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When your dog looks up at you with those “what about me” eyes while you are sacking on a pretzel, it is natural to ask yourself whether it is OK to give your pup a pretzel to snack on.
So, can you give your dog pretzels? The small, hard type or the larger, more traditional American baked type? The short answer is no.
While eating the occasional plain pretzel once in a blue moon won’t hurt your dog, it is not a good idea to give your dog pretzels.
This is principally because these treats are very high in salt, which your dog is not as accustomed to digesting and processing as you. They can suffer from salt poisoning if they consume a little too much.
But even more worrying are flavored pretzels. Are you eating a pretzel flavored with onion or garlic? Both of these are toxic to dogs. What about some festive chocolate-coated pretzels? Also a no-no.
Let’s take a closer look at why you shouldn’t be feeding your dog pretzels, or other salty treats, and the impact excess salt can have on their health.
Let’s also take a look at some of the more dangerous ingredients you should look out for when it comes to flavored pretzels.
But, long story short, if you want to treat your dog, treat them with snacks especially designed and made for them.
Contents & Quick Navigation
- Why You Need To Limit Your Dog’s Salt Intake
- What Happens If Your Dog Eats Too Much Salt?
- Salt Poisoning Symptoms
- Salt Poisoning Treatment
- Potentially Poisonous Ingredients In Pretzels
- What About Salt-Free Pretzels?
- Best Treats For Dogs
- The Verdict
- Save To Pinterest
- Top Picks For Our Dogs
Why You Need To Limit Your Dog’s Salt Intake
The main reason you shouldn’t feed your dog pretzels, either the traditional American type or the small baked type, is their salt content.
A medium-sized pretzel contains 1,615 mg of sodium, which is pretty close to the recommended daily limit for adults, which in the United States is 2,300 mg per day.
A single hard pretzel contains around 40 mg of sodium, so a handful contains a lot of salt.
And that is a lot of salt for you; your dog can tolerate even less. The exact amount of salt they can handle depends on their size, but a 33-pound dog shouldn’t be eating more than 100 mg of salt per day.
What Happens If Your Dog Eats Too Much Salt?
If your dog eats a little too much salt, they will probably just feel quite thirsty, and they will drink more water that will help dilute the sodium in their body.
They might need to go to the bathroom a bit more often as a result of their drinking, which might be a bit inconvenient for you, but still, nothing serious.
However, if your dog eats a lot of salt within a short period of time, its body will start to release water in an attempt to balance out the salt in the blood.
This can cause serious and immediate dehydration, which can have the effect of destroying brain cells due to a lack of water. This can manifest in neurological symptoms such as dizziness, headache, and seizures.
The muscles can suffer from similar dehydration, which can manifest in involuntary spasms.
If your dog can’t hydrate themselves immediately, they will likely display symptoms such as a fast heartbeat, fainting, confusion, and respiratory problems.
If your dog consumes a large amount of salt, and it is not possible to dilute the amount of salt in its body quickly, it can be fatal.
Salt Poisoning Symptoms
While we have already discussed the main symptom of salt poisoning, the potential symptoms can be varied. A complete list of potential symptoms is provided below.
- Extreme thirst
- Excessive urination
- Fluid buildup
- High fever
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle spasms
- Respiratory issues
- Stomach pains
- Tongue swelling
Salt Poisoning Treatment
If your dog suffers from a serious case of salt poisoning, then they will most likely need to be given oxygen, as well as fluids and electrolytes via IV.
This will be used to gradually bring down their salt levels, as lowering levels too quickly can cause a heart attack or brain swelling.
This process can take several days depending on the seriousness of the sodium poisoning.
As part of recuperation, they will need to stick to a low sodium diet, and your vet will probably want to monitor their salt levels for a number of months.
Potentially Poisonous Ingredients In Pretzels
If your dog steals a piece of pretzel or gobbles down two or three pretzel biscuits, it is not good for them, but these treats probably don’t contain so much salt that they can’t manage it by drinking water.
