Yesterday, I was enjoying a lazy Sunday lunch when all my daydreams came crashing down as my German shepherd puppy reached for the pickled cucumbers. In a move reminiscent of Jackie Chan, I flung my body to stop the puppy from eating the pickle, but before my burger-addled body hit the ground, Bruno (my German shepherd puppy) was munching away happily. In a panic, I called my vet to ask, can dogs eat pickles?
To my intense relief, my vet assured me that eating one pickle wouldn’t harm my puppy. The vet further explained that pickles are not too harmful to dogs, but she advises against feeding pickles to dogs frequently.
Simply put, we can say that if your dog eats a pickle or two, it is not going to kill your pup or, for that matter, have any catastrophic effect on it. However, do not give them pickles regularly as a part of their meal.
If you are a dog owner like me, you may find yourself searching for what your dog can or cannot eat a little too often. So, if you are here today searching whether or not you can feed your mischievous pet some pickles, then you are in for a strange answer to that is Yes, but not often.
Keep reading the article to know what pickles are, why they are not a good treat for your dog, and what possible risks they may carry.
What Are Pickles?
Before addressing the question of can dogs eat pickles, we would like to tell you what pickles are.
Tangy and crispy with a hint of salt, pickles are everyone’s favorite. They are the perfect side with almost any food, Whether hot dogs, sandwiches, or hamburgers.
Cucumbers soaked in vinegar and spices are most commonly referred to as pickles, but any vegetable soaked in vinegar along with salt and spices like coriander seeds, dill, or peppercorn can be called a pickle. Other than cucumbers, people mostly pickle vegetables like cauliflower, beets, and carrots.
Do Pickles Contain Healthy Nutrients?
Most pickles have a higher percentage of fiber and are lower in fats and calories. Pickles contain some carbohydrates and some protein as well. A normal-sized pickled carries no more than 4 Kcal, which makes them a great low-calorie snack.
Other than that, dill pickles are the herbs that are frequently used in a pickle as an aromatic, and it is loaded with antioxidants that help in restoring damaged cells. Moreover, dill has a good amount of minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B6 as well as calcium.
As long as cucumbers are concerned, they too are full of minerals and vitamins, but the problem arises because of the high sodium present in pickles.
Each pickle has almost 283 mg of salt. This makes about 20% of the daily dietary need of a fully grown human. As far as dogs are concerned, most veterinarians recommend not to give your dog’s more than 100 mg sodium in a day. So, pickling the vegetable kind of ruins the benefits the vegetables can offer otherwise.
Some people think fermented pickles do carry some health benefits after all, as the fermentation bacteria known as probiotics are thought to be good for the gut balance. Unfortunately, there are two problems with it, firstly not all pickles are fermented, and secondly, dogs have a very different digestive system than humans, and they probably won’t benefit from probiotics as much as humans do.
On top of all that, people claim that pickles are healthy because they are dipped in vinegar, which is beneficial to health, but most of those health benefits are in apple cider vinegar or organic vinegar. However, most commercial pickles are made in white vinegar, which has no known health benefits.
Pickles are a good probiotic for humans. Moreover, you can eat lots of pickles without having your calorie count skyrocket. They also contain several vitamins and useful nutrients as well as minerals. However, all these things make pickles a good fit for humans; what about your canine buddies? Can dogs eat pickles?
Not so much, feeding all these nutritious vegetables to your dog slathered in sodium as pickles is not a good idea. It is much better if you feed them all these veggies fresh and raw to help them get maximum nutrition.
How Can Pickles be Harmful to Your Dog?
As said earlier, the vegetables used for pickling are an excellent choice to feed a dog, both frozen and fresh. However, after pickling, they become substantially high in sodium which can lead to several health problems in dogs like high blood pressure, eventually causing a heart attack or stroke.
Moreover, consuming huge amounts of sodium in a short period can cause diarrhea, excessive drinking, seizures, and loss of balance in dogs. If your dog starts showing any of these signs, you should go see a veterinarian immediately.
Pickles are especially harmful to dogs with high blood pressure, heart conditions, or any health conditions related to sodium. However, it is not a good idea to feed pickles to your otherwise healthy dogs as well because of the spices and condiments in pickles.
Moreover, vegetables from the allium family that is often used in pickles can cause Heinz anemia which causes results in heart murmurs, collapse, weakness, and sometimes death if not treated immediately.
Pickles generally have strong vinegar, spices along with other ingredients you may not know about sometimes, which makes it harder to know whether or not the pickle is safe for your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Pickled Onions?
Onion pickles are my favorite side dish with Indian food and even with some sandwiches, wraps, and burgers. However, onions are hazardous for your pup’s health. Onions and garlic can severely damage the red blood cells of dogs, thus leading to anemia.
The reason onions are toxic for dogs is because they help in the formation of Heinz bodies. While they may remind you of a famous ketchup brand that is indeed finger-licking delicious, do not get fooled. These Heinz bodies are not appetizing at all.
