A delicious, crisp pickle can be a fun food for people to eat, but can dogs eat pickles, too? There are so many foods out there, and it’s quite common to wonder if you can share a meal with your dog. There are many reasons you might want to offer people food to your dog, such as when you’re trying to entice them to eat or just because you know it’s a food they love. Of course, sometimes dogs help themselves to a bite of your food, and then you need to be concerned about whether what they ate is safe for them. I know food lands on the floor in my house with young kids, and the dogs know where to be when it falls!
Remember dogs and people can eat lots of the same things, but not always. It is important to make sure you’re sharing foods that won’t cause any harm to your pets by understanding the human foods dogs can and cannot eat. Read here to learn about whether dogs can eat pickles safely.
Is it Safe for my Dog to Eat Pickles?
Yes (but only in moderation)
In general, pickles are not toxic or poisonous to dogs. If your dog eats a pickle, she will be just fine. However, I don’t recommend planning on feeding pickles to your pup.
Pickles don’t offer any particular health benefits to your dog that he couldn’t get from eating cucumbers. And, there are ingredients in pickles that can certainly cause problems for dogs. So, considering possible health issues, I wouldn’t feed my dog pickles.
Again, if your dog manages to eat some fallen pickles, it will not generally cause toxicity or danger for her. Even small dogs would be okay eating pickles.
Safety Concerns and Risks Associated with Pickles for Dogs
Pickles do contain some ingredients that make this a higher-risk food to feed dogs. Pickles are cucumbers that are immersed in brine (a salt solution) and vinegar. Typically, spices or seasonings are also added to the solution to create different flavors or types of pickles.1
The high sodium (or salt) content can be dangerous for some dogs. If an extreme excess of salt is eaten by dogs (usually about 2.2 grams for every pound of bodyweight), then salt poisoning can be seen. Symptoms of salt poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and seizures in severe cases.2 Luckily it would take a very large volume of pickles to reach a true salt poisoning dose. Two dill pickle spears contain approximately 600mg of sodium. A 20-pound dog would have to eat approximately 120 spears of pickles to reach a possible salt poisoning level, this is not likely to happen.
However, if your dog has certain underlying diseases, the salt intake can be harmful. For example, dogs that have heart disease or kidney disease should be very careful with their salt intake.34 I would advise avoiding pickles in dogs with these diseases. The increased salt can be especially hard on the heart for these dogs.
The higher salt content of pickles can sometimes lead dogs to drink excess water. If he drinks too much water too fast, it will cause vomiting.
Some dogs with sensitive stomachs are likely to have vomiting and diarrhea after eating pickles. So, if you do offer your dog pickles, give a very small amount and watch closely.
Pickles can have a small amount of garlic and onion as a flavoring. In larger amounts, garlic and onion are toxic for dogs. It would be unlikely for there to be enough garlic or onion in pickles to cause toxicity, but this is just another reason to use caution with pickles.
Is There a Volume Limit for Pickles?
As with all treats, they should not be more than 10% of your dog’s calorie intake for the day. Meaning, 90% of your dogs’ calories should come from his balanced dog food.
Given some of the concerns with pickles, I wouldn’t generally choose to feed pickles to dogs. If you do give your dog a pickle, it should be just one here and there. And, remember if your dog has heart disease or kidney disease, then I would avoid any high salt treats, such as pickles.
If your dog accidentally eats a larger number of pickles, most likely she will be fine. Salt, garlic, and onions are ingredients that could cause concern. But, it takes 2.5 ounces of garlic or onion to be toxic to a 30-pound dog.5 And for the same 30-pound dog, it would take 66 grams of salt to be poisonous. Therefore, even if your dog ate a jar of pickles, these are not too likely. However, you need to monitor closely for vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy if your dog eats a lot of pickles. If you notice these symptoms contact your veterinarian right away.
Food Preparation Ideas
Pickles given in a small amount are unlikely to cause a problem or be dangerous, but I wouldn’t plan or prepare to feed them specifically.
