Are Olives Safe for Dogs to Eat?
A lot of people like to share a piece of food with their dog. These are the people who tend to break off a piece of anything they are eating and give it to their canine friend. For the most part, there is nothing wrong with this practice, but you do have to be careful. Although dogs can eat most of the same things that we do, there are also certain foods that can do serious harm to them. That's why we have to ask ourselves this question: Are olives safe for dogs to eat?
Are Olives Toxic To Dogs?
According to every source we can find, olives are not toxic to dogs in any way. We cannot find a single documented instance in which a dog was harmed by eating olives. You may worry that olives are a little like grapes, but they are not. In case you don't know what we are talking about, grapes are toxic to dogs. That being said, most dogs can eat one or two grapes without a problem. Olives, on the other hand, are not toxic to dogs in any amount. Theoretically, your dog can eat as many olives as you want to give them, but that doesn't mean you should go overboard.
Olives may not be toxic to dogs, but that doesn't mean that they make an ideal treat. In fact, olives are a poor choice for a dog treat for several reasons. Some people say that olives will upset a dog's stomach if too many are eaten, although we are talking about a minor issue here. Still, it goes to show that the canine body can only process so many of these things at one time.
Olives also have a pit in the middle (unless you buy de-pitted olives), and this pit does actually pose a threat to your dog. For one thing, there is an obvious choking hazard. For another thing, many fruit pits contain substances that are toxic to dogs. Olives are technically classified as a "stone fruit," which is a term for any fruit with a hard, woody centre pit.
The main component of an olive pit is lignin, a component that is also found in wood. We cannot digest this, just as we cannot digest a piece of wood, and dogs are no different. Because it cannot be digested, an olive pit will simply pass through your dog's system and end up in a pile of dog poo. Even if they do not choke on the pit, they can cause some serious digestive problems.
If you've ever handled an olive pit, you know that they will often have sharp edges. These could potentially cut your small intestines as they pass through, and a dog won't be able to tell you about their discomfort. In some places, it is traditional to eat the pits. However, the intestinal tract of a dog is smaller than ours, so those sharp edges become even more of a problem.
Why Olives Aren't A Good Dog Treat
As you have probably noticed, most of the potential dangers of this fruit come from the pit. Since most people don't eat the pit, one might think that the rest of the fruit is okay, right? Sadly, this is not necessarily the case. While olives won't kill your dog (and probably won't make them ill), we have to question why anyone would choose this as a dog treat.
For one thing, most dogs don't seem to take any particular liking to the olive. Many dogs will eat it, but that's probably just because it is salty and available. Considering that dogs are sometimes known to eat their own faeces, we can tell that they aren't generally picky about what they eat.
For another thing, the pits present certain risks that we have already covered. However, let's assume for a minute that you are only feeding pitted olives to your dog. There is still one little problem: Olives are a highly processed food, and that means a lot of additives.
During the pickling/canning process, olives are soaked in brine (salty water) for a variety of reasons. In its natural state, the olive is basically an inedible fruit. It contains large amounts of a substance called oleuropein, which gives it an intensely bitter taste. When you realize this, you have to wonder why people first decided to cultivate this fruit. The obvious answer is olive oil since olives contain so much of that oil in all parts of the fruit.
It was the Romans who first discovered that you can add lye to the brine solution and speed up the process dramatically. Using brine alone, it takes months to produce a batch of olives. The addition of lye as a catalyst (something that speeds up a chemical reaction) allowed them to be produced in hours. Needless to say, olives were definitely considered to be a luxury food before that time.
In the case of black olives, they are treated even more. After ripening, they are treated with a solution of ferrous gluconate. The iron in this substance will oxidise (which basically means it will rust) and the result is a dark black colour. Although ferrous gluconate is not toxic or particularly dangerous, this still makes the olive a lot more processed than other fruits.
Nutritional Value Of Olives
If olives were highly nutritious, there would be some argument for giving it to dogs as a treat. However, when we look at the nutritional profile for this fruit, we don't see anything all that impressive. An olive consists mostly of carbs, fats, and water. In fact, an olive is about 80% water.
At the same time, vitamins are high in vitamin E and contain numerous antioxidants. Most of these are classified as "good fats" (like the omega fatty acids), so these fruits are not without nutrient value. However, there are far better choices out there that offer similar nutrient profiles.
Digestion Issues in Dogs
As olives aren't the best snack for dogs they could cause digestive issues if this happens to look to use our all natural digestive enzymes for dogs.
Although your dog certainly won't keel over and die from eating olives, it would be hard to say that these things are healthy for them. All that fat and salt aren't desirable, and the choking hazards can be severe. In the end, you would do better to choose a less-processed type of fruit or vegetable if you want a high-nutrient treat for your canine friend.
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