Can Dogs Eat Black Olives?

Written By: Gemma Johnstone | Last Updated: July 3, 2020

A bowl full with black olives

Black and green olives are popular appetizers, salad additions, or table snacks. But should you be worried if your dog snaffles one when you’re not looking? Read on to find out whether dogs can eat black olives.

Black olives have long been a favorite bar snack or appetizer. They contain healthy monounsaturated fats and lots of beneficial vitamins and minerals.

If your pooch grabs one during a dinner party, there’s probably no need to panic. Providing the pit has been removed, black olives are safe for dogs to eat in small quantities. They shouldn’t be a regular part of your dog’s diet, however, as they’re often high in salt.

Are Black Olives Toxic to Dogs?

The good news is that plain black olives aren’t toxic to dogs. It’s usually safe for your dog to eat them in moderation, assuming your pet doesn’t have an allergy.

There are a few reasons to be wary of  olives though – and they certainly shouldn’t be part of your dog’s daily diet. Here are the key concerns.

Pits Can Be Dangerous

While plain olives aren’t toxic, olive pits can be a choking hazard for your dog. They could also chip a tooth if your pet bites them.

For this reason, be careful to remove pits, or buy pitted dates, before allowing your dog to eat one.

Black Olives Have High Sodium Content

Most olives are cured in a brine solution. This means they have an unusually high salt content for a fruit. Although ripe black olives have a lower sodium content than green ones, eating too many could still have a negative impact on your dog.  

Sodium is an essential nutrient for dogs, but a diet that’s too high in this mineral can lead to dehydration, kidney disease, and heart disease. When consumed in excessive amounts, salt can also cause salt toxicity. This is a serious condition with symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, and even seizures.

It’s possible to buy unsalted olives, but these are rare. Raw, freshly picked olives retain a bitter taste that makes them unpalatable. Some jarred varieties, however, do have a reduced salt content.

Avoid Seasoned Olives

Jarred and pickled olives are sometimes coated or stuffed with other ingredients. Avoid giving seasoned or stuffed olives to your dog, as the extra ingredients could be dangerous.

Garlic, for example, is commonly added to olives and this is toxic to dogs. Onions or jalapeno peppers are two other examples that shouldn’t be given to dogs.

Are Black Olives Healthy for Dogs to Eat?

Although plain olives provide a number of nutritional benefits, they’re not a natural food source for dogs. Dogs should be fed a nutritionally complete dog food that’s formulated for canines, rather than relying on treats.

If your dog loves black olives, giving them as an occasional treat could provide some health benefits though:

  • Rich in Vitamin E. This vitamin is already found in most commercial pet foods, as it’s an essential part of a dogs diet. A little extra won’t do any harm, though, and black olives contain a lot. It’s particularly helpful for promoting a healthy skin and coat.
  • High quantities of copper. This vitamin helps dogs form red blood cells and maintain healthy bones, tissue and immune systems.
  • Contain polyphenols and flavonoids. These antioxidants have beneficial anti-inflammatory properties for dogs.
  • Monounsaturated fats. Olives might be high in fats, but it’s the good kind (primarily oleic acid.) This means olives could reduce the risk of heart disease and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Packed with calcium. An essential nutrient for dogs, calcium helps ensure they develop strong bones and teeth.

Any new food should be introduced gradually to monitor for allergies or intolerances. With a salty food like black olives, it’s best to seek advice from your vet or a qualified canine nutritionist. This is especially important if your dog has underlying health conditions.

How Many Olives Can Dogs Eat?

If you decide to give your dog black olives as a treat, don’t give them too many – even if you’ve bought a low-salt variety. One or two olives in a 24-hour period is more than enough, but cut them up to minimise choking hazards. You also shouldn’t feed them to your dog every day.

As already mentioned, watch out for signs of allergies or intolerances. Common signs of an allergic flare-up include itchy, irritated skin and gastric upsets. In severe cases, allergies can affect the respiratory system.

Note: Allergic reactions can sometimes occur immediately, but the symptoms can also take several days to appear. Contact a vet immediately if you notice any signs of an allergy.

Are Pitted Black Olives Safer?

Pitted olives have had their stone removed, saving you the hassle of removing it yourself.

However, sometimes a pit sneaks into a batch of pitted olives. This is another reason to always cut up olives before giving them to a dog – even if they are pitted.

Summary

Black and green olives are both non-toxic and safe for dogs to eat. That doesn’t mean they make an ideal treat for your dog though.

Olives contain a lot of salt, which can be bad for your dog. This is one of the reasons why olives should only be fed to a dog in small quantities and infrequently. You should also ensure that the pit has been removed and the olive has been cut into small pieces.

Avoid olives that have been stuffed or seasoned. Crushed garlic, jalapeno peppers, and other foods can be highly toxic to dogs.

About the Author

Gemma is a freelance writer and official dog nut. With 15 years of experience in the pet industry, she is a passionate animal welfare advocate. She has worked for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ran her own specialist dog shop for ten years, has volunteered for her local rescue shelter, and is studying towards completing an Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour. Gemma is currently travelling around Europe with her wonderful rescue dog, Annie.