There are some human foods that dogs can eat safely, as well as some human foods dogs can’t eat.
If you have a dog, you might be used to seeing adorable puppy eyes begging for a bite of, well, anything that you happen to be eating.
While it’s natural to want to share human food with your furry pal, many of the foods we eat are toxic to dogs. Some reasons foods may be harmful to your pup include:
- Foods that are a problem due to our physiological differences (foods we can handle that a dog’s stomach can’t)
- Other foods aren’t toxic, but are still potentially dangerous for dogs because they are hard to digest
- Another category of foods that are a problem for dogs are foods that may contain high levels of fat
Some tips and words of caution if you are feeding your pet human foods:
- Always keep in mind that new foods of any kind, including switching to a different dog food, can cause stomach upset.
- When you find a human food you’d like to share with your pup, go slowly. Give small amounts at first and watch for any problems like vomiting or diarrhea before giving more.
- Remember that treats should make up less than 10% of your dog’s diet. So all of the foods that are safe for your dog should be given in moderation to avoid weight gain and nutrient excesses and deficiencies.
What To Do if Your Dog Eats Something He Shouldn’t
Now that you know what foods are safe for dogs, it’s a good idea to know what to do if your pup eats food that’s toxic to dogs.
If your dog does end up eating something he shouldn’t, try not to panic. You have a few options for getting the help your dog needs:
- The first is to call your dog’s veterinarian, who can advise you to either come into the office or to watch for signs of poisoning, obstruction, or other potential problems.
- If it’s after hours, you can try calling an emergency veterinarian.
- Another option is to call a pet poison control line. Be aware that there is a fee to use these services. Two that we can recommend are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.
In some cases, you might be told to induce vomiting in your dog. It is helpful to keep hydrogen peroxide on hand in case you need to do this.
Do not induce vomiting unless your veterinarian or someone from one of the pet poison control hotlines advises you to do so, however, because in some cases, vomiting can make the situation worse. [efn_note]Is it ever safe to induce vomiting? ASPCA.org. November 19, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021.[/efn_note]
Now you know pickles are not poisonous to healthy dogs, and dogs can eat an occasional pickle without problems. Always monitor your dog closely. If you notice any decrease in appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea make sure to stop offering people food and check in with your veterinarian. Just like people, some foods may be safe but still not agree with your dog’s tummy.
To find out what may agree with your dog’s tummy, we have an entire series of guides on the topic of what’s safe for your pet to eat if you have additional questions, including whether your dog can eat mangoes, raw chicken, honey, marshmallows, or brussel sprouts.
Obviously you’re likely interested in the quality of your dog’s food and your pet’s health, in addition to having questions about what your dog can and can’t eat. We happen to have a ton of resources on these very topics!
One is our guide which will teach you how to add fiber to a dog’s diet, along with or our guide to choosing the high fiber dog food. If you’re looking into dog upset stomach we have a guide for that as well, and we can even help answer how long does it take a dog to digest food?. If you’re portioning your dog’s food you can also check out our guide to choosing the best automatic dog feeder.
We also have a series of health and nutritional information for your dog. Our dog weight calculator and our answer to how heavy should my dog be? can help you determine if your dog is the proper weight and size, and we even have a collection of breed-specific growth charts such as our goldendoodle growth chart, great dane growth chart, golden retriever growth chart, chihuahua growth chart, or our labrador growth chart.
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- Avey T. History in a Jar: The Story of Pickles. Pbs.org. Published September 3, 2014. Accessed September 22, 2021.
- Thompson LJ. Overview of Salt Toxicity. Merckvetmanual.com. Updated January 2015. Accessed September 22, 2021.
- Llera R, Downing R. Nutrition for Dogs with Heart Disease. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed September 22, 2021.
- Cummings Veterinary Medical Center. My pet has kidney disease – what kind of diet should I feed? Tufts.edu. Published May 3, 2016. Accessed September 22, 2021.
- Pet Poison Helpline. Are Onions Poisonous to Dogs?, Petpoisonhelpline.com. Accessed September 22, 2021.