Can Dogs Eat Olives? Are Olives Safe for Dogs?

Olives are a tasty addition to salads, bread, and pizzas, but are they safe for your pooch to eat? In moderation, olives are a perfectly safe snack for your dog. Olives are non-toxic and have beneficial nutrients, but these nutrients can easily be found elsewhere in larger and more easily accessible quantities. In this article, we’ll take a look at the potential benefits and harms of feeding olives to your dog.

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Olives 101

Olives grow on small trees and are actually a fruit, belonging to a family of fruits known as drupes or stone fruits. These include mangoes, cherries, and peaches, and they contain one large single seed. Some olives turn black as they ripen, while others remain green even when fully ripe. Olives are widely used around the world in a variety of foods, but most olives grown are used to make olive oil.

Raw and fresh olives are almost inedible due to their bitterness and must be fermented and cured in order to make them palatable. This process removes the bitter compound oleuropein and brings out the flavor that we all know and love. This process can take as little as a few days to a few months, but it is certainly worth the wait!

olives
Image credit: Peter H, Pixabay

Nutritional benefits of olives

Just one or two small olives is enough to offer health benefits for your dog. Too much of anything is bad, and olives are no different.

However, in moderation, the potential health benefits of olives include:

  • Olives are a great source of several vitamins. Vitamin A can help support vision and bone health in your pooch, and vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can aid in your dog’s immune function.
  • Olives contain high amounts of calcium, which is essential for bone formation and growth, and iron, which helps the synthesis of blood cells.
  • Olives contain a small amount of protein that can aid in muscle growth and maintenance.

Of course, all these benefits can be obtained from other healthier sources, without the associated health risks of feeding too many olives to your dog.

Health risks of olives

The main risk in feeding olives to your dog is in the pits. These can potentially damage your dog teeth, cause choking or airway obstruction in smaller breeds, and even get lodged in their intestinal tract.

Even pitted olives have risks, as they are often preserved with a large amount of salt. Excessive amounts of sodium can cause health issues for your dog, including dehydration and vomiting. Many olives are preserved in a mixture of other potentially harmful ingredients too, including garlic, which can be harmful in excess, and onions, which are toxic to dogs.

sick jack russell
Image credit: Javier Brosch, Shutterstock

What about olive oil?

Olive oil is a great addition to your pet’s diet in moderation, as it carries none of the associated health risks of whole olives yet has all the benefits. Olive oil contains omega fatty acids and vitamin E, both of which are great for the health of your dog’s skin and coat, and the monosaturated fats can help overweight dogs lose weight.

Of course, everything should be in moderation, and depending on your dog’s size, a teaspoon or tablespoon once a week is sufficient. Always go for extra virgin olive oil, as it has a reduced acid content. That being said, it goes rancid faster than other types, so be sure to store it correctly.

Olives fresh
Image credit: Tama66, Pixabay

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Conclusion

If your dog eats an olive by mistake, there is likely no reason to rush off to the vet; just make sure they haven’t mistakenly swallowed any pits. Giving your dog the odd olive here and there won’t do any harm and can even have health benefits. That being said, all the benefits gained from olives can easily be found in other widely available sources.


Featured Image Credit: LunarSeaArt, Pixabay