Pretzels are probably right at the top of the list when you think of delicious, salty snacks. Lots of people love pretzels with some beer or a soft drink. That includes both the small hard pretzels you can buy at the grocery store and the soft, chewy pretzels that are more like bread. But what about your best four-legged friend? Can dogs eat pretzels? There’s good and bad news about pretzels and dogs.
Read more about whether you should share your pretzels with your dog in our short guide below.
There was a time when pretzels were promoted as something of a healthy snack because they are low in calories and baked instead of fried. It turns out that it’s a little more complicated.
Soft pretzels are low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol. But they are high in sodium. They have 10 percent protein, 8 percent fat, and 82 percent carbohydrates. They are a good source of many B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and B12. They are also high in iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and selenium.
The B vitamins in soft pretzels support the metabolism and help turn carbs into energy. Niacin also supports the body’s hormone balance.
Iron supports the metabolism and helps ensure that your tissues get the oxygen they need to function. Selenium neutralizes free radicals and helps keep the tissues healthy.
Soft pretzels can be a source of grain in the diet. However, about 84 percent of the calories from soft pretzels come from carbs.
Even with these benefits, soft pretzels are not recommended as a daily part of a human diet because they are made from refined grains instead of whole grains.
As for hard pretzels, they are low in calories and low-fat. They also provide some B vitamins and iron, like soft pretzels. One ounce (a serving) of hard pretzels contains about 109 calories. It contains about 22.8 grams of carbohydrates – that includes 1 gram of fiber and 0.6 grams of naturally occurring sugars. The rest of the carbs come from starch.
Hard pretzels are low in saturated fat so they can be a healthier snack option than some other foods such as potato chips which are often fried. Potato chips are often high in saturated fat.
Hard pretzels have many of the same health benefits as soft pretzels but they also have some health risks.
Wheat allergies are possible when eating pretzels because they are made with refined (wheat) flour.
Pretzels are high in sodium. Pretzels contain 352 milligrams of sodium, or 23 percent of the ideal daily limit. The daily limit for sodium is no more than 2,300 milligrams, with an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams daily for most adults (especially those with high blood pressure), according to the American Heart Association. Sodium plays a role in blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer, and chronic kidney disease.
Hard pretzels have a high glycemic index value. Their carbohydrates are broken down and absorbed quickly, leaving you feeling hungry again. Eating a lot of them can lead to weight gain.
In moderation and paired with healthy foods, both soft pretzels and hard pretzels can be good for you. However, it’s important to be mindful of how many pretzels you eat and how often.
Should You Give Your Dog Pretzels?
The good news about pretzels is that they are not toxic to dogs. Unfortunately, they are normally sprinkled with lots of salt which is not good for your dog.
The salt in pretzels can lead to sodium poisoning (hypernatremia) if your dog eats too much. The amount it takes to affect a dog depends on his size and other factors but it’s a possibility. This is true not just with pretzels but with other salty foods such as potato chips that you might be tempted to share with your dog. It’s even more likely to occur if your dog isn’t used to eating any salty foods. Your dog’s system becomes dehydrated, his sodium levels are unbalanced, and his system can’t flush out the salt.
According to sources we consulted, signs of toxicity are expected after ingestion of 2-3g of sodium/kg bodyweight and ingestion of 4g/kg is considered lethal. Salt poisoning in dogs is rare but it can occur. A standard, one-ounce serving of hard pretzels (about 53 pretzels, depending on the shape and configuration) has about 352-359 milligrams of sodium. Most dogs would have to eat a LOT of pretzels in order to experience salt poisoning, but you still need to be careful.
Signs of salt poisoning include:
- Swelling or fluid accumulation
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Tremors & seizures
Call your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has eaten too much salt.
All of these things mean that yes, dogs can eat pretzels, but you need to be careful that you don’t let your dog have too many. You need to avoid any fancy pretzels that have special toppings or seasonings such as garlic, onion, or other things that could be harmful to dogs. For pretzels with sweet toppings, you need to avoid giving your dog anything with chocolate, macadamia nuts, raisins, or nutmeg. Some sweet pretzels are even made using the sweetener xylitol which is toxic to dogs.
Plain pretzels are best, if you plan to share some with your dog. And, if you can find some that are lower in salt, that’s even better.
Do not load up a soft pretzel with mustard, ketchup, or other condiments and let your dog eat the pretzel. You’re likely asking for trouble if you do. Many of these condiments can make your dog feel like vomiting if he wolfs down the pretzel.
How Many Pretzels Can You Give Your Dog?
The number of small, hard pretzels you give your dog depends on his size. Pretzels also come in different shapes and sizes. It’s best not to let your dog have more than a few pretzels at any one time.
As for the big, chewy pretzels, you could cut or tear a small piece of the pretzel to share with your dog but don’t let your dog have a lot.
Remember that small dogs will be more susceptible to any problems than big dogs so keep the number of pretzels smaller for them.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Pretzels?
You shouldn’t give your dog pretzels on a regular basis because of the salt. You can give a few as an occasional treat. They do not make a good choice as a training treat. Choose a healthier treat if you are looking for a reward for training.
The biggest drawback to letting your dog have pretzels is the salt content. Salt poisoning is rare but it is a possibility. If your dog steals a bag of pretzels and eats the whole contents, call your veterinarian right away. Otherwise, you can share a few hard pretzels with your dog occasionally or let him have a small bite of your soft pretzel. Pretzels are not the most nutritious snack for you or your dog but a small number (depending on your dog’s size) should not do any harm as long as they don’t have any additives that are dangerous to dogs.