Can dogs eat olives? We know they CAN! They can eat a lot of things! The question we really want to look at is “Should dogs eat olives?”
The short answer is: Yes! But …
First, the “yes” part.
Sometimes when we see our dogs eating unexpected things, it’s because they’re just following their instincts. Dogs are omnivorous, meaning that they naturally eat meat and animal parts as well as plant materials.
We’ve all seen and heard examples of our pets enjoying what we may think ares very undogly snacks. Some of the more common ones include bananas, strawberries, and cucumbers. My dog Dobro loves Brazil nuts so I usually give him one when I’m eating a handful of mixed unsalted nuts.
Understanding Dog Diets
The canines from whom dogs eventually descended were self-reliant and knew what to substitute when desired foods were scarce. Dogs nowadays depend on humans after thousands of years of their forebears becoming accustomed to humans feeding them.
The basic instincts remain but dogs have survived by hanging around us, eating what we eat and what we give them.
Surviving is one thing, but surviving successfully and comfortably is something else. Because dogs see humans as their pack leaders – did you know that’s who you are? – dogs trust us to give them the right food to keep them healthy.
They no longer have the option to go hunting to get what they need. We love our dogs but often need to show it by doing the tough love thing and withholding certain foods.
Your vet’s office is a great resource for information, providing literature as well as lists of books and websites where you can learn more about canine health and nutrition.
I can tell you from years of personal experience that it will save you money, time, and heartache to establish a relationship (in advance of a crisis) with a local vet with whom you feel comfortable. The office is available to answer your questions in a way that’s individualized for each pet, and can make dietary recommendations, like “No more pizza! Too much fat and salt!
They have a record of past visits with your dog, so initial treatment advice can often be given over the phone. Because they know you, you’ll often feel more comfortable notifying them sooner about abnormal health and behavioral changes.
What Are Olives
Did you know that olives are fruit? Think about it: a fruit results when a pollinated flower grows seeds surrounded by nourishing tissue.
Fruit comes in many forms. Each of the foods I mentioned earlier – bananas, strawberries, cucumbers, and the covering containing Brazil nuts – is a fruit.
Olives are a special kind of fruit called a drupe, a single seed or pit encased in a soft “bed” and a protective covering. Olive trees flourish in warm, dry climates with rainy winters and can live hundreds of years.
The History of Olives
Archaeologists have proof that olives have been cultivated by humans for at least 8,000 years, at first around the borders of what is now Turkey and Syria, then spreading through the Mediterranean lands.
The fruit on the tree is extremely bitter, which makes it inedible except to certain birds, but it became valuable for its abundant rich oil. The oil became part of the culture because of its many uses, including cooking, medicine, skin care, cosmetics, and fuel.
The ancient Olympic torch burned olive oil. You can find references to the use of the olive tree and its fruit in the Old Testament as well as other texts. In the old days, destroying someone’s olive trees was like horse thievery. Between nations, it was even cause for war.
Olive Production Today
Many varieties of olives are used today – go to a gourmet grocery just to taste some of the available delicacies. You’ll see all different sizes and colors. Some, especially green ones, are much saltier than others.
Soaking in brine – salt water – is by far the most common method of curing olives to preserve them, but they can also be sun-dried. The sun-dried olives have a much different taste and texture from the ones you’re likely used to.
One company boasts a secret fresh-water fermenting process but you’ll have to special-order these to try them. Many companies use herbs and spices to produce gourmet olives.
I was surprised to realize that olives are really pickles – think about it: a plant part soaked in water with added substances for a certain amount of time for preserving and flavor. I often marvel how ancient people figured out that olives had useful oil and that brine made the bitter fruit edible.
Most of the world’s olives come from Spain because it has the ideal growing climate, but other major producers include countries along the Mediterranean, South Africa, Australia, Chile, and California.
Benefits Of Olives
Cured olives and olive oil contain many beneficial nutrients for humans as well as animals. The cured flesh of the fruit is high in valuable nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Carotenoids and polyphenols are known to promote a balanced immune system.
Many of the healthful components are concentrated in the oil. The monounsaturated fats, also known as “good fats,” have proven cardiovascular and neurological benefits similar to the omega-3 fatty acids in fish, flax and chia seeds, walnuts, and other plants.
Potential benefits may be especially helpful in the support of conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Many people have used the oil to prevent and assist constipation, also to stimulate their pets’ lagging appetites. Talk to your vet for dosage information for the best health benefits.
Used externally, olive oil has been popular all over the world to moisturize the skin and hair, and providing relief for flaking and itching.
