Can Dogs Eat Pretzels Safely?

Nova scotia duck tolling retriever dog holding a pretzel in its mouth.

Pretzels are famous for being a bagel-like snack that somehow got themselves tied into a knot. You love them — they’re your guilty pleasure — and you want your dog to bask in their glory as well. But the question remains: How safe are they? With all of the snacks out there today like Cheetos, chips, and popcorn, you’d be crazy not to worry about the risks involved with feeding your canine anything but kibble.

However, the question of whether or not it’s safe to feed your dog pretzels can’t be answered with a simple yes or no.

Are pretzels toxic? No. Will making them a part of your dog’s regular diet present problems? Yes.

In this article, you will learn about the dangers of implementing pretzels into your dog’s diet, the problems with giving him too much salt, and some healthier alternatives should you choose to go that route. 

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An Intro To Pretzels

One of the easiest things to do as a pet owner is to toss down something tasty in front of our dog without thinking about the fact that they can’t digest food like we can. Their digestive system is so different from that of humans that they almost can’t be compared.

A dog trying to eat garlic.

Science shows that only a small amount of garlic could be healthy for dogs.

For example, dogs can’t chew side to side and the majority of them can’t digest carbs. Additionally, many of the foods we enjoy not only greatly harm our dog but can be lethal. This is especially true for foods containing garlic and onion powder, as well as the absolute no-go artificial sweetener xylitol, which is most commonly found in chocolate. 

This is where pretzels enter the playing field.  If you’re looking for good news here it is: Pretzels, by themselves, are not toxic to your canine. However, this doesn’t mean they are good for him either. Pretzels rarely come just by themselves.

The Problem With Pretzels

For starters, if you decide to feed your dog pretzels, you would just be giving him something new to taste. This is because pretzels offer no nutritional benefit to your dog. As you could’ve probably guessed, pretzels come with a high salt and sodium content. While a small amount won’t harm your dog, consistently adding the two into your dog’s diet will cause much bigger problems. This is why PetMD has pretzels listed as “Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat.” What else is on that list? Xylitol, dairy products, raw fish, and onions, and garlic. 

Why Your Dog Should Avoid Too Much Salt

An excessive amount of salt in your dog’s diet can cause a plethora of problems — none of which you want to see happen. That’s not to say you should remove salt from his diet completely. Salt is a natural substance your dog needs to thrive.  It’s all about balance. 

There are a few things that will happen if your dog consumes too much salt. First, he will drink an excessive amount of water to fight the effects that the salt is taking on his body. This is what you want to happen because the likelihood of no damage being done is much greater.

Problems start occurring if there is a lack of a water source. Without water, your dog’s body cells will begin to release water to balance the levels of salt in his blood. This is likely to cause headaches, dizziness, and possibly seizures.  Hypernatremia is the medical term for when there’s too much salt in the blood. Without the immediate refreshment of water, dehydration is a common occurrence. Dehydration has many serious effects, they include:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting
  • Faster heartbeat

To relieve you just a bit: A small bite of a pretzel isn’t going to throw your dog’s body out of whack. It’s overindulgence that’s going to put too much salt in his blood. 

While too much salt can ring hazardous in the present, it can also be the beginning of bigger, more complicated problems. Heart disease, most notably.

Young female veterinarian doctor examining Shih tzu dog with stethoscope

Dogs showing signs of heart disease may have a history of exercise intolerance, weakness, coughing, and difficulty breathing.

Heart Disease As A Long-Term Effect

Giving your dog one bite of a pretzel today isn’t going to give him heart disease tomorrow. It’s the frequent repetition of feeding him salty foods that will inevitably lead to this disease. The importance of a balanced diet can’t be stressed enough. Dogs can run into contact with heart disease just like we can, and heart disease is a common disease that is impacted by what you’re feeding your dog

Heart disease is somewhat of an extension of too much salt being in your dog’s blood. The difference, however, lies in how the different parts of his body react to this. When it comes to his heart, the increase in salt causes water retention in the blood vessels.

This, in turn, causes elevated blood pressure. With the increase in blood pressure, the heart must grow to overcome the increase to do its job: pumping blood. Now, unless you are adamant about giving your dog pretzels, the good news is that there are healthy alternatives you could opt for when it comes to snack time.

Healthy Alternatives To Pretzels

Your dog enjoys snack time just as much — if not more — than you do. He will gladly eat anything you choose to give him. Since pretzels don’t possess the most attractive qualities, here are some healthy options that can be great for your dog:

  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potatoes

Tying The Knot

While we love a good pretzel now and then, whether store-bought or right off of a New York City street cart, the truth is that they aren’t the best for our dogs. As mentioned, your dog’s digestive system can’t tolerate many of the things ours can, so it’s important to be sure to feed him foods within those restrictions. 

Believe it not, pretzels aren’t the only snack item you need to think twice about before giving to your dog. There are many more out there such as the most popular pizza topping of all: pepperoni. Knowing what you can and can’t feed your dog is the only way to ensure he maintains a healthy lifestyle for years to come.

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Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.