April 25, 2020

Can Dogs Eat Olives?

Risks, Benefits and Serving Size

Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Dogs are primarily designed to eat meat, but they love fruit too. Olives are a great, healthy food choice for human beings. But what is good for us is not necessarily good for our canines.

And dogs being dogs, they'll eat any tasty snack, period. It's up to you to figure out if they should be allowed to.

Can Dogs Eat Olives?

Yes, dogs can eat olives. Plain, unsalted olives are not toxic and contain many useful nutrients. Still, you should avoid feeding any salted or stuffed olives to your canine. Pits are not toxic but may pose a choking hazard. Also, follow the recommendations with the serving size to avoid health problems.

Olives have some great health benefits for your dog when fed in small quantities. However, there's a huge variety of olives out there. Far from all of them are ideal for your pet.

Health Benefits: Are Olives Good For Dogs?

There are actually two types of olives, green and black. They come from the same tree and are the same fruit. The only real difference is the time of harvest and nutritional composition.

Green olives are harvested earlier, black olives later. Fresh off the tree, their taste is not at all appealing. It's the processing that turns them into the tasty treat we know.

Olives are a great, nutritious food for your dog. They will help boost his immunity and supply essential vitamins.

How Do Olives Fit Into A Dog's Diet?

Although there is an ongoing debate on whether dogs are carnivores or omnivores, dogs should still get most of their energy from meats. That means their ideal nutrition is meat-based. Given a choice, dogs will eat mainly protein and fat, with carbs comprising less than 10% of their diet.

Their energy mostly comes from fats. But they do occasionally choose to eat other things too. These will usually include fruits and veggies, and sometimes less savory stuff like poop too.

Olives, both green and black, contain loads of protein and fat. They also contain very little carbs. It fits nicely into the canine's natural diet preference.

Different olives on table

Fats have been demonized in the media, and we've learned to avoid them. But healthy fats are an essential part of your dog's nutrition. Giving your dog a couple of unsalted olives to nibble on is good for him. Just be sure to remove the pit first.

A Great Source Of Essential Vitamins

Dogs need a good, balanced diet to function well and remain healthy. Olives provide several essential vitamins for your dog. As with most fatty plant foods, they are an excellent source of vitamin E.

This vitamin is not just beneficial; it is essential for your dog. A lack of vitamin E in dogs can lead to retinopathy, where their vision degenerates. It can also have adverse effects on the immune system.

Olives are also a good source of iron and calcium. Your dog needs this to keep his red blood cells functioning well. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia in dogs. Dogs also require calcium to build their teeth and bones. A lack of calcium can lead to several severe problems, especially in large dogs.

Plenty Of Antioxidants

This ancient fruit also happens to be an excellent source of several antioxidants. The modern dog's diet is usually kibble. Some manufacturers will include antioxidants in their dog food, and others won't. And even when they do add them, it's often a limited amount.

Antioxidants are essential for boosting your dog's immune system. They will help keep your pet in overall good health for longer. They're also known to help prevent heart problems, something many modern dog breeds suffer from.

The Verdict

Olives are a great, nutritious food for your dog. They will help boost his immunity and supply essential vitamins. The fat, vitamin E, and antioxidants in olives will also show in your dog's coat.

They contribute towards skin and fur health and will help keep your dog's coat healthy. We all love it when our pets have clean, soft skin and beautiful, shiny fur.

Health Risks: Are Olives Bad For Dogs?

Olives in and of themselves really don't contain much that would be bad for your dog. It is especially true if they're fed in smaller amounts. However, care needs to be taken with how they've been processed.

A tasty stuffed olive may not be as good for your dog, as you think.

To keep your pet safe, avoid olives that have a high sodium content. It's also a good idea to stay away from stuffed olives.

High Sodium Content

Excessive sodium is even worse for dogs than it is for humans. Too much sodium intake can cause dehydration. And if consumed continuously over longer periods, it can lead to high blood pressure in dogs.

Olives, especially many canned ones, contain a lot of sodium. Fresh olives are inedible, and they are made edible by curing. This process gives olives their high sodium content. Although olives can differ in how much salt they contain, the levels are always pretty high.

Because olives always contain quite a lot of sodium, you should never feed your dog too many olives. Also, keep them as an occasional treat to prevent any health problems related to excessive salt intake.

Avoid Stuffed Olives

Olives, green, and black both are a part of many delicious recipes. Frequently they come stuffed with all sorts of seasonings. The olive itself may be good for your dog, but the seasoning probably isn't.

