treats to Pickles?

While your pup should avoid pickles, there are several other healthy treats you can offer. A good rule of thumb is to keep your dog’s treat intake to 10 percent or less of their total daily calorie consumption.

Other good healthy treat alternatives to pickles include the following:

  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Unsweetened peanut butter
  • Blueberries
  • Lean chicken
  • Pumpkin
  • Watermelon (seedless)

What Do I Do If My Dog Eats A Pickle?

If your dog manages to get a hold of a pickle when you turn away for a minute, don’t worry. While we state it is unsafe for dogs to eat pickles, it is not something to lose your cool over unless they ate a whole jar.

Pickles are high in sodium, so be sure your dog has plenty of water. Watch for vomiting and diarrhea, and do not hesitate to call your vet if you notice your dog develops these symptoms. Your vet may suggest coming in for a check-up or offering solutions to help your dog feel better faster.

If your dog consumed store-bought dill pickles, then check the product ingredient label to be sure there are no ingredients that could be dangerous. Some dill pickle products may contain a higher concentration of garlic or onion-based ingredients, making them more dangerous for dogs.

Final Thoughts

So are pickles safe for dogs to eat? As you can see, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. While most pickles are not harmful to dogs when given in small amounts, there are some exceptions. Before offering your dog, a pickle for a snack, consider other healthy options listed in this article. Remember that treats should make up no more than 10 percent of your pup’s daily calories.

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Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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