Concerns About Giving Your Dog Olives
For your dog, the primary concern about olives is the high sodium content, the saltiness. Dog’s digestive systems differ from ours, so some things aren’t absorbed the same way, and salt is one of them. High sodium intake can actually kill your dog.
By the way, some olives are cured with lye!
Many foods we enjoy such as chocolate, grapes, and avocado, are actually toxic to our pets. Sure, we’ve heard stories from our friends that sound like, “What do you mean? I give Puffball chocolate all the time and she’s fine!” But we can’t see what’s going on inside Puffball so we don’t know how body is being affected, both short-term and long-term.
Choking is another issue to consider. You would be very careful about giving a little kid grapes or bites of hot dogs, right?
Any emergency room employee can tell you horror stories of choking. You can perform the Heimlich maneuver on your dog if you know how and if you are present when the dog begins to choke, but be aware that olives and their pits can not only block the airway, but obstruct the intestinal passageways.
Small dog breeds like many terriers have voracious appetites and often inhale their food. If a smaller dog eats a bunch of olives with seeds, these can impact the intestines and bowls causing your pet extreme pain and risk it becoming an emergency situation.
I almost forgot to mention that olive pits can chip or crack teeth in the same way as cherry seeds, ice, bones, food cans, rocks, and other things dogs sometimes like to gnaw on.
Olives are often stuffed with garlic, salty sardines, bleu cheese, and other foods bad for dogs. As their leader and caregiver, you don’t want to give them something you know that several experts have repeatedly claimed to be harmful.
Alternatives To Olives
Olive oil in moderation can be very beneficial for your dog, who will likely enjoy the flavor and texture. Not only does it help digestion, but it promotes a healthy skin and coat.
What’s more, if your dog smells the olives on your breathe and you think he is eager to try some, give him a small spoonful of olive oil instead. If he thinks you’re giving him the same treat you had, he feels included in the pack. A nice little dog psychology there!
Some people keep healthful snacks nearby so they can share without the dog getting the notion that he always gets the same thing the human does. Especially if you eat together and often share food. Homemade pumpkin dog treats are ideal to keep around in case your pups gets hangry at the same time you do.
Frequently Asked Questions
Shouldn’t dogs naturally know better than to eat something that’s bad for them?
Like humans, you mean? Unfortunately they assume that if you are eating it, then its good for them too.
Shouldn’t dogs naturally know that they shouldn’t stuff themselves?
Our dogs’ ancestors were opportunistic, often glutting on food because another meal wasn’t ever guaranteed. In the old days it was a survival technique. Nowadays, not so much. Modern-day dogs observe what their humans eat.
What will happen if I give my dog pizza with olives or from off the top of my pizza?
Pizza contains a lot of salt and fat, not the most nutritious snack to promote your dog’s health. Depends on the amount of olives on the pizza but most likely she won’t get sick from the olives, the pizza however, could led to a pretty bad tummy ache. So its better to stick to regular olives without the pizza oil and sodium drippings.
Are certain olives better than others for dogs? Can dogs eat black olives instead?
Since green olives contain more salt, black olives are better for them. While you want to be careful about your dog eating any type of olive, the seedless black olives in natural juices or rinsed would be ok to give in very small amounts, preferably cut up.
How many olives will kill a dog?
This is all dependent on the weight, age, and size of your dog. If you are worried that your dog may have eaten too many olives or olives with pits- its best to take him the vet right away.
What are unsalted olives and where can you get them?
As mentioned earlier, olives can be cured by sun-drying or by using fresh water infused with herbs, but they can be pricey. You can order them online, or possibly have a gourmet section of a grocery special order them for you.
Can I produce my own olives?
It’s more expensive than buying them, but yes, you certainly can.
Is Olive Oil ok To give My dog?
Yes, this is ok for a spoonful or so at a time or mixed in with his food. I would avoid using the olive oil that olives come in as that can have added sodium or other preservatives that are not good for dogs.
Is the word “olive” related to the word “oil?”
I know this isn’t a frequently asked questions but it’s so interesting that I had to include it. The meat of the olive contains up to 30% oil. The English word “oil” comes from the ancient Greek word “elaia,” which refers to olives. So essentially they are related.
Dogs are pack animals and naturally seek a leader. In the ideal situation, that’s YOU. Since it’s normal behavior for canines in the wilds to wait for the top dog to eat his or her portion before sharing the remainder, it’s up to you to choose what that remainder is. I know you’ll do what’s best for your pack! Exercise Your Pack Leader Power!