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Jar of pickled cucumbers

The essentials

  • Pickles and cucumbers are not the same thing — Pickles are made from cucumbers, but when it comes to what is safe for dogs, it’s important to make the distinction, as pickles can contain harmful spices.
  • Pickles are generally unhealthy for pups — Pickles aren’t void of nutrition, but they have a high sodium content, and certain varieties can have garlic and onion which are toxic ingredients for your puppy.
  • It’s rare for pickle ingestion to cause an emergency — Small amounts won’t hurt your dog, although it may upset their stomach. Unless your dog eats the whole jar, pickles are not usually a cause for an emergency veterinarian visit.

What’s nutritious for people and what’s nutritious for a dog don’t always align, and it can be difficult to know what’s okay for your pup. Dogs are often interested in human foods, and some pup parents may want to pass a few scraps to their four-legged-friend. Other times dogs sneak something they shouldn’t have, and leave pup parents worrying about how it will affect them.

Whether you’re wondering if it’s okay to pass the relish to your pup or your dog went for some dill, spicy, or sweet pickles on their own, let’s answer the question: Can dogs eat pickles?

Are pickles safe for dogs to eat?

Technically pickles in small amounts are non-toxic for dogs, but it’s still not a good idea to let your dog eat them. We all want to feed our dogs well and be mindful about any spices or ingredients that won’t sit well with our pups. The problem with pickles is that they contain ingredients like garlic, onion, chili powder, and mustard seed.

Some herbs and spices are good for your dog, but typically the ones found in pickles are not. Garlic, onion, and mustard seed are toxic, while chili powder can be too harsh for your dog’s stomach. One of the biggest issues is the high salt content in pickles. Dogs generally get the necessary amount of sodium from dog food, and high amounts of salt are so dangerous for dogs it can even be fatal.

👉 Dill contains nutritional benefits for dogs, but shouldn’t be given in pickle form. To reap the benefits of dill, add some of the fresh herb to your dog’s food. 

Types of pickles

Dill pickles. Even the most basic recipe, like brine, vinegar and dill, is still problematic for pups because of the salt content. Pet owners who are really bent on giving their pup fresh pickles could make a batch without salt (although it wouldn’t be much of a pickle!) Still, fresh cucumbers are a much safer option.

Bread and butter. Other options like bread and butter pickles contain both salt and sugar, neither of which are healthy for your pup in large amounts. Most bread and butter recipes call for mustard seeds, another ingredient you’d have to omit to make it dog friendly.

Sweet pickles. There are many variations of sweet pickles, but almost all of them call for onion, mustard seed, or both. And, of course, they’ll need a fair amount of sugar to make them sweet, making homemade sweet pickles a less than ideal choice for pups.

Spicy pickles. Spicy pickles still contain at least one problematic ingredient like salt, mustard seed or garlic. Beyond that, ingredients like jalapeno and red peppers or hot spices like chili pepper will likely give your pup an upset stomach.

Cucumbers: a safer alternative to pickles

Opt for the raw ingredient in pickles if your dog has a hankering for crunchy vegetables. Cucumbers are safe for dogs and offer some health benefits. If you’d like to rotate in a refreshing snack, slices of cucumber are a good option. Not only are they a low-calorie snack, they’re also high in water, fiber, and vitamin C, and pose no risk to your dog’s health.

Put simply, pickles are just cucumbers that have been preserved in salt-water brine, vinegar, and spices. Some dog owners may wonder if homemade pickles are a good option for pups since they may cut down on some of the harmful ingredients. However, it would be difficult to make any type of proper pickle without any potentially harmful additives or seasonings.

Other safe snacks for dogs

In the end, there’s really no good reason to give your dog pickles, since the risks outweigh any potential health benefits. There are plenty of other crunchy vegetables that are better options to give your pup to snack on, including plain cucumbers.

Next time you and your pup are out in the garden, feel free to toss your dog a few fresh green beans or a zucchini, both of which are safe and nutritious for canines.

If you’re whipping up a few things in the kitchen, consider peeling and steaming a sweet potato or a few brussel sprouts for your dog. They’re both packed with vitamins and minerals and are a good treat in moderation. Just don’t over do it, or you’ll end up with a gassy pup.

Winter vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli are also safe and nutritious options for your dog to gnaw on in moderation.

What to do if your dog ate too many pickles

If your pup takes a bite of a pickle, or even eats a whole one, there’s no cause for concern. However if your dog drinks a jar of pickle juice or polishes off half a jar of pickles before you realize what’s happening, you’ll want to contact your vet immediately. In extreme cases, you may even contact a pet poison control hotline .

Too much salt causes more than high blood pressure for your pup. Look for signs of salt poisoning such as vomiting, lethargy, tremors, and excessive urination. If you notice any of these symptoms after your dog consumes a large amount of pickles, seek emergency care right away.

Canine salt poisoning is a serious health issue and recovery is not always immediate, or even possible. When in doubt, call your veterinarian.

🚨Salt poisoning is a medical emergency that can be fatal, particularly in smaller dogs. If you suspect this in your pup, visit a vet immediately.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if my dog eats a pickle?

Nothing will happen if your dog eats one pickle, unless your dog is a teacup chihuahua that managed to take down a giant pickle. Generally speaking, one pickle is a non-emergency.

How many pickles can a dog eat?

Dogs really shouldn’t eat any pickles. If they accidentally eat one pickle it’s more than likely fine. If your dog eats two or more, you should monitor for signs of salt poisoning.

Will pickles help a dog’s upset stomach?

No. The high amounts of sodium and vinegar in pickles is more likely to cause vomiting and diarrhea rather than cure it.

Can dogs eat pickled gherkins?

Dogs really shouldn’t eat any variation of pickles because the risks outweigh the benefits. If your pup grabbed one pickled gherkin off a plate, they are probably fine.

What are the potential health benefits of pickles for dogs?

Cucumbers and fresh dill offer health benefits for dogs, but pickles do not. To reap the benefits of cucumbers and dill, always opt for fresh rather than in pickled form.