Dog eating a pickle

Key takeaway

Pickles are considered safe for dogs, but they shouldn’t be fed pickles in large quantities. It's typically best to avoid feeding your dog pickles because of the potentially dangerous ingredients used to make them. Instead, opt for its healthy counterpart: cucumbers.

Pickles are non-toxic to dogs, but they're made with sodium and other ingredients that can be harmful, especially when consumed in large quantities. While giving your dog a small piece of your pickle shouldn't cause GI upset, they aren't the healthiest snack for your dog. As such, there's no reason to use them as treats or give them to your dog at all.

Of course, accidents happen. If your dog steals a small piece of pickle off your plate, the likelihood of adverse side effects is small. However, you shouldn't offer your dog pickles. If you've ever wondered, "Are pickles bad for dogs?" you've come to the right place. This article will discuss pickles for dogs, including why you shouldn't share them with your pet even though they aren't necessarily harmful.

Can dogs eat pickles?

Are Pickles Good for Dogs?

While many dogs will beg for a bite when they see you eating pickles, they're not the best snack for your canine companion. Pickles are made from cucumbers so they're a vegetable, and there are several potential health benefits, including vitamins. However, your dog can get all the nutrients they need from their regular diet, so there's no reason to feed them a snack that may cause digestive problems.

Cucumbers are a great snack for dogs, but that doesn't mean pickles are. Pickles are created with spices that can be harmful to dogs. They're soaked in brine, vinegar, and other ingredients, plus they often contain high amounts of sodium. Additionally, spices, such as garlic, onion, and chili powder, used during the pickling process can cause adverse side effects. Additionally, while cucumbers are a healthy, low-calorie snack, they typically lose much of their nutritional value during the soaking process.1

Even if the brine doesn't contain toxic ingredients, pickles still contain high amounts of sodium, which can lead to GI upset and other complications.1 Too much sodium can cause mild to severe side effects, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures

Remember, your dog already receives everything they need, including sodium, from their regular kibble or wet food. So, there's no reason to add an unhealthy snack to their diet, especially if they have a medical condition.

Reasons Not to Give Your Dog Pickles

If you're considering giving your dog pickles, you may want to think twice. Here are a few reasons you shouldn't give your dog pickles:

Reasons not to give your dog pickles

High salt content

Sodium is an integral part of every dog's diet. However, your dog most likely already gets enough sodium from their kibble or wet food. So, adding more sodium to their diet can have many health consequences. Not only can too much salt cause GI problems, but it can be dangerous for dogs with existing health conditions.1

Additionally, too much salt in healthy dogs can result in excessive thirst and dehydration, which can be potentially dangerous. Other signs of salt poisoning in dogs include GI upset, so if your dog has diarrhea or is throwing up, it can indicate that they've had too much salt.2 Excessive amounts of salt can lead to more severe symptoms, including tremors, high fever, seizures, and death, so it's always best to avoid feeding your dog salty foods.

Toxic ingredients

Pickles are typically made with cucumbers, brine, spices, sugar, and other ingredients that can be toxic to your pet.1 Many of the ingredients used in pickles include some of the most toxic foods to avoid feeding your dog, such as garlic and onion, which can lead to anemia and even death.

Of course, pickles may not contain enough toxic ingredients to cause health problems, but it's always best to avoid them. Even small amounts of garlic and onion can cause gastrointestinal irritation.2

Additionally, even though sugar isn't fatal to dogs, it can contribute to health problems, such as weight gain, obesity, and diabetes. Since pickles may contain small amounts of sugar and very few health benefits, there's no need to give your dog pickles as a treat or snack.

Gastrointestinal upset

The vinegar and different spices used to create pickles can cause mild to severe GI upset in dogs. For example, vinegar can cause problems in dogs with kidney issues, and salt toxicity can occur from too much salt in your dog's diet. Most GI problems dogs have after eating pickles are due to the spices and salt.

Pickles may also exacerbate dog allergies in dogs that are allergic or intolerant to some types of foods.

Pickle Alternatives for Dogs

IIf you want to share a healthy, low-calorie snack with your dog, there are more nutritious, safer options than pickles. Cucumbers, for example, are a great snack and treat for dogs because they're essentially pickles but without all the harmful ingredients.

Cucumbers are a safe pickle alternative for dogs

They're also ideal for dogs with health conditions, including diabetes and obesity, because they only have about eight calories per half-cup.3 Unlike pickles, cucumbers won’t dehydrate your dog. Instead, they're a hydrating vegetable that can prevent dehydration.

