A nice, crisp pickle is the perfect pairing for a sandwich or a greasy burger.
But what makes pickles so great?
They have a satisfying crunch, a salty sour taste, and they’re low in calories!
You love them, but what about your dog?
Can dogs eat pickles?
While this may seem like a simple question, there are several factors to consider.
First, are cucumbers safe for dogs?
Second, is dill safe for dogs?
You have to answer both of these questions in order to determine whether it is safe to feed your dog pickles or not.
The short answer?
Yes, both cucumbers and dill are safe for dogs.
However, pickles are high in sodium and certain types of pickle may contain spices that are toxic for dogs.
Let’s take a closer look:
What Are Pickles, Anyway?
Pickles get their name from the fact that they are pickled cucumbers.
But how does pickling work?
Essentially, you soak cucumbers in brine (a saltwater solution) with vinegar and assorted spices. The type of pickle you end up with depends on the type of spices you soak it in.
- Dill pickles, for example, are made by pickling cucumbers in brine with vinegar and dill.
- Hot pickles are typically made with brine, vinegar, and some kind of chili pepper.
- Garlic pickles are made with brine, vinegar, and garlic.
- Bread and butter pickles are usually made with brine, vinegar, onions, and peppers.
Do you see now why there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “Are pickles safe for dogs?”
To answer this question more accurately, some are and some are not.
Which pickles are safe for dogs?
For the most part, dill pickles are technically safe for dogs as long as they are made simply with cucumber, brine, vinegar, and dill. Some dill pickles are made with peppercorns and other spices, however, so you need to be careful – make sure you don’t give your dog pickles that contain any potentially toxic ingredients.
What about hot pickles or bread and butter pickles?
Both of these pickle varieties are going to be problematic for your dog.
Hot pickles are dangerous because they are made with hot peppers. While some hot peppers may not be toxic for dogs, dogs are not used to eating spicy foods so they are likely to experience some digestive upset after eating hot peppers.
Bread and butter pickles are dangerous because they often contain onions and garlic pickles are bad because they are made with garlic. Onions and garlic belong to the same taxonomical family and the foods in this family are toxic for dogs because they contain N-propyl disulfide, a compound that damages the blood cells and causes anemia in dogs.
Never feed your dog any foods that contain onions, garlic, other foods in the onion family!
Okay, so hot pickles, garlic pickles, and bread and butter pickles are bad for dogs.
Now, let’s take a closer look at dill pickles:
What Are the Health Benefits of Dill Pickles for Dogs?
In order to determine the health benefits of dill pickles for dogs, you need to break them down into their main ingredients:
Cucumber is a low-calorie, crunchy snack that many dogs enjoy. In addition to being low in calories, cucumber is high in both moisture and fiber which will benefit your dog’s digestion. When it comes to nutrients, however, cucumbers don’t have a lot to offer.
If you choose to feed your dog cucumbers, you should limit it to a few slices a day because too much fiber can cause digestive upset.
Now, what about dill?
Dill (Anethum graveolena) is a type of fresh herb that is commonly used in salads and sauces (think tzatziki sauce). It is a member of the parsley family and, as such, is safe for dogs. Dill acts as a digestive aid for dogs, soothing stomach upset and relieving gas, nausea, and cramps. It can also freshen your dog’s breath and offers antioxidant benefits to protect against free-radical damage.
Dogs can eat fresh dill as well as dill seed in small amounts.
Let’s move on to salt.
Sodium is an important nutrient in your dog’s diet, but only in small amounts. In fact, too much salt in your dog’s diet could poison him. For a small dog weighing 30 pounds, the maximum recommended sodium intake is 100mg. Too much sodium could contribute to dehydration in dogs and it could put excess strain on his kidneys and circulatory system. It may even cause vomiting, diarrhea, or seizures.
If your dog develops any of these symptoms after consuming salt, take him to the vet immediately.
And now, water.
It should go without saying that water is safe for your dog. In fact, it is an extremely important part of his diet. Not only does it keep his body hydrated, but it plays an essential role in healthy and regular digestion. Your dog should have unlimited access to fresh water at all times.
Vinegar comes in many different forms but the type used to make pickles is typically distilled white vinegar. Simply put, distilled white vinegar doesn’t have much to offer your dog in terms of nutrition – it is more commonly used in homemade cleaning products. Apple cider vinegar, on the other hand, is highly beneficial for dogs.
Now, let’s put it all together:
Cucumbers are good.
Dill is good.
Water is good.
Vinegar is not bad, but not particularly good.
Salt is okay, but only in small amounts.
So, should you feed your dog pickles? Probably not.
Dill pickles may not be harmful, but there is really no good reason to feed them to your dog. In fact, the risks greatly outweigh the benefits.
The only time you should feed your dog pickles is if you are sure they do not contain any harmful ingredients. Even then, you’d be better off just feeding your dog cucumbers and fresh dill.
It’s not worth the risk!