Pickles are perfect duos for snacks such as hot dogs, sandwiches, and hamburgers. They are crunchy, crispy, and have a salty-sour taste. Pickles are a healthy choice for snacking because they have specific vitamins, minerals, and small amounts of calories. But can dogs eat pickles? Are pickles good or bad for your dog? The answer is still a puzzle as it is difficult to say yes or no until you test it. Although pickles and other human treats such as whipped cream are not necessarily harmful, veterinarians do not often recommend pickles.
What Are Pickles?
Regular pickles are simply cucumbers preserved in a solution of salt-water, vinegar, and other spices. These additives are the root cause of the high sodium levels in pickles. Before sharing pickles with your pup, it is vital to identify the pickling process and the contents as there is no ordinary recipe that describes how pickles are made. They usually come in a diversity of flavors, with some hot and zestier than others. Therefore, some contain ingredients that could be harmful or unhealthy for your dog.
Types Of Pickles
There are varieties of pickles. The dill pickle is a cucumber drenched in brine (usually made from water, vinegar, and salt) and mixed with an antioxidant-rich fresh herb. This type of pickle is among the most popular choices today. Other pickles may be sweeter and offer different tastes but should not be fed to dogs. An example is the bread-and-butter pickles which are made with cucumbers, onions, brine, peppers, garlic, sugar, and spices.
Dr. Lincoln C of Veterinary Services in Oklahoma maintains that since onions and garlic are toxic to dogs, they could cause hemolytic anemia. The toxic ingredients in pickles could damage the red blood cells of your dog and even cause heart attack. Despite the minimal amounts of garlic or onions in these pickles, to be safe enough, Dr. Lincoln would still not recommend them.
Another type of pickles is the hot-and-spicy pickles. They are made with cucumber, brine, chili hot peppers, and other hot spices that can cause stomach upset. Your pup could suffer from gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea and nausea. Because most dogs are not familiar with eating zesty meals, having an upset stomach is always inevitable.
Are Pickles Safe For My Dog?
Hypertonic solutions of sodium salt are problematic for dogs having medical conditions. The dogs may encounter more health issues down the line. Dr. Lincoln maintains that consuming vast amounts of sodium within a short period could cause side effects such as diarrhea, loss of balance, seizures, vomiting, and excessive drinking.
Despite the adverse impacts that it may cause, sodium is a vital nutrient in the dog’s diet. Deficient levels of sodium pose risks to the normal functioning of the brain and the body. Therefore, a small amount is necessary for the maintenance of the dog’s homeostasis. The Association of American Feed Control Officials ( AAFCO ) recommends that for healthier growth, maintenance, and development in the dog’s body, commercial dry dog food should comprise at least 0.3 % sodium.
Dr. Lincoln advises that since your dog’s diet already has sodium in it, dog owners ought to be cautious of additional foods like sweet pickle that would indeed upraise the sodium levels and trigger health risks. He says that while it is difficult to count the amounts of sodium in the food, a medium-size dog should not consume more than 100 milligrams of sodium a day.
Feed Your Dog Plain Cucumbers For Health Benefits
Plain cucumbers contain the same minerals and vitamins as pickles without harmful ingredients. Dr. Lincoln suggests you use plain cucumbers as a healthy snack for your dog. In case you are introducing a portion of new food to your dog’s diet, you should always consult your veterinarian and start giving them the new food in small amounts to offer health benefits.
Always be cautioned not to give even pickle juices to your dog as most of them are spiced with herbs and contain high sodium contents that could harm your dog or increase the servers of any medical condition like high blood pressure.
However, dill and cucumbers are great for your dog, but pickles will have more of these ingredients. Therefore, before sharing sweet pickle or any human food with your dog, you must consult your veterinarian.
Why Are Pickle Products Bad For Dogs?
Many pickles like kosher dill pickles and bread and butter pickles include herbs like garlic and spices in their recipes. These may be harmful to your dog. Spicy or hot pickles are also big trouble for your dog as they can be toxic. However, plain dill pickles might be the only exception.
Even though the specific spices used to make the pickles are not toxic, they can still cause gastrointestinal issues for your dog. It is because your dog may not be used to those spices.
If your pickles purely contain plain brine, cucumbers, vinegar, and dill, it sounds safer for your dog, for the cucumbers are low-calorie snacks. On the other hand, dill always freshens your pup’s breath. A little bite will not be harmful to your dog.
To be safe, your dog should eat plain cucumbers but in moderation because your dog will have a loose stool after the hydrating and crunchy snack.
What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Pickles?
Do not panic when your furry friend eats a pickle. Identify the type of pickle eaten by your dog and contact your veterinarian for consultation. Your vet may ask you to take the dog to the clinic for diagnostics. It depends on the quantities and type of pickle or pickle juices your dog has eaten.
Always contact your local emergency veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 for help in case of an emergency. For example, when your dog eats many pickles that contain toxic substances like garlic, onions, or other herbs, be sure to seek emergency help. Although they will charge your call, it will be worth it since you would have saved your dog somehow. You will get advice on what action to take. If your ordinary vet is not available, you might have to take your dog to the nearest emergency clinic, especially if you suspect heart attack or other acute health risks.
Pickles are necessarily not harmful to your dogs, and they’re safe to use as occasional treats. What matters is the spices they may have. They can always be given as a snack for dogs but in moderate amounts. Pickles containing plain cucumbers, brine, fresh dill, and vinegar can be the best snack for your dog. You could also opt for a healthy treat for dogs or boiled chicken breasts to pumper your pet instead of feeding pickles.
Dr. Belinda Hawks earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 2006 and has been practicing veterinary medicine since then. Dr. Belinda currently works as a passionate rancher and mixed animal veterinarian in a rural town in South Carolina. When not practicing veterinary medicine or writing, she spends her free time with her lovely husband and three kids (2 boys and a lovely girl) in South Carolina.