Can dogs have pickles? Yes, they can – but probably shouldn’t. If you’re like me, your dog is your best friend and enjoys doing just about everything with you. Napping, taking car rides, going on walks and even eating with you. You may wonder which human foods are safe for your dog to eat and which ones aren’t.
Being sour and salty, pickles seem like an unlikely food to be enjoyed by your canine companion. Strangely enough though, most dogs do enjoy pickles. But are they okay for a dog to eat? The answer is yes, but like most human foods, pickles should only be shared with your dog in moderation.
What Are Pickles?
The most basic definition of a pickle is a vegetable made sour by soaking it in salt and vinegar. Most of what people commonly call pickles are cucumbers that have been brined and acidified. Pickled cucumbers can range in size from very small to very large and can be bought by the jar in most grocery stores. Once pickled, the cucumbers lose most of what was good about them.
The Dangers of Dogs Eating Pickles
Eaten in moderation, pickles can be an excellent source of antioxidants and minerals as well as providing dietary fiber. Despite these positive nutritional advantages of pickles, they also come with some dietary risks. Listed below are some of the dangers of eating too many pickles.
- Digestive Upset
- High Blood Pressure
- Increased Kidney Workload
Consuming too much of any food would be bad for your dog, but given the amount of acid and sodium contained in pickles, they can be extra irritating to your dog’s stomach. Pickles are listed as a high risk food for diarrhea and can cause both flatulence and abdominal pain as well.
The high salt content of pickles puts your dog at risk of bloating. This is because sodium causes our bodies to retain extra water in an effort to maintain the correct balance of sodium and fluid. As the sodium level goes up, the body begins to retain extra water. Such bloating and water retention can cause uncomfortable swelling, particularly in the limbs.
Though you typically don’t think about high blood pressure in dogs, the large amount of sodium in pickles can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. Though this should level out once the sodium has been purged from the system (typically through urination) spikes like this should be avoided whenever possible.
The main function of the kidneys is to act like a filter for your blood. As mentioned, the high salt content of pickles causes the body to retain water. In an effort to rid the body of both the extra water and the sodium, the kidneys must work extra hard to regain a harmonious balance. This can be especially dangerous in older dogs and dogs who have a history of kidney problems or disease.
The Best Way To Feed Your Dog Pickles
In truth, there really is no good reason to feed your dog pickles other than just wanting to share your favorite snack. The only real benefit your canine friend will reap from eating pickles is a slight boost in dietary fiber.
If you want to feed your dog pickles, the best way to do so would be as an occasional treat. Small pickles and pickle slices are the best choice, as they allow you to feed your dog pickles with less exposure to the high acid and sodium they contain. Make sure you drain off any acidic pickle juice before giving your dog any.
If your dog is older or suffers from health problems, you might want to skip the pickles altogether and opt for a healthier, lower sodium option. For a healthy dog, an occasional pickle should do no harm though. Keep the pickle treats in moderation and avoid giving them to your dog in addition to a food that is already high in sodium. If your dog shows signs of abdominal discomfort, diarrhea or bloating, discontinue the use of pickles as a treat and choose lower sodium yet high fiber options such as small carrots instead.
It’s hard to say no to your faithful fur ball when he’s eyeing what’s on your plate versus the kibble in his bowl and clearly finding his own lunch less appetizing than yours. If you’ve ever found yourself asking, can dogs have pickles? Yes they can. Pickles, when given in moderation, can be a tasty treat that makes him feel special. Like all human foods though, the rule of thumb is to give very little and not often.
Just For fun
The relationship between dog and pickle can be bitter-sweet: