Olives are a human food that provides us — the humans of the household — with a variety of health benefits, including healthy fats that protect against heart disease. So, this fruit makes a great addition to any human diet, but is it a good addition to our dog’s diet? Can dogs eat olives?
Yes, dogs can eat olives. Every part of this fruit is non-toxic to dogs, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good choice for our furry friends. While a few olives won’t harm your dog, we rarely feed this food to our pets because there are several risks associated with it.
Learn about the risks of giving olives to dogs. Plus, find out how to reduce those risks so your dog can eat olives safely, and discover other healthy foods you can share with your dog instead of this snack.
What Are the Risks of Feeding Olives to Dogs?
While olives are a healthy human food and may even have benefits for your dog’s health, there are several risk factors that may make you think twice about sharing this snack with your best friend.
The most immediate risk of feeding this fruit to dogs is the olive pit. While olive pits aren’t toxic to dogs in the way that some fruit pits are (like cherry pits), they’re a serious choking hazard. The risk of choking is especially high in small dogs. And the pit can crack your dog’s tooth or cause similar dental problems in dogs who are diligent about chewing their food.
Even if your dog successfully swallows olives with the pits inside, it could cause problems further down their digestive tract. Eating multiple olive pits can lead to an intestinal blockage, a serious condition that may require medical care.
If your dog has swallowed multiple whole olives, watch for signs of a blockage, including lethargy and sensitivity when their stomach is touched. Call your vet if you notice these symptoms.
High Salt Content
Because olives are brined, they contain high levels of sodium. The sodium content of just one black olive is 32 milligrams, which makes eating lots of olives bad for dogs.
While dogs need a small amount of sodium in their diet, they’ll get it from their dog food as long as they receive a complete and balanced diet. Over time, excess salt in your dog’s diet can lead to health issues, just like it does for people. Eating salty food is suspected of contributing to high blood pressure and heart disease in dogs.
In extreme cases, eating large quantities of salt at a time — especially when not enough fresh water is available — can lead to salt toxicosis in dogs. Salt toxicosis is a serious and sometimes fatal condition. Early signs include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and seizures. Head to your vet’s office immediately if you notice these warning signs or suspect your dog has eaten too much salt.
High Fat Content
Olives are also high in fat. The fat in olives is monounsaturated fat, the same kind you find in olive oil. This healthy fat is what makes olives, olive oil, and the Mediterranean diet healthy choices for humans. It can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
High cholesterol is an underdiagnosed problem in dogs, and the good fats in olives may actually improve your pet’s health if they have this condition. But for dogs with pancreatitis, even good fats can be risky.
Pancreatitis is a common condition that makes dogs unable to digest fat. For these dogs, eating high-fat foods can be life-threatening. If your dog has ever been diagnosed with pancreatitis, you should not feed them olives.
While plain olives aren’t toxic to dogs, marinated and stuffed olives are often made with ingredients that are bad for our furry friends. For example, most marinated olives contain garlic and onions, which are toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities. For small dogs, just a few cloves of garlic could be toxic, so it’s especially important to avoid feeding your dog garlic clove-stuffed olives.
Marinated olives often contain spicy peppers, as well. While spicy peppers aren’t poisonous to dogs, they can cause extreme discomfort and irritation, including sneezing and digestive upset.
Peppers that aren’t spicy, like bell peppers, are okay for dogs to eat and can even be a healthy snack. It’s safe for your dog to eat pimento-stuffed olives as long as pimentos are the only added ingredient and the mix doesn’t include garlic and onions.
Dogs that aren’t lactose intolerant can eat feta and goat cheese-stuffed olives, but your pooch should never eat blue cheese-stuffed olives. The fungus that makes blue cheese blue is a tremorgenic mycotoxin — it causes a toxic reaction that leads to tremors, loss of coordination, seizures, vomiting, and diarrhea in dogs.
Garlic poisoning has similar symptoms. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, take them to the vet immediately.
How Can Dogs Eat Olives Safely?
Can dogs eat olives? Yes. However, because of these risk factors, olives aren’t the best food snack to share with your dog.
But, if you simply can’t resist those puppy eyes, how can dogs eat olives safely? Follow these precautions to make olives safe for dogs.
Remove the Pits
Before you share olives with your four-legged friend, remove the pits to reduce your dog’s risk of choking or cracking a tooth. You can also buy pitted olives to save yourself this step.
Stick to Plain Olives
It doesn’t make a difference if dogs eat black olives, green olives, Kalamata olives, or any of the thousands of other varieties — all types of olives are safe for dogs as long as they’re pitted and plain.
To avoid risky seasonings, only feed your dog plain olives, not marinated or stuffed olives. Look for low-sodium or unsalted olives if you’re buying this snack specifically for your dog. And don’t give your dog a premade meal with olives unless you’re sure it doesn’t contain garlic or onions and that every single ingredient in it is safe for dogs.
Only give your dog olives in small quantities. One or two olives is usually enough for a snack, and keeping the serving small will help you avoid adding too much salt or fat to your dog’s diet.
Anytime you give your dog a new food, it could cause an upset stomach, especially if your pooch has a touchy tummy. You can avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach by introducing new foods slowly and only giving your pet one or two bites at a time.
Are There Any Health Benefits of Olives for Dogs?
The biggest health benefit of olives for dogs comes from the healthy fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease. This fruit also contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, including the antioxidant vitamin E, which can help protect your dog’s immune system. And it provides small amounts of vitamin A, iron, copper, and calcium.
However, to make olives good for dogs, you have to feed them in small amounts to avoid feeding your dog too much salt.
Because your dog will only be eating small quantities of olives, this fruit won’t give them enough vitamins and minerals to make an impact on their overall health. And if your dog is eating a complete and balanced diet, they’ll already be getting enough of these nutrients from their dog food.
Alternatives to Olives
While olives do offer some health benefits, their high sodium content makes them less than ideal for dogs. To give your best friend similar health benefits without all the salt, try offering your dog one of these tasty treats instead.
- Olive oil: This healthy oil provides all of the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats of olives without all the salt. You can try adding a teaspoon to your dog’s food as a tasty topper.
- Fish oil: Fish oil, like Native Pet’s Omega Oil, contains polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 fatty acids. This type of fat is even healthier than monounsaturated fats and can help protect your dog’s heart, joint, skin, and coat health. It also makes a tasty dog food topper for picky eaters.
Choose Oils Over Olives
So, can dogs eat olives? Yes, dogs can safely eat a few plain, pitted olives. However, this snack is best saved for dog owners and other humans in your household. The high sodium content makes this fruit an unhealthy snack for your furry friend. Plus, some olives contain dangerous seasonings or are stuffed with ingredients, like garlic cloves and blue cheese, that are toxic to our pets.
As long as your dog doesn’t have a health condition that prevents them from eating fat, the healthy fats in olives are just as good for your best friends as they are for you. But there are better ways to give your dog these good fats. Try adding a spoonful of olive oil — or even better, a fish oil supplement — to your dog’s food so they can enjoy the health benefits of healthy fats.
For more information about your dog’s health and wellness, check out the Native Pet blog.