But this only applies to plain pretzels. If you are a fan of flavored pretzels, they are often flavored with ingredients that are not good for your dog.
In this case, you need to worry about other types of poisoning.
Here are the most serious ingredients that are toxic to dogs to look out for.
Garlic And Onions
While you might love a delicious onion and garlic flavored pretzel, there are few things that could be worse for your dog.
They both belong to the allium species of plants, which are poisonous to dogs.
Not only can they cause your dog an immediate stomach upset, but over time, it can damage their red blood cells and lead to anemia.
Chocolate-coated pretzels might be the worst of all the pretzels for your dog to snack on.
Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs because coca contains a compound called theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs.
In a mild case of chocolate poisoning, your dog will probably develop diarrhea and vomiting, become restless, and suffer from an increased heart rate. If it is more serious, sadly, it can result in death.
How much chocolate your dog can tolerate depends on its size and breed. The best thing you can do if you suspect your dog has eaten a chocolate pretzel is to consult your vet. They can advise you on what symptoms to look out for.
Raisins Or Sultanas
If your pretzel is flavored with raisins or sultanas, keep it very far away from your dog. Grapes, including the dried varieties, can cause kidney failure in dogs.
Researchers aren’t sure what exactly it is about grapes that don’t agree with dogs, and it doesn’t seem to affect all dogs consistently.
But considering the serious consequences for your dog, if they do get a bad grape, it is not worth the risk. Watch your pup carefully if you suspect that they have eaten a pretzel with raisins.
Many dogs struggle with lactose intolerance because they lack the required enzymes to digest dairy. This is the reason that a cheesy pretzel might not be a good idea.
You probably already know if your dog has issues with dairy from things that you have fed them in the past. This should influence how worried you should get if your dog gobbles down a cheesy pretzel.
If they do have issues, they will probably have a few days of digestive distress while their body tries to manage the cheese and salt.
What About Salt-Free Pretzels?
It is the salt and other flavors added to pretzels that represent a serious threat to dogs, so can you feed your dog plain, salt-free pretzels.
Well, yes, you can, but why would you?
The remaining doughy pretzel is full of carbohydrates, which your dog should be eating in limited amounts. The majority of their calories should be coming from animal-based proteins and healthy fats, and they should limit their carbohydrate intake as dogs have a tendency to store this as fat.
A pretzel as a treat doesn’t offer your dog anything of nutritional value and is basically just empty calories that can disrupt the healthy balance of your dog’s diet.
So, while you could feed your dog a plain, flavorless pretzel, you would be significantly better off feeding them treats that are designed specifically for them.
Best Treats For Dogs
Rather than giving dogs your food as a treat, you should make sure you have dog treats on hand to give your dog. They’ll love them, they won’t contain any nasties, and they even offer great nutritional value.
Here are our picks of the five best dog treats you can buy on Chewy today.
These treats are ideal for dogs because they are made from 85% animal protein, which is the most important component of your pup’s diet. Plus, they will love the genuine meaty smell and taste.
Each treat contains just 21 calories, so they won’t ruin your dog’s diet and are great for training.
They come in a variety of flavors including beef liver, turkey liver, and pork liver.
This is another high-protein and low-calorie treat, which is ideal for training your dog without undermining the balance of their diet.
They start with real meat as their first ingredient, which is beef, chicken, or lamb, and it is bulked out with chicken meal.
Each treat contains just 27 calories and is balanced, offering 30% protein and 15% fat.
These treats made by Rachel Ray are made according to the philosophy of the company, which means fresh organic ingredients and no grains.
There are a number of varieties available, including “meatball morsels” beef treats and “savory roasters” chicken treats.
Each treat contains just 22 calories and they can also easily be broken up into smaller treats as required.
The Full Moon Kitchen makes a great range of chicken treats that dogs will love. Choose from chicken jerky, chicken strips, and chicken nuggets, all made from human-grade chicken.
