The mighty pickle, with its crunchy texture and tangy, salty flavor, is a staple in kitchens everywhere. There’s no wonder why — they’re as versatile as they are delicious, used in everything from sandwiches and salads to burgers and marinades.
If the members of your household are pickle fans and you own a dog, you might be wondering: Can dogs eat pickles? Or are they potentially harmful to our canine friends?
While pickles aren’t outright toxic to dogs, they’re not completely safe, either. So, the answer is: No, dogs should not be fed pickles.
Keep reading to learn more about why our four-legged friends shouldn’t eat pickles and what to do if your dog does accidentally ingest this common human food.
Why Can’t Dogs Eat Pickles?
To understand why dogs can’t eat pickles, it’s helpful to understand what a pickle is.
A pickle is simply a cucumber that’s been preserved in a saltwater brine, usually with added vinegar and other seasonings. The classic dill pickle, for example, is made with fresh dill. Bread-and-butter pickles are sweeter and are usually made with sugar, onions, and garlic. And hot or spicy pickles are made with chili peppers. It’s these added ingredients, plus the high salt content, that make any type of pickle potentially dangerous for your pooch.
Although sodium is an essential part of your dog’s diet, too much is unhealthy. Eating large amounts of salty foods — pickles included — could lead to your dog experiencing health problems like high blood pressure, excessive thirst, ataxia (abnormal gait), and even seizures if the problem progresses to full-on salt poisoning.
Aside from salt, other ingredients used in the pickling process aren’t good for dogs, either. Onions and garlic, for example, are very bad for dogs — onion toxicity can lead to life-threatening anemia, a condition in which your dog’s red blood cells break down. And the sugar used in sweet pickles like the bread-and-butter variety can cause upset stomach, vomiting, and long-term health problems like arthritis, pancreatitis, and weight gain over time.
What About Pickle Juice or Fried Pickles?
Why are pickles bad for dogs? The high level of sodium and added ingredients. But what about pickle juice and other forms of pickles?
Pickle juice is a definite no-no; the high sodium content of pickles is mostly concentrated in the juice and is likely to cause health issues. Plus, pickle juice contains the other pickling ingredients that could harm your pooch, like onions, garlic, or hot spices.
Are fried pickles safe for dogs? Fried pickles are just what they sound like — pickles dipped in batter and deep-fried in oil. As you can probably guess, they’re not the best choice for your dog, either. Not only do you have all the potentially harmful ingredients of pickles themselves, but a lot of oil and fat is not good for your pup. Too many fried pickles can result in an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Are Cucumbers Safe For Dogs?
You may be asking yourself: If dogs can’t eat pickles, can they eat cucumbers? Take away all the salty water, vinegar, and added ingredients, and a pickle is simply a raw cucumber, after all.
The answer is yes — cucumbers are safe for dogs to consume and even offer a few health benefits. Cucumbers are low-calorie snacks that contain a lot of water, and they have some nutritional value, too. Cucumbers offer nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, antioxidants, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, among others.
Because of their high water content and low calorie count, some veterinarians and dog trainers even recommend using small cucumber chunks for dog training in place of dog treats. But even if you don’t use cucumber for training purposes, you can give your dog the occasional plain piece of cucumber as a tasty snack as long as you don’t overdo it.
As with any new food introduced into your dog’s diet, you’ll want to take it slow and only give your dog small amounts of cucumber at one time. Even healthy foods can cause your dog to experience an upset stomach or vomiting.
Looking for another way to add vitamins and minerals to your dog’s diet and provide a nutritional boost? Native Pet’s Bone Broth Topper is a great choice for adding nutrients like protein and collagen. Or, try our Omega Oil to supplement the diet with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help improve the skin and fur while boosting heart and joint health.
What If Your Dog Eats A Pickle?
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your dog might get a hold of a pickle and scarf it down. What do you do if this happens?
If your dog gobbles up one or two small pickles that you’ve dropped on the kitchen floor, it’s not a major cause for concern. Keep a close eye on your pup for the next day or so to make sure there are no adverse reactions like vomiting or diarrhea. If you do see anything amiss, call your vet to find out how to proceed. Your vet may suggest bringing your pet in for a checkup.
If your dog manages to eat a whole jar of pickles or scarf down several large pickles at once, the chance of side effects is much greater. Take your dog to the vet’s office right away if you see signs of trouble like:
- Excessive urination
- Pale gums
- Excessive panting
The symptoms above could be signs of onion toxicity or dehydration due to salt poisoning. These issues can be life-threatening, so you’ll want to have your pet examined as soon as possible.
Luckily, preventing your dog from getting their paws on an excessive amount of pickles is easy. Keep pickles where they belong: in the jar, stored in the refrigerator or cabinet. And of course, don’t give your dog pickles on purpose.
Yay or Nay: Can Dogs Eat Pickles?
What’s the bottom line — can dogs eat pickles or not? The answer is: No, dogs should not be fed pickles. Pickles and pickle juice have a high sodium content and may also contain other potentially harmful ingredients like onions, garlic, sugar, and hot spices. While it probably won’t cause problems if your dog eats a small pickle or two, too much can affect your dog’s health for the worse.
Ingesting large amounts of pickles can lead to health issues like high blood pressure, excessive thirst and urination, ataxia, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea, and even seizures. Don’t feed your dog pickles on purpose, and keep a close eye on them if they do manage to eat a pickle. If your pooch downs a lot of pickles or pickle juice, it’s worth setting up an appointment at the vet’s office.
Remember that cucumbers themselves are not harmful to dogs, and it’s safe to give your dog the occasional bit of cucumber as a treat. As long as you keep the chunks small and only give your dog a few chunks at a time, cucumber is the safe alternative to the pickle for our canine friends.
Want to learn more about your dog’s health, wellness, and dietary needs? Visit the Native Pet blog.