Olives are often stuffed with things like garlic, spices, and foods high on sugars and starch. Many times these can cause your dog problems, from mild indigestion to severe poisoning.

Choking Hazard

Dogs are often in a hurry to grab their treat. They simply will not stop to spit out the pit of that tasty olive. The pit is not poisonous to dogs if swallowed. But it can easily get stuck in your dog's throat, causing him to choke. 

It may also lodge itself in the intestinal tract, causing pain and sometimes leading to surgical removal. Larger dogs may not be so much at risk, but watch out for your smaller pooch.

Serving Size and How to Feed?

We've already mentioned that olives are good for your dog. The important thing is not to feed too much too frequently. It's also important to make sure that your dog is eating a balanced diet that caters to all his needs. Olives should be just an occasional treat, not an indispensable part of his daily meals.

Give your pet only a couple of pitted olives to chew on once or twice a week.

No Stuffing, Salt, Or Pits

Check that any olives you plan to feed your dog are low in sodium, and please avoid any that have stuffing. It's also a good idea to check that they're not moldy.

You may be able to find unsalted olives, but as most store-bought olives are stored in brine, the salt content is high, and you should be careful to offer these in only very small amounts.

If they're not pitted, be sure to remove the pit before feeding. Give your pet only a couple of pitted olives to chew on once or twice a week. It will ensure that his sodium intake is kept reasonable.

Nutrition Facts

A 100 grams of olive will provide 115 calories. This fruit contains several vitamins and antioxidants that contribute positively to your dog's health. It also has little that a dog should not eat.

The reason olives are good for your dog is their great nutritional composition.

High Energy, Low Carb

A dog's energy needs are satisfied mainly by fats, not carbs. With 10.7 grams per 100, most of the calories in olives come from their fat content.

Carbs contribute only 6.3 grams per 100. It matches them quite well to a dog's natural dietary needs. Olives do have some protein too, at 0.8 grams per 100, and are about 80% water. They contain no sugar, which is excellent for your dog.

Good Selection Of Vitamins And Minerals

Olives are a good source of several nutrients vital to your dog's good health. Per 100 grams, they contain 1.63 mg of vitamin E, 3.3 mg of iron, and 88mg of calcium. All these are essential for your dog to remain healthy and strong. They also contain small amounts of B-complex vitamins such as niacin and pantothenic acid.

Powerful Antioxidants

These Mediterranean fruits are a great source of several antioxidants. Oleuropein and oleocanthal are two of these. Together with vitamins E and A, they boost the immune system and prevent inflammation. They also work to keep your dog's heart and blood vessels healthy. Combined with the healthy fat in olives, these antioxidants improve your dog's coat too.

High Sodium Content

This is the reason olives should be fed to dogs in moderation. On average, they contain a whopping 735mg of sodium per 100 grams. Dogs should generally not consume more than 100mg of sodium per day. So feeding a large dose of olives poses a health risk to your dog.

Bottom line: Can Dogs Have Olives?

Many dogs love olives and will happily gobble them down. As much as they are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants, they're also high on sodium. The benefits of eating olives can be easily negated by excess sodium consumption. 

Keep your dog healthy by feeding him a quality, well-balanced diet. Let him have a plain, pitted olive or two every now and then as a treat. This way, you don't have to worry about him eating too much sodium. And he'll get the best out of this rich, nutritious fruit.

Olives for Dogs - FAQ

Can black olives kill dogs?

Black olives can not kill dogs if they are pitted and fed in moderation. Still, olives contain a lot of sodium, which is not healthy for your dog and can dehydrate him. Dogs can eat plain, pitted olives in small amounts. The pits may pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockages, and your dog’s sodium intake should be limited.

Vet's Comment

Olives are great to give your dog in moderation. If your dog did accidentally eat a whole jar of olives, it might have a little bit of diarrhea for the next few days. This will quickly clear up after a few days.

ALWAYS make sure that you remove the pits before giving olives to your dog. I have seen these pits cause major GI problems, and even a little dog had to have surgery to remove a handful of pits that got stuck in their intestines.

- Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

Sara Redding Ochoa Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa

DVM

Sara Redding Ochoa, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, was raised in Calhoun, LA. She knew since she was a little girl that her dream was to become a veterinarian. Dr. Ochoa attended Louisiana Tech for her undergraduate school, and then attended St. George University to complete veterinary school. After graduating, Dr. Ochoa moved to east Texas and has been working as a small animal and exotic veterinarian.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your dog's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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