A big part of Mediterranean dining, olives are tasty and rich. They add a certain something to any dish they’re put into, and the fact some cocktails perch them on a stick in your glass shows how stylish they can be too.
With them being so versatile, chances are your pooch is going to come across them every so often, but are they safe? Can dogs eat olives? Let’s find out.
Are olives good for dogs?
Yes, olives are indeed good for dogs if they’re served up with the appropriate degree of moderation – after all, they wouldn’t naturally occur in your dog’s diet if we as human beings were not introducing our pets to them.
Yet they, fortunately, contain nothing toxic or harmful, but neither any particular richness of nutrients that a pooch with a healthy and balanced diet is able to find elsewhere in their meals.
Dogs and humans have very different dietary requirements, and source their nutrition from what they eat in very different ways.
That means a lot of what dogs eat is simply no good for us, and likewise much of what human beings prefer to consume has next to nothing valuable to offer to your pet.
Nevertheless, this kind of dynamic also means that dogs can get a powerful extra bonus amount of vitamins and minerals from foods that human beings would need to eat a fairly larger comparative amount to gain.
Olives are a good example here – just one or two of these, if nice and fresh, can offer some good health benefits to your dog.
The vitamins in olives can add nicely to your dog’s overall energy levels and vitality. You’ll notice, as you increase your dog’s vitamin intake, that their fur coat gets a lot shinier and refreshed – your pooch will have a spring in his or her step, and a gleaming wet healthy nose too.
If your dog has been unwell or you’re looking to boost his or her immunity, increasing his or her vitamin levels is a good way to keep them healthy and happy – and feeding your dog olives can be beneficial here.
Of course, keep moderation in mind when dishing up olives to your dog, as you needn’t hand over many at all to see these benefits – even one, every so often, will do your pet the power of good.
Dogs are far more susceptible to excess calories than human beings are, so overeating olives, even with their health benefits, can actually contribute to weight gain over the long term.
The same is often true of other fruit and vegetables, and this is because dogs simply aren’t as biologically equipped to break these down during the digestion process as our own bodies are.
Too many olives might also give your dog indigestion, so definitely take care not to overdo it.
Dangers of olives for dogs
While there are certainly health benefits to feeding your dog some olives, there are also complications that come with these Mediterranean treats that make them not altogether a popular treat to give your pet regularly.
Part of this is to do with the makeup of the plant and its fruit itself, and part of that is due to how olives are sold, marketed and served for human consumption.
Speaking on the point of the olive itself first, it’s worth noting that the pit of an olive is considered by most experts as very unsafe or dogs to eat.
Even larger breeds or those enthusiastic eaters among our pets who seem capable of demolishing everything we serve them ought to not eat pitted olives.
While dogs can eat both green olives and black olives, the pits are a no go.
They’re too much of a choking hazard to be responsibly served up, and can also cause blockages further down the line as well.
Blockages within the digestive tract especially are quite nasty, and can cause severe complications for your animal that will need the care of a vet to overcome.
In especially bad cases, pits from olives can even harm the teeth of your dog, or crack them outright.
Dogs with poor dental hygiene, or who are in their elder years, are especially susceptible to this – as are puppies whose teeth are still in their developmental phase.
However, other dangers of feeding dogs olives come from their method of being stored.
For example, while fresh olives are fair game for your dog to eat, those stored in jars or otherwise mixed in with other ingredients are a more thorny issue.
This is especially the case if your olives have in any way been stored, mixed in with or otherwise are served up alongside onions or garlic – both feature heavily in Mediterranean meals, and both are unfortunately highly toxic to your dog.
Even without garlic and onions being an issue, many olives are bought from the store in jars whose juices are high in salt, sodium and additives.
These are all pretty nasty for your dog’s long term health, with salt especially being something that dog’s bodies process poorly and ought to avoid.
Wherever possible, serve only fresh olives to your dog, rather than any from a jar.
How many olives can a dog eat daily?
Although human beings are recommended to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, the same is not true of dogs.
They are able to do a lot more with a lot less when it comes to these all-natural ingredients, and experts often advise that these kinds of treats be supplements to meals at most, or ideally very occasional treats meant to bolster your dog’s defences against illness and the like.
As much as an olive or two a day is more than enough for your pet, and any more than this – however gratefully the olives get gulped down by your pet – is likely overdoing it.
Remember, even though we are very conscious of the health benefits of things like olives, for dogs they have a higher degree of difficulty to digest, and also present them with far more calories than we often imagine.
While the idea of fattening up Fido via fruit and vegetables might sound ridiculous to some new dog owners, experienced pet owners know it’s all too easy to overdo it.
Even larger and more robust dogs can fall prey to this thinking, and dogs themselves certainly don’t know their own limits.
When introducing anything new to your dog’s diet, it’s often wise to go slow and steady. Let your dog sniff at an olive held in your outstretched hand, and make sure the pit has been removed.
It’s possible that he or she might lick at the olive a few times and decide it’s just not for them – some dogs can be fussy eaters, after all.
What to do if your dog eats olives
No matter how careful, considerate and compassionate the owner, our dogs just can’t help but make some mischief from time to time.
Chances are, you have caught your pooch in the act of eating something he or she should not on more than one occasion.
If your dog is eating olives, there are a couple of things to check for immediately to assure if he or she is safe.
The first of these is whether the olives were stored in anything flavoured with onions or garlic, or having those ingredients as part of the juices in the jar.
If so, seek the help and advice of your vet – both onions and garlic are seriously toxic to dogs.
Secondly, identify if your dog is eating olives that still have their pits in – this is especially a concern if your dog is eating olives right off the plant outside.
The pits are more than just a rough and rugged little nuisance – they can crack your dog’s teeth, or even cause blockages that lead to choking or strong cases of indigestion.
If all is well, it’s likely your dog is not going to suffer any ill effects of eating too many olives, unless he or she is doing so every day – at which point weight gain and constant tummy troubles could well ensue.
Even as a one-off though, you’re likely to find that your dog has a tummy ache from eating too many olives at once, so keep some refreshing water close at hand.
Watch out for vomiting and constipation, but don’t worry – your dog isn’t in any immediate danger, but is certainly not feeling great.
Both ripe green olives and black olives are safe for dogs to eat, although they’re best given to your dog quite sparingly.
Also always ensure that they haven’t been mixed with onion and garlic, and avoid giving your dog olives from a jar full of salty juices or other additives.
Fresh, clean olives with their pits removed are your best bet, although there are other ways of getting vitamins and minerals into your pet’s diet too.