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Health & Wellness

Can dogs eat pickles?

Yes (but only when pickled properly).

Pickles come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and flavors — so naturally, an ingredient as broad as this will come with some caveats when it comes to potential snack fodder for pups. 

But considering most pickles are made from cucumbers, which are indeed safe and quite nutritious for dogs, it stands to reason that pickles would be just as snack-ready, with much of the same health benefits. And after speaking to Dr. Fotios Bris, DVM, MS, a veterinarian at Small Door Veterinary in Brooklyn, New York, we found this to be mostly true, with the main variables being sodium, sugar and vinegar.

(Even though some pickles are generally safe for dogs, always consult your vet before introducing a new food item to their diet.)

Are pickles good for dogs?

As the most commonly pickled veggie, cucumbers are low in calories and sugar and loaded with nutrients that are great for dogs, including Vitamins C and K, potassium, magnesium and biotin. This means that pickles, which are typically made by soaking cucumbers in a pickling solution of water, salt, spices and vinegar, retain a lot of those nutrients and are just as healthy for your best friend. Well, for the most part anyway.  

Not all pickles are made exactly the same, which means each batch contains different levels of salt, vinegar and varying spices in the process. But certain kinds, especially pickles made with apple cider vinegar (rich with probiotics) and less salt, are ideal. As one of the most common seasonings used to make pickles, dill is also good for dogs in that the antioxidant-rich herb can aid digestion, freshen doggie breath and ease inflamed joints. 

Are pickles bad for dogs?

An ingredient as broad as pickles has some serious variables, many of which are not healthy or safe for pups. For instance, pickles made with distilled white vinegar can cause a stomach ache or diarrhea, and pickles made with lots of salt are never a good idea, in that high sodium intake can pose a problem for high blood pressure, heart issues and kidney ailments

Then there are sweet pickles, aka bread-and-butter pickles, which can be so cloyingly sweet and obviously sugary, that it shouldn’t come as a surprise they’re not safe for pups. Too much sugar can cause an array of issues, from diabetes to tooth decay to weight gain — so the fact that a single sweet pickle can contain upwards of 28 grams of sugar is a big no-no.

RELATED: Can dogs eat coconuts?

How to serve your dogs pickles 

From slivers to spears, pickles come in an array of shapes and sizes, and for our furry friends, the smaller the better. While cucumbers definitely have more health benefits than pickles (considering they’re the same thing, minus the added salt and sugar), a few small pickle pieces certainly won’t hurt, as long as they’re plain, chopped into little pieces and they’re not sweet. Don’t give your pup a whole pickle, or even a whole spear; it’s much better to dice them up and give them as a small snack.  

Whether your pet chokes or has a bad reaction, it’s always good to have an emergency preparedness plan in place when introducing new foods to your dog’s diet. Here are some quick steps to get you started are:

  • Write down the phone numbers for poison control, local 24-hour emergency pet hospitals and animal ambulances in your area.
  • Put together a pet emergency kit including latex gloves, an information card with your vet’s address and phone number and towels.
  • Practice for emergencies by familiarizing your pet with riding in the car.

Happy snacking

When it comes to crunchy green veggies, fresh cucumbers are still better than pickled ones, but as long as excess sodium or sugar aren’t a factor, it’s perfectly fine to let your pup snack on some pickle pieces now and again.  

We’re confident that pickles aren’t the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series “Can dogs eat ... ?” to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what’s fair game.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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