Heinz bodies are the clumps of hemoglobin (yes, the same thing that is responsible for carrying oxygen), and these are made when dogs eat onions. Hence, they stop doing their function properly, which leads to red blood cells dying quickly. So, the rapid death of red blood cells leads to Hemolytic anemia.
There has been thorough research on hemolytic anemia induced by onions, and it is a piece of good news that it is usually not fatal. However, it can be lethal if you regularly keep feeding your dog onions for years. Still, it is advised not to feed your dog’s onions because anemia may not take your pet’s life but would cause them discomfort, poor appetite, fatigue, and exercise intolerance.
So, if you ask, can dogs eat pickled onions? Our answer would be a STRONG NO.
Caution: As long as anemia is concerned, it is better to not feed your dog any food that belongs to the allium family. These are the vegetables that have organosulfur compounds that tend to oxidize. Leeks, shallots, scallions, chives, and garlic are a few vegetables that belong to this allium family.
People often use pickles that have garlic. Although garlic is not as likely to cause anemia in dogs as other vegetables from its family, it is better to control the portion of garlic you feed to your dog.
Some other vegetables that can cause Heinz anemia are oak, fava beans, kale, and red maple. So, if you have pickles that have any of these things, do not feed them to your dog.
The thing is, dogs are smart, and they often find things to eat at places we never imagined they would. If something like this happens and your canine friend ends up stealing a pickle or two, then do not worry. But if you suspect they ate a large amount, then contact your vet for further advice.
Can Dogs Eat Gherkins?
Well, so far, we have discussed that cucumbers on their own are healthy as they are low fat and low-calorie snack which fit the dietary needs of a dog. However, they are mostly water and have no taste of their own, and usually, lots of salt or sugar is added to make them taste good.
Gherkins are also called sweet pickles, and as the name suggests, to make them taste that way, loads of sugar are added to them. The amount of sugar a pickle would have varies from brand to brand. A rough estimate is it can start from 7 grams and go as high as 28-30 grams of sugar.
So, can dogs eat gherkins? Yes, they can eat one or two gherkins without damaging their health, but they should not eat gherkins regularly.
We all know sugar is ill-advised for dogs, as it can cause weight gain, cavities, and diabetes. To make it simple, think of it this way that sugar is as harmful to your furry friend as it is for us humans. So, you need to read the ingredients closely and check how much sugar the gherkins contain. Try to buy the one with the least additive sugar.
Some brands claim to sell sugar-free products that usually contain some sugar replacement. It is noticeable that these varieties often have xylitol. It is an artificial sweetener that is harmful to dogs, so it is better to steer clear of such products.
Can Dogs Eat Pickle Juice?
Since pickle juice is mostly vinegar and we have all heard nutritionists rave about the health benefits of vinegar, it only makes sense that you would like to share some of the benefits with your dog. However, you shouldn’t.
Just like pickles, pickle juice is not beneficial for your dog’s health.
Although, the only thing wrong with that is pickles are not made in apple cider vinegar that carries health benefits. Usually, pickles are made using white vinegar that is not popular among doctors and health enthusiasts. Moreover, whether white or organic, vinegar is not recommended for a dog.
Vinegar is likely to disturb the natural pH balance of a dog’s skin, and spraying vinegar might also ruin the softness and shine of the coat. So, it is not suitable even for the outer skin, let alone as a part of the diet.
It is noteworthy that vinegar is acidic can it can cause pH imbalance inside the body of dogs as well. This may result in diarrhea and an upset stomach in dogs. You have to be even more careful if your dog is a senior dog as the acid can stress kidneys as well. In older dogs, the reason it is more dangerous is that their kidneys might not be able to process the acid-like they could in the past.
Can My Dog Be Allergic to Pickles?
A dog can pretty much be intolerant or allergic to any food or food category as a whole, but it is rarely the case with pickles. However, because of the high sodium levels in regular pickles and too much sugar in sweet pickles, it is suggested not to feed these to your senior canine companion.
Other than that, the dogs who have kidney problems or renal failure should not be given pickles as they have a higher risk of getting salt poisoning in case of eating too many pickles.
What Are the Best Alternatives for Pickles?
If you want to share a part of the food on your plate with your dog, then try to pick something healthy. As your pup will be standing by your side asking for a slack whenever you eat something. So here are some of the best alternatives:
So, Can Dogs Eat Pickles?
Although there is no lasting damage if your dog eats a pickle one in a blue moon, you shouldn’t feed your dog pickles regularly.
Feeding your dog pickles might not be a good idea because of the ingredients used to make pickles. It includes both the vegetables like onions, garlic, and leeks or the spices added to make pickles taste good.
You do not have to worry if your pet accidentally eats a slice or two of pickled cucumbers or gherkins, but pickles for sure do not make for a good dog meal. If you have any queries regarding this topic, feel free to leave a comment below.