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. Read here to learn about whether dogs can eat pickles safely.
Curious about whether another food is safe for your dog to eat? Check out our Vet’s List of Human Foods Dogs Can and Cannot Eat.
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.
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.
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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.