Have you ever been munching on a tasty pickle and wondered if it’s okay to share with your dog? With their crisp texture and sour-salt taste they are a healthy choice for a human snack and go nicely in a sandwich or hamburger – but is it safe for your canine friend? If your dog has stolen a pickle, will they be okay?
The short answer is: yes and no. An occasional pickle will not harm your dog, and they do contain some nutritional goodness. However, they do also have some ingredients which you should not feed your dog often, so giving them pickles does come with a health warning and they are not recommended for regular canine consumption.
In this guide, we’ll talk about the benefits and drawbacks of feeding your dog pickles and look at a couple of healthy alternatives you might want to consider instead.
Are Pickles Good for Dogs?
While store-bought snacks and treats are a great supplement to your dog’s diet and a good way to reinforce training, you may prefer to share some human food with your dog as an occasional treat. Pickles do contain a range of vitamins and minerals, but unfortunately, the overall outlook isn’t that great for your dog.
So, what are pickles?
If you take a cucumber and then preserve it in salt-water, vinegar and spices, then you have a pickle! Some pickles are hotter, with a wider range of spices or herbs. This is one of the reasons that you should treat pickles for your dog with caution – there isn’t a set recipe, which means that they may have things added which are toxic or unhealthy for your dog without you realizing.
For example, the popular dill pickle has dill mixed in with soaking brine. Dill is a fresh herb with antioxidants, and while it is healthy and safe for your dog to eat, it’s actually a lot more beneficial to just add fresh dill to your dog’s food. Some people like to use a raw dog food diet, and adding the occasional herb can be good for your dog.
Other pickles contain onions and garlic, which can be deadly toxic for dogs, as well as sugars. While the amount of onion and garlic that your dog ingests with a pickle are probably not going to be large enough to lead to toxicity and deadly anemia, you should probably avoid them to be on the safe side.
Hot and spicy pickles can also contain too much chili pepper and other hot spices to be comfortable on your dog’s stomach, often leading to vomiting and diarrhea.
One of the key reasons to avoid pickles is the:
Sodium is actually an important nutrient in your dog’s diet and a small amount is required. However, in general, Commercial dog foods usually contain a perfectly adequate 0.3% sodium.
[amazon box=”B078VTQHGL” style=”light” title=”Wag Dry Dog Food, 35% Protein (Beef, Salmon, Turkey, Lamb)” template=”widget”]
However, too much at a time can cause side-effects from vomiting and diarrhea to dizziness, excessive drinking and even seizures.
Too much sodium can cause problems for many dogs, but in particular those with an underlying medical condition such as high blood pressure or being overweight.
Since your dog’s food already contains a perfectly adequate amount of sodium, it’s best to avoid foods that add any more to this.
How to Ensure Your Dog Can Eat Pickles Safely
Now that we’ve established that pickles must be treated with caution, is there any way that we can allow our pet to have a little nibble?
The answer is yes. If your dog dives for a pickle you’ve dropped, it’s not the end of the world. If you make your own pickles and ensure that they have only cucumber, vinegar, brine and dill, and you know that your pet doesn’t have any underlying health condition, then you should be okay to share the occasional pickle.
However, it would be better to avoid the pickles and feed some of the healthy alternatives below instead:
Healthy Alternatives to Pickles for Your Dog
While it’s okay to give a small amount of pickle to your dog, it may be a good idea to have a look at a range of alternatives, and probably better, snacks for your dog.
There are lots of healthy fruits and vegetables that your dog can eat, as well as a range of other safe human foods. It’s always best, when adding a new food to your dog’s diet, to start slowly, and check with your veterinarian.
A plain cucumber provides all the positive vitamins and minerals that you get in a pickle, but without the dangerous addition of the sodium or the spices. Feed in moderation, as too much of this can lead to loose stools.
A great source of Vitamins A and C and packed full of fiber. Apples are a great treat to help your dog’s digestive system.
They do come with a health warning though, as apple pips/ seeds can be toxic, so the core and seeds must be removed before you give the apple to your pet.
Exceptionally sweet, bananas are high in sugar so should only be an occasional treat. However, they are rich in copper, potassium and many vitamins, so they do have many benefits for your four-legged friend.
High in vitamins and fiber, you’ll find that your dog is a big fan of carrots. Not only do they taste sweet, but your dog will also enjoy crunching on them, which in turn is good for dental hygiene! A great addition to your dog’s diet, both cooked and raw.
Final Word: Can dogs eat pickles? They aren’t toxic, but should be avoided if possible
As you’ll have seen through this article, there is nothing toxic in a plain pickle, but they are high in sodium which isn’t great for dogs in large quantities, and there are sometimes additional ingredients in the pickling mix which don’t sit well with a dog’s digestive system.
If possible, pickles should be avoided, and a healthier alternative used as a treat or to supplement your dog’s normal diet.
This way, your dog stays healthier and enjoys a fuller and happier life with you.
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.