After recently watching an obscure cartoon show (not recommended for the faint-heart hearted or conservative) where an otherworldly dog eats pickles, it made me ask: can dogs eat pickles?
I’ve honestly never considered letting my dogs eat pickles before but the aptly named Mr. Pickles piqued my curiosity. The answer is tricky though. Yes, dogs can eat pickles but sometimes pickles are bad for dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Pickles?
Pickles or gherkins to the English are fermented cucumbers soaked in vinegar, brine, salt, or other acidic/saline solutions with herbs and spices like dill. Pickling makes the cucumber very tangy and sour and most people prefer their taste to that of a regular cucumber.
Although dogs can eat cucumbers and are even considered healthy as they are low in fat, sodium, and calories; the same cannot be said be about pickles.
During pickling, many of the nutrients are lost. All that remains is lots of fiber with slight traces of minerals, irons, antioxidants, and Vitamins A and K.
What Kind of Pickles Can Dogs Eat?
Some people let their dogs eat pickles in place of a more traditional treat every now and then. This can work if your dog has to lose weight as pickles are both low in fat and calories.
If you really want to give your dog a pickle, opt for the non-spicy, unsalted, and unsweetened variations.
Because of the salt and sodium used in the curing process, rinsing the pickle off before giving it to your dog is also recommended.
Dogs should only eat pickles in small portions only once or twice a week max because of their high salt and sodium content and never as part of their regular diets.
What About Pickle Juice?
There are bogus recommendations out there tha if your dog is dehydrated you should give him/her pickle juice as it is packed with electrolytes.
However, pickle juice is bad for dogs because of the high amount of salt, spices, and vinegar. If your dog is dehydrated, giving him/her pickle juice may very well worsen the condition because it also has a lot of sodium.
While Mr. Pickles is named after his favorite snack, most dogs may not even like to eat pickles. If they do and go all cross-eyed it can be rather amusing.
But jokes aside, make sure to note all the symptoms listed above in case you find yourself in a pickle where your dog has nabbed your burger without permission.
Are Pickles Bad For Dogs?
Yes and no. Some pickles are absolutely very bad for dogs. The differentiation between safe and non-safe pickles has mostly to with the curing.
A compound found in onion is extremely toxic for dogs. It destroys red blood cells causing them to burst. This is called hemolysis which can lead to Heinz body anemia.
Symptoms Of Anemia And Onion Toxicity Include:
If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms after nicking your burger with pickles prepared in onion, get him/her to the vet ASAP. Heinz body anemia can be fatal and a blood transfusion might be necessary.
Sodium And Salt
Many people (including myself until now) think that sodium and salt is the same thing but these terms actually refer to two different things.
Sodium is actually found in salt. Table salt is made of 40% sodium and the remainder of chloride. Yet it is also naturally found in many whole foods and some dairy products. Sodium is used when canning and curing foods and when smoking meats. It is prevalent in many fast foods as well.
Although if dogs eat something with too much sodium once in a blue moon it won’t have any adverse effects, too much salt will. Excess salt will increase result in excessive sodium levels in the bloodstream which can result in hypernatremia.
Bear in mind that commercial dog foods, in general, will already fill out the daily recommendation of salt so you don’t actually want to exceed this by letting dogs eat pickles regularly.
Symptoms Of Hypernatremia Include:
Additionally, if dogs eat a high salt diet regularly they could develop high blood pressure which in turn can cause either a stroke or heart attack.
Dogs with heart conditions or any health problems related to sodium should never eat pickles.