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Can Dogs Eat Pickles? Are Pickles Safe for Dogs? (The Guide)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

can dogs eat pickles

You have probably heard that fruits and veggies are good for dogs. And you’ve probably also heard that these foods are bad for dogs at one time or another. The truth of the matter is that some fruits and vegetables are awesome meal additions, snacks, and supplements for dogs while others can be harmful for reasons such as toxicity and the risk of choking.

So, you may be wondering if your dog can eat pickles and whether eating pickles will influence their health in any way? It’s a legitimate concern that any loving dog parent would have. The answer to whether dogs can eat pickles is two-fold. In some cases, it’s fine for a dog to snack on a pickle because cucumbers are actually healthy for dogs. But in other cases, pickles should be avoided entirely depending on what ingredients they have been pickled with.

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Here’s Why Some Pickles Aren’t Good for Dogs

Most store-bought pickles include lots of different spices and herbs. Some even contain hot peppers that would irritate your dog’s intestinal tract. Onions are a popular pickling ingredient, but they aren’t a safe food for dogs. When eaten, onions can cause a dangerous form of anemia that would be life-threatening if it isn’t caught and treated early enough.

Garlic is another typical pickling ingredient that can also cause anemia, and could result in an upset tummy for you and your pooch to deal with. A large variety of spices and herbs may be inside your jar of pickles that could disagree with your pet’s digestion, irritate an illness that’s already being dealt with, or create a new health problem to worry about.

So, unless you know exactly what’s in your pickles and you are sure that there isn’t anything more than a couple of basic herbs and some vinegar, you’re probably better off keeping pickles away from your pooch. If you really want to share those store-bought pickles with your dog, spend time reading the ingredients list and offer just a bite or two.

Image: Public Domain Pictures

Here’s Why Some Pickles are OK for Dogs

As mentioned before, cucumbers in themselves aren’t a danger to dogs. In fact, cucumbers are good for dogs when they’re enjoyed as snacks. They are hydrating, and they promote good bone and joint health. Pickles are exceptionally low in calories too, which makes them a beneficial snack option for overweight dogs that need to lose weight.

But pickles aren’t just plain old cucumbers. All pickles are soaked in a marinade of vinegar at the very least. Basic pickles are made with nothing more than vinegar, dill, and maybe even a little clove, making fitting snacks for dogs. The vinegar will help keep your dog’s digestive system healthy. And the dill and clove make for great breath fresheners.

If you love eating pickles yourself, you can always make your own at home to share with your pooch. You can expect to save some money on your pickles and create a bonding moment when you share the homemade pickles with your furry family member. Making pickles is pretty easy to do!

Most pickle recipes call for pickling cucumbers, which are shorter and thinner-skinned than the cucumbers you probably buy for salads. You may be able to find pickling cucumbers at your grocery store or local farmer’s market. Some companies will even ship them to you. But if you can’t find any pickling cucumbers, you can use the cucumbers that are sold at your community stores – they just may result in pickles that are a bit softer in texture.

Once you have collected some cucumbers for pickling, cut them into slices or spears and pack them into a clean jar. Fill the jar with white or apple cider vinegar, then add a handful of fresh dill sprigs and a couple of cloves to the mix. Adding a half teaspoon of sugar to your pickling mixture will help balance the herb flavoring out.

If you prefer to make a brine for your pickles, you can simmer the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar melts. Once the brine cools, you can add it to your pickle jar. Tightly close your jar and put it in the fridge for a day or two, then start enjoying these easy-to-make pickles with your dog.

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Here’s How Pickles Should Be Fed to Dogs

Pickles that are safe for your dog to snack on shouldn’t ever be fed to them whole. Even large dog breeds that are used to scarfing their food down can choke on a whole cucumber if they’re too eager to eat it, and they don’t break it down enough before swallowing. You should always cut the pickle down to bite-sized pieces of slices before serving it to your dog.

You can give the pickle pieces to your dog with their meals as a supplement or as a snack between meals. Pickle pieces can also be healthy as rewards during training time. If you aren’t comfortable feeding your dog pickles, you can always give them cucumbers for the vitamin, mineral, and fiber benefits that these crunchy veggies offer.

dog eating
Credit: manushot, Shutterstock

The Bottom Line

Many dogs don’t even enjoy eating pickles because of their acidic nature, so your pooch might make the decision on their own and stay away from pickles. Feeding your dog pickles that are free of ingredients that are toxic to them is really a personal decision.

If your pooch does like pickles and ends up eating a few store-bought pickles without your permission, don’t panic about the possibility of onion or garlic poisoning. You can call your veterinarian for advice and reassurance, or contact the ASPCA animal poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435 to get the guidance you need.

Have you fed your dog pickles? If so, how did the experience play out? We would love to hear all about it! Feel free to share your story with us in the comments section below.

Featured Image Credit: Photo Mix, Pixabay

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