Researching what your dog can or can’t eat is an unavoidable part of the dog-owner experience.
It may be those big, soulful eyes just begging for a scrap of what you’re eating, a well-intentioned family member feeding their scraps to the dog under the table or maybe a dog’s uncanny ability for finding edible (and not so edible) things in completely random places, even after you’ve checked several times to make sure there’s nothing they can eat.
Whatever the reason, you’ll often find yourself googling “can my dog eat X” thing while crossing your fingers and hoping the answer is yes, and today, you find yourself wondering if your dog can eat pickles.
Unlike with other foods, though, the answer isn’t a clear-cut yes or no. Pickles come in many presentations and some of them are more harmful than others to dear Fido:
Regular pickles won’t kill your dog and, by themselves, they don’t represent a huge risk to their health, but you should avoid using them as a treat or giving them to your dog regularly.
While delicious, pickles are packed with sodium (after all, that’s what pickling is all about.) and unless your dog is on some kind of low-sodium food, chances are what you’re already feeding yours is more than enough to satisfy their sodium needs.
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Because of this, making pickles a regular part of your dog’s diet can lead to severe health issues.
A dog that eats an excess of salt can experience things such as seizures, convulsions, kidney disease, and heart attacks.
Before you rush out to buy low-sodium food, remember, regular dog food provides your dog the ideal sodium quantity, so avoiding high-sodium treats like pickles is far easier, and more cost-efficient, than buying your dog specialty food just so that they can enjoy their pickles.
Pickles Cooked with Onions
Any dog owner out there knows that onions are a huge no-no for dogs, and things cooked with onions are no different.
Onions and anything that has been cooked with them can damage the hemoglobin found inside your dog’s red blood cells irreparably, a condition called Heinz anemia (also known as hemolytic anemia) that can seriously reduce your dog’s life quality.
Heinz anemia can lead to loss of appetite, weakness, collapse, heart murmurs, enlarged liver, and unless your dog receives prompt and expensive medical attention, death.
Heinz anemia can also be caused by Fava beans, oak, turnips, garlic, red maple, and kale, so if your pickles were cooked with any of those things, they’re just as dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
If your dog got outsmarted you (don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.) and stole a couple, they’ll be fine. But make sure to call the vet if they ate more than that.
Dill pickles are also known as “kosher dill pickles” which leads people to (wrongly) assume they’re healthier than regular pickles and, thus, better for their dogs.
The “kosher” part actually comes from the way Jewish New York pickle makers make pickles, and that involves the generous use of dill, salt, and garlic.
While it’s true that dill has been reported to have some beneficial properties for digestion, dill pickles still have garlic and as previously mentioned, garlic can be deathly to dogs, as its consumption can lead to a condition named Heinz anemia.
If you’ve made home-made dill pickles and skipped the garlic altogether, those pickles still have the same issues as regular pickles, which means they’re high in sodium and can be bad for your dogs if eaten regularly.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s digestion and want to give them dill, it’s better if you just give them the dill directly and skip the whole pickle part altogether; That said, there are better options out there, like baby carrots, some types of yogurt, salmon, pumpkin and cooked chicken, to name a few.
With that in mind, it’s always better to consult with your vet before giving your dog any home remedies, as some natural remedies can be a little too effective and give your dog diarrhea, which is no one’s idea of fun.
Can Dogs Eat Pickles? Should They?
If your dog stole a pickle or two from you, relax and put down the phone. There’s no need to call your vet just yet. Chances are your dog will be just fine.
However, don’t take this as an OK to feed your dog pickles on the regular. Ideally, pickles should be avoided at all times and not be given as a reward of any kind, no matter how much your dog begs you to.
Remember, pickles won’t outright kill your dog, but they can lead to serious diseases that will.
If you choose to ignore our advice and feed pickles to your dog regardless of all the warnings, do it rarely and always make sure they’re regular pickles. Avoid anything that has onion or garlic in them: Fancy pickles may be tastier for you, but they carry a higher risk of killing your dog if you include them in their diet.
And if your dog somehow managed to eat an entire jar of pickles? Then take them to the vet immediately, as the high amount of salt found in the pickles and the pickle juice can lead to salt poisoning, which at the very least will cause severely painful cramps to your dog and can easily lead to death if left untreated.
Don’t feed your dog pickles.
One or two won’t hurt them, but giving your dog pickles regularly can lead to kidney disease and death, amongst other things, so it’s better to play it safe and not get in the habit of giving your dog pickles just because they like them.
We know it’s hard to resist those big eyes, particularly when your dog does a trick in an attempt to convince you to share your food, but saying no is best.
- Alexandra Anastasio, Can Dogs Eat Pickles?, The American Kennel Club