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Can Dogs Eat Capers? Vet-Reviewed Nutrition Facts & FAQ

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on July 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

Capers fruit on clear glass bowl

Can Dogs Eat Capers? Vet-Reviewed Nutrition Facts & FAQ


Dr. Ashley Darby Photo


Dr. Ashley Darby

BVSc (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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You love your dog, so you want to give them treats every now and again, and sometimes those treats are your own food. A lot of the time, depending on the food, this is (mostly) fine for your pet. But if you don’t do your research before giving people food to your dog, you could wind up giving them food that makes them ill or is even deadly.

If you’re a fan of Mediterranean cuisine and have a jar of capers lying around, you may wonder if this food is safe for your pet. The answer is no. Although capers aren’t toxic to canines, the pickling or brining process they go through makes them unhealthy! Here’s what to know about canines and capers.

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What Is a Caper?

If you’re unfamiliar with the caper, here’s the low-down. This food is technically a flower—or at least, capers are the buds of a flower called the Capparis spinosa. This plant grows in the Mediterranean region, and the capers that come from it are often used to garnish dishes. The buds are picked, dried, and then pickled, giving them a salty, intense flavor.

Capparis spinosa
Photo by Emmanuel Cassar, Unsplash

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Why Can’t Dogs Eat Capers?

Since capers aren’t toxic to canines, why can they not eat them? The reason is that this food is pickled. Pickling involves brine, which is immensely salty, making it high in sodium. Dogs and an overabundance of sodium don’t mix well.

While our furry pals do require some sodium in their diets, consuming too much can cause dehydration in the best of cases and salt toxicity (very rare) in the worst of cases. To put this in perspective a 5-pound dog would need to eat 3-4 ounces of capers to be at risk of serious signs. That corresponds to just under an ounce of capers per pound of body weight. We hope your dog hasn’t ingested that much!

Dangers of Feeding Capers to Dogs

Feeding capers to your dog presents one main problem: the amount of sodium this food contains. Capers have around 2.3% salt. Capers are pickled in a heavily salted brine, leading to a considerable amount of sodium in these tiny buds. If a canine consumes too much sodium, it could lead to dehydration.

While capers will not realistically lead to severe signs of salt toxicity, it is a good idea to know the signs of this situation because dogs get into everything and anything!

These signs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Excessive thirst
  • Less appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive urination
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Small breed dogs can handle far less sodium than large breeds, so even a few capers may be enough to cause mild dehydration or a stomach upset in these guys. If your dog has had one caper, you probably don’t need to worry but you should look for signs of gastrointestinal upset.

veterinarian checking up on dogue de bordeaux dog
Image Credit: maxbelchenko, Shutterstock

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What Can I Give My Dog Instead of Capers?

While dog treats will always be your best bet when you want to treat your pup (the less processed, the better!), there are some human foods you can give your dog. Just remember to give these (and all other treats) in moderation, as your pup gets all the calories and nutrients they require from their dog food. Too many treats simply count as extra calories and will lead to weight gain.

What people foods are better for your dog than capers?

Some dog-safe treats include:
  • Cooked sweet potatoes
  • Apples with the seeds removed
  • Watermelon without rind
  • Bananas
  • Cooked squash
  • Broccoli
  • Cooked pumpkin
  • Peanut butter with no added salt/sugar and no xylitol
  • Green beans

Always double-check before giving your pup any human food to ensure it’s safe, though!

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If you’ve been considering giving capers to your dog, don’t! Capers aren’t toxic to canines, but the amount of sodium they contain can cause gastrointestinal upset and dehydration. Even a few capers could cause a stomach upset in a smaller dog, so completely avoid giving this food to your dog. If you want to give your pup a treat, stick to either treats made for dogs or human food that’s dog-friendly.


Featured Image Credit: Nico M., Unsplash

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