The fact that dogs have their own specially formulated food, mixed up by experts and sold to responsible owners in stores, does little to dissuade our pets from optimistically wanting to tuck into our treats too.
With that in mind, things that are often a bigger part of a human being’s diet than a dog’s end up in their mouths more often than not, but also gives plenty of us pause.
For instance, you might ask – can dogs eat pickles? They can, but they likely shouldn’t, is the short answer. Find out why below.
Are pickles good for dogs?
In a manner of speaking, dogs can eat pickles and gherkins, and there are some nutrients to be found in them.
They are, after all, naturally occurring foodstuffs – it’s just that we as people have chosen to package and store them in a certain way.
So for example, your dog might well gain a small number of vitamins and fiber from eating a pickle – but at the same time, you’re likely to find that your pet will gain these benefits from far superior sources with other choices of food.
That’s because, generally speaking, pickles and gherkins are not advised to be given to dogs.
They’re stored in jars that have pickles contained among brine, salty juices, vinegar and the like.
While all of these ingredients help to preserve pickles as much as add to their flavor as we enjoy them, there’s nothing good in this stuff for dogs.
You might fare better if you’re able to give pickles to your dog that comes without the juices – but as far as nutritional value goes, you’re better off sticking with something like a cucumber if you’re looking for the same kind of nutrients for your pet.
Having said that, there are no immediate dangers to giving dogs a pickle as an occasional, impulsive treat – or by passing the slices of pickle you might get in a hamburger order to your pup.
Suffice to say though, your dog would probably prefer a hamburger, not that that’s much good for them either!
In terms of pouring out the pickle juice found in the jar once you’ve eaten them all, don’t dish it up for your dog.
After all, this is where all the things that’ll affect your dog’s health the most adversely are found – you can’t even offset it with the fiber found in a pickle this time around.
If you spill some and your dog happens to lap up some pickle juice though, don’t despair – it’s just not advisable to hand this stuff over to them freely or make it a regular part of their diet.
Dangers of pickles for dogs
Luckily, pickles and gherkins are not inherently toxic to dogs, and the health warnings that come with giving them to your pooch are ones that have longer-term ramifications – you have nothing to fear if your dog gobbles down a slice of a pickle by accident once in a while.
However, pickles and gherkins have no real place in your dog’s diet, least of all served up whole.
The biggest danger in dogs eating pickles actually stems from how they’re prepared, and what they’re packaged with.
For example, any pickles that are stored alongside, seasoned with, or otherwise have their flavors affected by onions and garlic are absolutely off the menu.
Garlic and onions alike are very toxic to dogs, and even a small amount can cause surprisingly lasting harm.
There are nasty compounds and chemicals within that thin your dog’s blood and result in anemia, with rare yet all too real potentially fatal results.
However, even those pickles free from such ingredients have to be watched closely, especially if they’re served up whole.
A whole pickle is quite the conundrum even if your dog is a large breed with a strong set of jaws and teeth on his or her side.
Gherkins and pickles tend to be slippery, and it’s entirely possible that it could slide down your dog’s gullet and get stuck.
Aside from being a choking hazard, whole pickles can also obstruct the digestive passageways within your pet, so if you’re anticipating that your dog is going to be eating pickles, they’re best served up sliced.
Again though, there’s little nutritional value to giving pickles to your dog – many pooches find them a bit too tangy, sour and slimy to be enjoyable, and will chew pickle slices over a couple of times before just spitting them away.
Every dog is an individual though, but just be aware that pickles don’t need to have any place as a regular part of your dog’s diet.
How many pickles can a dog eat daily?
Ideally, dogs should not be eating pickles at all, let alone daily.
This is not because they are poisonous or dangerous in the immediate term, but rather that how we store and serve pickles is entirely too rich in sodium, vinegar and other long term harmful substances to do our pets any good.
The pickle juice especially is best kept from your dog and poured away down the sink once you’ve emptied the jar of the pickles themselves.
It’s here that the most harmful elements of how pickles are served up are found, at least as far as your pooch is concerned.
Despite this, it can be easily forgotten that dogs shouldn’t eat pickles and gherkins, not least since our pets are often so happy to gulp down whatever we give them.
Certainly don’t ever give your dog a whole pickle, however well they tend to demolish their food, as the choking hazard and sheer amount of nastiness they’ll be letting into their system just isn’t worth it.
While the occasional pickle piece that’s unwanted in a beef burger can be tossed to your pet, for example, it’s not something that’s advised to get into the habit of.
The build-up of sodium, salt and other nastiness in your dog’s digestive system can cause some unpleasant tummy upsets in the short to mid-term – and longer-term, worse health issues still.
That can include sluggishness, dehydration, weight gain and more, so it isn’t worth adding pickles to your dog’s diet when there are so many other treats and ways of adding vitamins and fiber to their diet that come without so many headaches and health risks to keep in mind.
What to do if your dog eats a pickle
While we dog owners can have the very best intentions for our pets, and can wisely research and organize what we can and can’t feed our dogs, our pets have other ideas.
Usually, those ideas revolve around how to get as many tasty snacks in the smallest amount of time, and that means that even the most loyal and obedient pups can try their luck.
As such, you might find that your dog has eaten a pickle that you dropped, or has even knocked a jar off the kitchen counter and eaten all of the pickles inside.
The good news is unless those pickles were specifically stored with onion and garlic, there’s no immediate danger. Nevertheless, this kind of thing can certainly make your dog ill.
Your dog will have eaten a lot of sodium and salty juices with even one whole pickle gulped down, so you might want to make sure you’re able to alleviate the upset stomach that could occur.
Your dog might get a bit gassy and grumbly, lounging around with a tummy ache and some weird gurgling noises. In very bad cases, your dog could throw up as well.
Despite the discomfort, he or she is not in any immediate danger, but you can definitely soothe the process with some fresh water, and maybe a handful of boiled rice to settle the stomach.
If the symptoms get any worse though, definitely look to your vet for advice and treatment.
They will be able to help nurse your dog back to health, as well as introduce medicines that will help rebalance the digestive system of your pet and hopefully cut off any harm before it has the chance to take hold.
While dogs theoretically can eat pickles without doing themselves any harm, it’s certainly not the kind of food that’s worth getting into the habit of dishing up to your pet.
The sodium content of the juices that pickles and gherkins are stored in is far and away above what dogs are recommended to have, and that means that any nourishment pickles themselves might hold – vitamins, minerals, and fibers – is overridden by those effects.
Consider other snacks for your dog, but don’t worry if your dog happens to gobble down a slice of pickle very rarely – there’s no immediate threat there.
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.