Can Dogs Have Pickles? (The Truth Behind the Snack)

by Stuart | Last Updated:   March 29, 2019
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Dogs are willing to try just about anything. When it comes to giving your dog human foods as snacks and treats, it gets tempting to try one new thing after the other.

So, can dogs have pickles? Pickles are not toxic to dogs, but a veterinarian will not recommend that dogs eat pickles due to their high sodium content and other ingredients that could be harmful to your dog.

It can also depend on what the pickles have been prepared with. For example, if pickles have been cooked in any way with onions, they are extremely toxic to dogs.

Pickles are a human snack and they seem harmless enough. The question is whether they are actually safe for dogs. Let’s get into this in more detail.

Are Pickles Safe for Dogs?

Can dogs have pickles? It’s a common question among dog owners and lovers. First and foremost, the thing that needs to be addressed is safety. Whenever the opportunity arises to give your dog a new human treat, or they jump the gun and eat something from your plate, you want to make sure nothing toxic has gone into their system.

The thing is, there is no blanket answer as to whether pickles are safe for dogs. It depends on what the pickles have been prepared with. For example, if pickles have been cooked in any way with onions, they are extremely toxic to dogs.

Pickles that have been combined with onions can cause Heinz body anemia or hemolytic anemia, a condition that can potentially turn fatal.

The other issue that sometimes comes up with pickles of different types is the spices they were made with. As you can see at the grocery store, there is a large variety of pickles.

Pickles are not all made equally.

Some pickles are heavily spiced with seasonings that are toxic to dogs. While these substances may not all be fatal, they can cause stomach discomfort and problems.

If your dog ate a pickle and you’re worried about whether they’re in immediate danger, try to identify what the pickle was made with.

Remember, pickles cooked with onions could cause a fatal reaction. So, if your dog gets their chomps on that type of pickle, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Pickles And Sodium and Dogs

The main concern when it comes to feeding dogs pickles is the sodium. If you have pickles at home, you can do a quick comparison. Take a look at the sodium content listed on your dog’s food. Next, look at the sodium content in a jar of pickles.

First of all, your dog’s food likely provides nearly 100% of their required daily sodium. Secondly, pickles generally have very high levels of sodium. Dogs do not need more than the recommended amount of daily sodium.

While an occasional slice of pickle won’t do much harm, too much sodium on a regular basis could lead to health issues for your pup.

When dogs are eating a diet that has too much salt included, they can develop a condition called hypernatremia, which means there is too much sodium in their blood. Symptoms of this condition can include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

Not only could your dog develop hypernatremia if they eat too many pickles on a regular basis, but they could end up with high blood pressure as well. High blood pressure in dogs can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

I shouldn’t have had that second pickle…

What About the Other Pickle Spices for Dogs?

Maybe you’re wondering if it’s safe to feed your dog the occasional pickle as long as it hasn’t been cooked with onions. You’re probably curious about the other spices most commonly used with pickles.

Pickles tend to be made with spices like dill, cinnamon, and clove. These spices are safe for dogs and they usually enjoy their tastes. However, there are some pickle spices that you should keep your dog away from.

Avoid giving your dog sweet pickles, which are usually made with nutmeg. Nutmeg contains a chemical called myristicin, which is toxic to dogs.

Another spice to be on the lookout for in pickles is garlic.

While a small amount of garlic might be okay for your pup, it’s important to double check with the veterinarian before feeding them pickles with garlic.

Do Pickles Have Any Benefits For Dogs?

If you break down the basic ingredients of pickles, this is what you get:

  • Cucumber
  • Dill
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Vinegar

To determine whether pickles offer your dog any benefits, you should look at the ingredients one at a time.

Cucumber is a popular snack among dogs because of its crunchy texture. This low-calorie snack is high in fibre and moisture, which can help your dog’s digestive system function well.

Overall, cucumbers don’t offer many nutrients that dogs need in their diet.

It’s also important to limit your dog’s cucumber intake because too much fibre can lead to stomach discomfort.

Dill is a tasty fresh herb that is part of the parsley family. You’ve probably eaten plenty of it yourself in salads and sauces. Dill is safe for dogs, so there’s no need to worry about this part of a pickle.

Dill actually works as a digestive aid for dogs and can be used to relieve discomfort.

You can try giving it to your dog if they’re experiencing stomach upset, gas, nausea, or cramps. Dill can also be used to keep your dog’s breath fresh and to boost their antioxidants. Dogs can eat both fresh dill and dill seed in moderation.

As mentioned before, while dogs do require a daily dose of sodium, it is usually covered by their standard dog food. Pickles have a lot of salt, so they should only be given in careful moderation.

There’s not much need to talk about water! Obviously, your dog needs water and the water they will get from eating a pickle will do no harm.

Pickles are usually made with distilled white vinegar. This type of vinegar doesn’t offer your dog much health benefit (if any at all). If you’re interested in adding vinegar to your dog’s diet, consider apple cider vinegar for more benefits.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, pickles are not the best snack option for your dog. While many of them won’t cause toxic reactions, none of them offer much in the way of nutrition or health benefit.

Rather than take the risk of feeding your dog a dangerous pickle, give them a plain cucumber or find another treat they love. Keep the crunch of pickles for your own enjoyment!


In case you’ve been searching around for other foods that may not be good for dogs, check out some of our posts: