The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. While most pickles in small amounts are not toxic to dogs, there are some exceptions.
And if you’re considering offering your dog a pickle as a treat, remember that you should always consult your veterinarian before introducing any new food into your pet’s diet. Also, note that snacks and treats should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calories.
Pickles are not toxic to dogs, and your pup will be perfectly fine if he gobbles one up that dropped to the floor. Pickles contain the same vitamins and minerals found in cucumbers, and they have the added digestive benefits of probiotics from the fermentation process.
Are Pickles Safe for My Dog?
In addition to the spices, the high sodium content can be especially problematic for dogs with underlying medical conditions, possibly leading to bigger problems down the line.
Dr. Fox adds that consuming a large amount of sodium in a short amount of time can cause side effects such as excessive drinking, vomiting, diarrhea, ataxia (loss of balance), and seizures.
Surprisingly, despite certain potentially negative impacts of sodium, it is an important nutrient in a dog’s diet. A small amount is necessary for normal body function, and if sodium levels drop too low, it can be dangerous, placing both the body and brain at risk.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that commercial dry dog food contain at least 0.3 percent of sodium, which allows for maintenance, growth, and development in the body.
Since sodium is already a part of your dog’s diet, Dr. Fox advises owners to be careful of additional foods, like pickles, that will elevate salt levels.
“A medium-sized dog should consume no more than 100 milligrams of sodium a day,” she says. “Although no one is counting, so it’s hard to know.”
If you’re looking for a healthy snack option to share with your dog, both Dr. Fox and Dr. White suggest plain cucumbers as an alternative.
They contain the same vitamins and minerals as pickles without the negative ingredients. As with any new food you introduce into your dog’s diet, start off slowly and always consult your veterinarian first.
Possible risks associated with pickles for dogs
Pickling is the centuries-old process of fermenting or preserving a food product using either salt or vinegar. The salty or acidic liquid prevents food spoilage by killing bacteria and can be used to pickle meats, beets, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and other foods. Unfortunately, pickling can pose some risks for dogs, depending on what the brine contains.
Potential side effects of pickles for dogs include:
Distilled white vinegar has no nutritional value for your dog. It can stress their kidneys and cause stomach upset and diarrhea.
Most pickling recipes contain an abundance of salt as a natural preservative. A teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 milligrams of sodium, and a medium pickle can contain as much as 700-1,500 milligrams of sodium.
The recommended daily sodium intake for dogs is 100 milligrams, so salt toxicity is a serious concern associated with pickle consumption.
Large amounts of sodium in the blood or insufficient water intake trigger dehydration when the muscles and tissues release fluids. Dogs with Addison’s disease may be particularly prone to salt poisoning due to an inability to regulate fluids and electrolytes.
Stiffness, difficulty walking, incoordination, tremors, and seizures may occur as a result. Salt can also cause high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks, so dogs with heart disease should especially steer clear.
Onions and garlic are also common pickling ingredients. These are from the allium family of root vegetables and include leeks, scallions, and chives. These vegetables contain N-propyl disulfide, an organic compound that damages your dog’s red blood cells and causes hemolytic anemia.
The organosulfur compound, found in allium plants, attaches itself to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in the blood, creating Heinz bodies.
These damaged red blood cells (Heinz bodies) die off more quickly than your dog’s body can replace them, leaving your dog with anemia. Signs of anemia include extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, and kidney damage. It’s a serious condition that requires immediate veterinary care.
Diabetes, obesity, and dental issues
Sweet pickles and bread-and-butter pickles contain a lot of sugar. One pickle can contain 7-30 grams! Sugar content varies by brand, so be sure to check the nutrition label.
Dogs with diabetes, kidney disease, or weight problems shouldn’t eat sugary sweet pickles. Eating too much sugar can also cause tooth decay and periodontal disease, which can leave your pup with all kinds of health problems.
Cloves and other common pickling spices in sweet pickles are okay for your dog if the sweet pickle is an occasional treat, or if they gobble up a dropped slice. However, some recipes include cinnamon and nutmeg, which contain myristicin.
Myristicin is toxic if consumed in large quantities. More often than not, the small amount found in pickle spices will not cause toxicity, but it could cause a stomach upset or worse if your dog reacts to the compound.
You can buy sugar-free pickles, but make sure they don’t include xylitol, an artificial sweetener that’s very toxic to canines, causing liver failure and death even in small amounts.
Do pickles have potential health benefits?
For people, pickles have several potential health benefits. They are high in vitamin K, which helps blood clot. They also contain nutrients such as potassium and calcium.
Are pickles good for dogs in the same way? Not exactly. Your dog gets those vitamins and minerals from their nutritionally complete and balanced dog food.
Dogs and pickles don’t exactly go together like peanut butter and jelly. Pickles are a crunchy, tasty treat that is low in calories and contains some vitamins and minerals that may provide dogs with some health benefits.
However, most vets agree that when it comes to pickles as a snack, any potential health benefits are far outweighed by the risks.
Can dogs have pickles? Pickles are, in general, just cucumbers that have been preserved in a saltwater brine with vinegar and spices.
Can dogs have cucumbers? While cucumbers are safe for dogs to consume, most pickles are extremely high in sodium, and some pickles contain ingredients that can be harmful to your pup, from the onions, garlic, and chili powder in hot-and-spicy pickles to the sugar and other spices in sweet bread-and-butter pickles.
The primary concern about feeding your dog pickles is their high sodium content. Since pickles are cucumbers soaked in saltwater brine and vinegar, they contain a lot of salt.
While the human body has adapted to handle the high salt content in pickles, dogs may experience health issues from ingesting so much salt.
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.
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 24-48 hours. 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)
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.