Olives are such a fun tasty treat to pop into your mouth, eat on a pizza or in a salad, or as a garnish in your martini. This Mediterranean fruit has been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years.
Whether you have an olive tree in your backyard or have been tempted to give in to your pup’s begging when you’re eating a few olives on your cheese board, you may have wondered: can dogs eat olives?
Continue reading to find out whether or not dogs can eat olives, any possible benefits or risks of feeding dogs olives, and everything you should know before you give one to your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Olives?
Yes, dogs can eat olives in moderation. This fruit isn’t toxic to dogs. However, if you are going to feed olives to your dog, you need to pay close attention to how these olives are packaged.
Olives come in many different colors, they can be pitted or unpitted, soaked in brine, oil or alcohol, and stuffed with pimentos, cheese, garlic and more. With so many varieties available it’s important for pet parents to know what types of olives are ok for dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Black Olives?
Yes, dogs can eat black olives. Most black olives are just green olives that have had more time to ripen before they are picked. The important thing to note if you are going to feed your dog olives is that they should never contain pits.
Can Dogs Eat Green Olives?
Your pup can also enjoy an occasional green olive. Green olives often come stuffed with pimento peppers. These peppers are not spicy and are also non-toxic to dogs.
Can Dogs Have Olive Oil?
In general, feeding olive oil to dogs isn’t recommended if your dog is already eating a complete and balanced commercial diet. Olive oil is the concentrated fat that comes from pressing olives. For this reason, olive oil is much higher in fat and calories per serving than the olive fruits.
Olive oil does contain many unsaturated fats that are linked to health benefits in humans and it may be recommended by your veterinarian if your dog is recovering from a condition called bile stasis.
However, since it is pure fat, feeding olive oil to your dog can quickly lead to unhealthy weight gain. Olive oil may also lead to an upset stomach in your dog, or possibly pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening condition. If you choose to feed your dog olive oil make sure to first speak with your veterinarian. Also make sure to give your dog only unflavored olive oil as some flavored olive oils may contain irritating spices or toxic garlic or onion.
Dangers of Olives for Dogs
You should never feed your dog olives with pits. The pits are extremely hard and can easily crack a tooth. The pits can also pose a choking hazard or end up causing an intestinal blockage in dogs, especially in small breeds.
You also shouldn’t feed dogs olives packed in oil. Olives are already naturally high in fat and calories and feeding olives that are packed in oil can make them even more so which may lead to stomach upset, weight gain, or pancreatitis.
Some olives come packed in vermouth, a type of drinking alcohol. Alcohol is toxic to dogs and alcohol-soaked olives should never be fed.
Stuffed olives can pose other health risks to dogs. Olives that are stuffed or packed with garlic, onions, or shallots should not be fed to dogs as these ingredients are toxic and can cause their red blood cells to burst.
Benefits of Olives for Dogs
There have not been many studies looking at possible benefits of feeding dogs olives. Some pet foods contain olive oil as a source of fat. However, based on studies in humans, it is possible that olives may have some health benefits for dogs. In humans, olive oil has proven benefits for heart health and it may help to prevent breast cancer and type 2 diabetes.
In dogs, common misconceptions are that feeding olive oil to your dog or rubbing olive oil on your dog’s coat will lead to a healthier skin and coat. This is not recommended by veterinary dermatologists and feeding your dog fish oil is recommended instead.
Olives are rich in antioxidants and other healthful plant compounds that may provide benefits to dogs, but olives shouldn’t be consumed in quantities high enough for this to make an impact on your dog’s overall health. This being said, an olive is a healthier treat option than, say, a piece of cheese or hot dog.
Precautions When Feeding Olives to Dogs
As previously stated, should you choose to feed your dog olives, they should be pitted, should not be packed in any oils, spices, or alcohol and generally shouldn’t be stuffed–unless pimento-stuffed.
Because olives don’t generally taste good straight from the tree, they must be cured and this process usually involves infusing them with a high amount of salt. For this reason, olives are fairly high in sodium. You should avoid feeding your dog excess sodium as this can be harmful, especially if your dog has certain health conditions like heart disease.
Given their small size, olives are fairly high in calories and fat, with a single olive containing between five and fifteen calories depending on its size. Feeding your toy breed two olives per day in addition to her regular food could very quickly lead to weight gain. As a rule of thumb, you should only feed a single olive here and there to small dog breeds and no more than about four olives to large breeds.
Dogs that are prone to stomach problems and those with a history of pancreatitis should not be fed olives.
Make sure to speak with your veterinarian before feeding your dog olives if your pet has any health issues and, just like with any new food, start with a very small amount to ensure your dog tolerates this occasional treat.