Can Dogs Eat Pickles Safely? It Depends

Written by Austin S.
Published: June 15, 2022
Image Credit Masarik/Shutterstock.com
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Pickles, crispy and crunchy with a salty-sour taste, are just the perfect eat-alongside meal for hot dogs and sandwiches. Pickles are low in calories, and they contain valuable nutrients— minerals and vitamins. All these seemingly make them a healthy choice for dog treats. 

But the real question is, on your dog’s menu, where do pickles belong? Trash or main dish? Are pickles safe for your dog? The answer isn’t a strong yes, nor is it a solid No. It somewhat depends, but most vets will not recommend them. Let’s dive into why.

Are Pickles Safe for Your Dogs’ Health?

The answer to this question is that it depends. Your dog can safely eat pickles, but it depends on the preservative method and additional spices added while the pickle is made. 

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Generally, pickles are not outrightly toxic to dogs. They contain some nutritional benefits for your dog. But the flaw with pickles is that they contain a high sodium content that is potentially dangerous to your dog’s health. Why do pickles have high sodium content?

Pickles are cucumbers that have been preserved by fermentation in brine or total immersion in vinegar. This process is known as Pickling. In the pickling process, other spices are added as well. These spices and the salt in brine are responsible for the high sodium content in pickles. 

As stated earlier, most vet would recommend you stay off spiced pickles for your dogs. It’s better to stay on the safer side and avoid feeding your dog spiced pickles than to take a risk on your dog’s health.

If you must feed your dog pickles, you should opt for plain pickles without any additional spicing. Feed your dogs in moderate quantities and make sure they have access to a lot of water. This is because the high sodium content in pickles causes dehydration.

pickles
Some types of pickles may be dangerous for dogs, particularly those that are spiced or with high sodium content.

Chatham172/Shutterstock.com

Different Types of Spicing for Pickles

There are different kinds of additional spicing for pickles:

Dill Pickles

The dill-containing pickle is one of the most popular. It is cucumber soaked in brine and mixed with dill. Although dill is a herb and it contains antioxidants. This shouldn’t make you feed your dog excess dill pickles. 

Dill is safe for your dog’s health, but other preservatives like brine and vinegar make dill-pickles toxic to your dog. You should try adding fresh dill to your dog’s diet if you want your dog to eat dill.

Bread-and-Butter Pickles

These pickles are generally sweeter. They are made with cucumbers, brine, peppers, sugar, onions, garlic, and spices. The ingredients of this pickle are toxic to your dog. For example, garlic and onions damage your dog’s red blood cells and can lead to anemia.

Although these ingredients are not in excessive quantities, it is best if you stay away from them nonetheless for your dog’s health.

Hot-and-Spicy Pickles

As the name implies, this pickle is extra spicy. It contains cucumbers, brine, chili pepper, and other hot spices. All these ingredients can be harsh on your dog’s stomach and cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, etc.

It’s best to avoid them for your dog, especially dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Bread-and-Butter Pickles
Aside from spicy pickles, you should probably also refrain from giving your dog bread-and-butter pickles.

Michael Kraus/Shutterstock.com

Reasons You Shouldn’t Give Your Dogs Pickles

High-Sodium Content

Even though sodium is an essential nutrient in a healthy dog diet, only a small amount is required for normal body functions. A major ingredient in pickles production is salt. And these salt deposits raise the amount of sodium in pickles.

Pickles contain about 283 mg of sodium per pickle which is very high. Most vets recommend not feeding your dog more than 100mg of sodium per day. So a single pickle in your dog’s diet is equal to feeding your dog three times the recommended amount.

Consuming large amounts of sodium within a short time can be dangerous to your dog’s health. Excess sodium intake can cause side effects such as high blood pressure, excessive thirst, vomiting, ataxia, and seizures ( in extreme cases).

No Standard Recipe

Since pickles originated from the preservative process of cucumber, there is no manual nor a standard recipe for how it’s done right to suit your dog’s health. 

So unless you decide to do your research on what each pickle is made of before feeding your pet one, you are most likely taking a gamble with your dog’s health every time you feed it random pickles.

Health Benefits of Pickles

Low Calories

The average pickle is a low-calorie snack. It contains about 4 calories which makes it an ideal diet for weight loss. It is recommended for obese dogs and dogs on the verge of obesity.

High water Content

Cucumbers naturally contain about 96% water. Plain Pickles are preserved cucumbers that can keep your dog hydrated even while enjoying its treat. The High-Sodium content that comes with pickles spicing is what makes your dog prone to dehydration after consuming a few spiced pickles.

Low in Sugar and Carbohydrates

Pickles are low in sugar and carbohydrates. Since they are treats, carbohydrates and sugar should be in your dog’s main dish. Pickles are safe to feed your dogs without fear of being overweight.

High in Vitamins

Vitamin A, K, C, and B6 are abundant in pickles. Pickles are high in vitamins due to the Spicing and ingredients used in the pickling process. These vitamins are known for their antioxidant properties, which remove excess free radicals from your dog’s body and prevent inflammation.

What To Do If Your Dog Ate Excess Pickles?

If your canine friend ingested one or two pickles, there’s no cause for alarm. All you need to do is check what type of pickle it is, then study your dog’s reaction for 24-48hours. This is to make sure they have no adverse reactions after consumption.

Also, if you don’t know the kind of pickle your dog ate and you can’t figure out the quantity consumed, the best course of action is to take your dog to a vet immediately if you see signs like;

  • Excessive urination
  • Dehydration ( dry gums and excessive panting are indicators for this)
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

With their knowledge and experience, they would be able to detect and prevent any crisis or toxicity in your dog. They can also advise and recommend the best quality dog food you can feed your canine friend.

Also, to prevent regular reoccurrence, you should keep the pickle jar out of reach for your dogs.

What about 

Pickle Juice?

Pickle juice is a No! All the salt, sugar, and vinegar are in pickle juice, with little to no nutrition. It’s difficult to measure the amount of salt in pickle juice. And it is not healthy for your dog to ingest so much salt at once.

Some recommend pickle juice for treating dehydration in dogs, but the high-salt content will make your dog more dehydrated. We do not recommend it.

Fried Pickles?

As long as your dog isn’t allergic to wheat, yes, you can give your dog fried pickles. Pickles are often mixed with batter, which often contains wheat before they are fried. Dogs who are gluten intolerant may find it challenging to digest fried pickles.

Other Snacks You Should not Feed Your Dogs In Excess

Pickles are not the only treats that can pose a threat to your dog’s health if eaten in excess. For your dog’s health, you should feed your dog in moderate quantities with treats like:

Conclusion

While pickles contain a few health benefits for your dogs, it also poses a threat to your dog’s health. So are pickles safe for your dogs to eat? It depends. Remember, If you must feed your dog pickles, you should feed it plain pickles in moderate quantities.

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About the Author

Growing up in rural New England on a small scale farm gave me a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wild animal species, habitats, animal evolutions, dogs, cats, and more. I've always been surrounded by pets and believe the best dog and best cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. It's my mission to help you learn more about wild animals, and how to care for your pets better with carefully reviewed products.