The resulting treats are very high in protein but also pretty high in calories, with 49 calories per treat. Feed your pup these treats in moderation, and break them up into smaller pieces for smaller dogs.
If you are keen to give your dog the benefits of raw foods, but aren’t keen on a completely raw food diet, then these freeze-dried traits are a great option.
The chicken treats are made simply from pure, human-grade chicken breast, preserved simply through the process of freeze-drying with nothing else added.
Cut slim, each treat contains just three calories, so you can give them to your pup with peace of mind.
What happens if dogs eat pretzels?
If your dog steals a small pretzel biscuit or a small piece of your American pretzel, they will probably feel quite thirsty because of the large amounts of salt in the treat, but nothing more.
However, if your dog manages to get their hands on more, they are at a high risk of suffering from sodium toxicity.
This can cause serious neurological issues due to the dehydration of the brain cells and they should be taken to the doctor immediately for an IV to slowly and safely lower their sodium toxicity.
Can dogs eat pretzels with no salt?
If a pretzel has no salt, and no other potentially toxic ingredients such as onion, garlic, or chocolate, then the pretzel doesn’t pose a particular risk to your dog.
However, it also doesn’t contain anything of nutritional value for them, and it is high in carbohydrates, and dogs tend to turn excess carbs into fat.
If you want to treat your dog, you are better off feeding them a doggy treat that is specially made for them.
How much salt is safe for dogs?
How much salt a dog can tolerate depends on both its size and its breed. Nevertheless, as a general rule, in a healthy diet, a dog should be eating no more than 0.25 mg of salt per pound of their body weight.
If your dog eats the equivalent of 1.5 mg per pound, this can cause enough toxicity to kill them if left untreated.
This is why you should never cook with salt when preparing food for your dog. Plus, while it may improve the flavor of the food for you, your dog probably doesn’t feel the same way. It is an unnecessary cooking ingredient for pups.
Can dogs eat cheerios?
Cheerios are a low-sugar and low-salt breakfast cereal, so they aren’t dangerous for your dog to eat.
However, they also don’t offer much in terms of nutritional value as they are made principally from whole oats, which are not essential in a dog’s diet.
In short, these are just empty calories for your dog, which might encourage them to put on unnecessary weight.
Can dogs have cheese?
Just like people, some dogs are lactose intolerant and some aren’t. Some dogs have the necessary enzymes to digest cheese and enjoy it, while others don’t. I’m one of those dogs…errr…humans…
So, whether your dog can have cheese depends on which of these categories they fall into.
You can experiment with giving your dog a small amount of cheese. If they are lactose intolerant, they will probably vomit it up or suffer from diarrhea, but there should be no permanent alarm and you will know for future whether or not to steer clear of dairy.
If you are enjoying a pretzel and your dog looks over at you with hungry eyes, it is best not to share your treat with them; rather give them one of their own special doggy treats.
This is because pretzels contain a lot of salt, and dogs have a significantly lower tolerance for sodium than you do. Even just a mouthful of an American-style pretzel can push them to their limit.
Excessive sodium can cause serious neurological damage, and if it is serious enough and not treated in time, it can result in death.
More than this, if you are eating a flavored pretzel, it might contain other ingredients that are toxic for your pup. The most likely culprits are onion, garlic, chocolate, raisins, or cheese. These can all cause your dog serious problems.
While your dog may be your best friend, it is important to remember that they are built a little differently, so they need to eat differently. This is the main reason that it is never a good idea to feed your dog food off your own plate.
If you want to treat them, give them a special doggy treat.
Have you dealt with salt poisoning in a pup before?
Share your experience with the community in the comments sections below.
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Top Picks For Our Dogs
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack - Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
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We Like: KONG Extreme - Great toy for heavy chewers like our Labrador Retrievers.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
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We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.
For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the PuppyInTraining.com blog.