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Can Cats Eat Pickles? Nutrition Facts & FAQ

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

Can Cats Eat pickles

Pickles are not poisonous to cats. Therefore, your cat isn’t going to have a reaction if they sneak a bit of pickle off of your plate. However, just because they can eat pickles, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should.

The pickling process requires a large amount of salt. Therefore, pickles are high in salt. Even humans should only eat pickles in small amounts, as too many over a certain period of time can lead to long-term problems.

Cats are the same way. However, since they are so much smaller than humans, they need far less for it to become a problem. That said, acute exposure to high amounts of sodium isn’t usually a problem. It’s the long-term exposure that you need to be worried about.

Also, pickles may contain other ingredients that can be dangerous for cats. Some pickles are just pickled cucumbers, but others contain flavorings like garlic, which is toxic to felines. Therefore, you should always completely read the ingredient list if your cat accidentally eats a pickle.

Why Is Sodium Dangerous?

The main reason that cats can’t eat pickles is the high sodium content. No animal can eat too much sodium. However, humans can generally eat more than cats because of our higher body weight. But what is a little bit of sodium for us is a large amount of sodium for cats.

If cats consume too much sodium, it can be harmful. Sodium is an electrolyte, which means that it controls how the body moves water around. You must have sodium to survive, or your body would be unable to transport water.

However, too much sodium can be a problem. For instance, hypernatremia can occur, which refers to having excessive levels of sodium in the bloodstream.

The first signs of this condition include increased thirst. The cat will basically be dehydrated. Next, they may experience confusion, since their brain will not be getting the proper nutrition and water. Finally, coma and seizures can occur if the issue is not treated.

It is difficult for cats to consume enough sodium for this to occur, but it can happen if they are eating many pickles. Therefore, it is essential that you do not allow your cat to eat excessive amounts of pickles, including pickle juice.

If your cat does come down with this condition, treatment is simple. As long as you seek veterinary care right away, your cat can be treated with fluids, which will help stabilize their body. There are not usually any permanent effects if the condition is treated early enough.

cat eating from feeding bowl
Image Credit: Abeer Zaki, Unsplash

Other Ingredients

Most pickles are not simply made with cucumbers and a pickling solution. Instead, many include other ingredients as flavoring, such as garlic, which is a toxin to cats.

Garlic is one of the more toxic foods that a cat can eat, though other plants of the allium species can also cause a reaction. A toxic dosage of garlic is 1 gram per 5 pounds of body weight. Your cat is unlikely going to eat enough pickles for this much garlic to be consumed. However, it is possible. Also, even small levels of garlic can cause other issues. Small cats will be affected faster than large cats. Kittens are often at the biggest risk because they may not even weigh 5 pounds.

Symptoms of garlic poisoning are often gastro-intestinal at first, such as vomiting and diarrhea. This is the body’s way of trying to dispel the toxin. After the garlic has had time to digest, fatigue, difficulty breathing, increased respiratory rate, and increased heart rate can occur. Since garlic affects how the blood works, pale gums may also occur, indicating low levels of red blood cells.

This problem will eventually cause the cat to collapse and go into a coma. You should seek veterinary attention before this happens.

Treatment for garlic poisoning varies depending on how much garlic was consumed and how much time has passed since it was eaten. For cats that have just eaten the garlic, the vet may try to induce vomiting to remove the garlic from the cat’s digestive system. Similarly, the cat’s stomach may also need to be “washed” to remove the toxins.

Beyond that, supportive therapy will be given, such as IV fluids and oxygen therapy. There is no actual cure for garlic poisoning. Instead, the treatment focuses on preventing the garlic from being digested.

pickled cucumber in a jar
Image Credit: ha11ok, Pixabay

Are Cucumbers Toxic to Cats?

Cucumbers themselves are not toxic to cats. A cat could eat cucumber and be perfectly fine. They are not pickled in sodium, so you don’t have to worry about high salt content. Similarly, cucumbers usually aren’t flavored with garlic. (Though, if they are, the garlic will cause problems for the cat.)

That said, cucumbers still aren’t great additions to a cat’s diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, so they mostly need to eat meat. They evolved to live off of prey that they caught, which would not include cucumbers.

Some veggies and fruits can be healthy for cats in small amounts. However, these are helpful because they contain high levels of important vitamins and minerals, not because of their macronutrient content.

Cucumbers are mostly high in water, though, not vitamins and minerals. While they do contain some nutrition, cucumbers are not as nutrient-packed as most other options out there. Therefore, they are not great additions to a cat’s diet. If you want your cat to eat veggies, you’re better off choosing something a bit more nutrient-rich.

Cucumbers are not the reason that cats shouldn’t have pickles. They are safe for cats to eat, though still not recommended.

What Should I Do If My Cat Eats Pickles?

If you notice that your feline has eaten a pickle, you may not have to rush them to the vet. First, check the ingredient list on the pickle jar. If they do not include any dangerous flavorings, your cat will likely be fine. You should keep an eye on them, of course, but a few bites of a regular pickle aren’t going to cause any problems.

But if there is another flavoring included, especially garlic, you should contact your vet right away. They may want you to bring your cat in, or they may simply recommend watching your cat for symptoms.

Now that you know what you can safely feed your cat, it’s just as important to find a bowl that supports their health and well-being. With whisker-friendly bowls and a wide tray to catch any spills, our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite option.

hungry white cat hepper nom nom bowl licking lip

Final Thoughts

Pickles aren’t good options for your cat. While they aren’t toxic in most cases, they can still cause underlying issues if they are fed to your cat regularly. Pickles are extremely high in sodium, which is not good for cats.

Featured Image Credit: PhotoMIX-Company, Pixabay

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