Other great pickle alternatives for dogs include:

  • Carrots: Carrots are a deliciously crunchy alternative to pickles. They're low in calories and high in fiber, which can improve your dog's digestion. Carrots are also packed with vitamin A and can encourage good oral health.
  • Peas: Peas are a great low-calorie snack for dogs, and they're small enough that you can use them as training treats. Peas are low calorie, contain several vitamins and minerals, and are rich in protein and fiber.
  • Green beans: Green beans are one of the most vet-recommended human foods for dogs because they're low in calories and delicious.
  • Apples: Apples are another healthy snack with a crunch. Apples are full of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber to help dogs maintain healthy weights.
  • Blueberries: Blueberries contain antioxidants to prevent cell damage and improve your dog's overall health and wellness.

Always consider your dog's daily calorie intake when feeding them treats. It's always best to follow the 10% rule when feeding your pet anything outside their regular diet. The 10% rule states that you should never feed your pet treats that will make up more than 10% of their diet.4 If you're unsure how many calories your dog needs, consider consulting your vet to discuss different treat options that can promote better health.

Of course, when giving your dog any safe human food, always give it to them plain. For example, you don't need to cook green beans in oils with salt and seasonings like you would for yourself. Instead, you can steam vegetables. Also, it's best to chop up any snacks you share with your dog to prevent choking.

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Pickles

A single bite of a pickle won't hurt most dogs.3 However, there's no reason to feed your dog pickles as a treat. If your dog eats any amount of pickles, it's best to monitor them for signs of dehydration or GI symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea. In most cases, a bite of a pickle or a single pickle isn't enough to be fatal. However, if your dog eats an entire jar of pickles or drinks pickle juice, it's best to consult your vet. If you notice any signs of toxicity in pets, take your dog to the vet to be on the safe side.

Person monitoring dog after eating pickles

Depending on your dog's health and size, your vet may choose to have you monitor them closely over the next 24 hours, or they may ask you to come in immediately for treatment. It can take up to 12 hours or more for your pet to start showing signs of toxicity, so if your dog consumes an excessive amount of pickles or pickle juice, talk to your vet immediately for the next steps.

Can Dogs Eat Pickles?: FAQs

How many pickles can dogs eat?

There's no reason to feed your dog pickles, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. The health benefits of pickles don’t outweigh the potential risks. Of course, if your dog eats a pickle off your plate, it's best to monitor them for signs of illness. However, you should never feed your dog pickles, especially because the ingredients used in the pickling process can be harmful.

Can dogs eat dill pickles?

Dill pickles are made with dill, an herb safe for pets. However, that doesn't mean your dog should eat dill pickles. It's typically best not to feed your dog any pickles because they contain high levels of salt and other potentially harmful ingredients, such as garlic, onion, and sugar.

Can dogs have pickle juice?

Dogs shouldn’t have pickle juice because it doesn't provide them with any health benefits. Pickle juice often contains salt, vinegar, and spices that preserve the pickles, so it's ultimately a concoction of potentially dangerous ingredients. Most dogs won’t like the taste of pickle juice, but it's best to keep the jar closed and away from pets that may be curious because it can cause severe GI problems and dehydration in dogs.

Final Notes

Pickles are essentially cucumbers, so you may think they're a healthy treat for your dog. Unfortunately, turning cucumbers into pickles involves using potentially dangerous and toxic ingredients, including vinegar, garlic, onion, and salt. While pickles may have some health benefits, the risks outweigh the reward. Instead, choose a healthy snack for your dog, like apples, cucumbers, or carrots.

Not sure what to feed your pet? Dutch is here for you to help you learn everything you need to know about pet nutrition. Schedule your first telemedicine for pets appointment today with Dutch. We can help you feed your dog a balanced diet full of all the essential nutrients they need to stay healthy and strong.

References

  1. Anastasio, Alexandra. “Can Dogs Eat Pickles?” American Kennel Club, 29 Jan. 2020, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/advice/can-dogs-eat-pickles/.

  2. “People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets.” ASPCA, https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets.

  3. Burke, Anna. “Can Dogs Eat Cucumbers?” American Kennel Club, 5 Nov. 2019, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-cucumbers/.

  4. Burke, Anna. “How Many Treats to Give a Dog a Day.” American Kennel Club, 30 Aug. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/how-many-treats-can-dog-have/.