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Why won’t my dog eat a pretzel?

It’s not uncommon for dog owners to offer their furry friends human foods as treats, but some foods are safer than others. Pretzels may seem like an innocent snack to share with your pup, but there are a few reasons why your dog may turn their nose up at this salty treat.

Pretzels are high in salt

One of the main reasons dogs tend to avoid pretzels is that they contain a lot of salt. While humans can tolerate higher amounts of sodium in their diets, too much salt can be harmful to dogs.

According to the ASPCA, a good general guideline is that dog treats should contain no more than around 100 mg of sodium per ounce. Pretzels can contain over 500 mg per ounce, making them a very high sodium snack.

Eating too many salty treats like pretzels can cause excessive thirst and urination in dogs. In severe cases, a very high salt intake can lead to sodium ion poisoning, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.

Recommended daily sodium intake for dogs

  • Small dogs: less than 100 mg
  • Medium dogs: less than 200 mg
  • Large dogs: less than 300 mg

It’s best to avoid feeding your dog too many high-sodium snacks like pretzels to keep their salt intake at a healthy level.

Pretzels may contain unhealthy fats

In addition to being high in salt, some types of pretzels are also cooked in unhealthy oils, which can contain a lot of saturated fat. Hard pretzels are typically cooked in vegetable oil, while soft pretzels may be deep fried in unhealthier fats like shortening or lard.

Too much fat is difficult for dogs to digest and can cause pancreatitis, which is a painful inflammation of the pancreas. Dogs with pancreatitis may show symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite and abdominal pain.

To avoid exposing your dog to excess fat, stick to low-fat treats that are specifically made for canine consumption. Look for treats baked with minimal vegetable oil rather than deep fried options.

Pretzels are low in nutrients

Compared to treats formulated for dogs, human foods like pretzels generally don’t provide much nutritional value. Pretzels are mainly just simple carbohydrates and salt without much protein, healthy fats, vitamins or minerals.

While an occasional pretzel won’t harm your dog as part of a balanced diet, they lack the nutrients dogs need from high-quality, species-appropriate treats and meals. It’s best to feed your dog treats and foods designed especially for their dietary requirements.

Healthy homemade treat options

If you want to share homemade treats with your dog, try these healthy recipes:

  • Baked salmon or chicken
  • Banana peanut butter bites
  • Baby carrots
  • Apple slices
  • Plain boiled chicken or lean beef

These provide protein, vitamins and minerals without unhealthy additives.

Pretzels have a strange texture

Your dog may simply dislike the unique hard, dry and crispy texture of a pretzel. Most dog treats and foods have a softer, chewier mouthfeel that canines find more palatable.

The holes and convoluted shape of pretzels also differ a lot from the simpler kibble and biscuit shapes dogs are used to. This unfamiliar texture and shape could make pretzels unappealing to some pups.

Your dog may have dental issues

If your dog is refusing not just pretzels but also their regular hard treats and kibble, dental problems could be the cause. Issues like damaged teeth, gum disease and mouth pain may make crunchy foods uncomfortable to eat.

Signs your dog may have dental issues include:

  • Bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Drooling
  • Chewing mostly on one side
  • Difficulty eating
  • Pawing at their mouth

Schedule a vet visit if you notice any of these symptoms so your pup can get appropriate treatment. Soft foods and treats will likely be more comfortable for them while their mouth heals.

Your dog isn’t hungry

In some cases, a dog may refuse treats simply because they aren’t hungry enough to want them at that time. This is especially likely right after mealtimes when your pup is already full.

Make sure you are offering treats at times when your dog is likely to have a healthy appetite, such as before their regular meals. You can also try enticing your dog with a very small piece of a highly valued treat like chicken or cheese.

Your dog is anxious or distracted

An anxious, excited or distracted dog may be too preoccupied to focus on eating a treat. Some potential sources of stress or distraction for dogs include:

  • Loud noises like thunder, fireworks or traffic
  • Unfamiliar people or animals nearby
  • Smells and sounds from other pets or wildlife
  • Yard work like mowing or construction

If your dog refuses treats in situations like these, try offering something extra tasty and smelly like hot dog pieces to capture their attention. You can also work on treat training in a quiet indoor area to build their confidence.

Your dog doesn’t like the flavor

Some picky pups just don’t like certain tastes and smells no matter what. The unique flavor of pretzels – salty, savory, yeasty and malty – may not be palatable to your individual dog.

Experiment with treats in different flavor categories to find ones your dog likes best. Offer small samples of treats that are sweet, meaty, cheesy, nutty or fruit-flavored to determine your dog’s preferences.

Common flavor preferences

Flavor Example Treats
Sweet Banana chips, blueberries
Savory/umami Dried fish, beef liver
Cheesy String cheese, spray cheese
Meaty Beef jerky, chicken chips

Rotate treats in your dog’s preferred flavors to add variety.


While the odd pretzel likely won’t harm your dog, there are many good reasons why dogs may turn up their noses at this salty snack. From dental problems to distractions to simply disliking the taste, your dog may have personal reasons for avoiding pretzels.

For their health and enjoyment, stick with high-quality treats made just for canines. Pay attention to your individual dog’s flavor preferences and feed treats in appropriate portions and at times when your dog is hungry and focused.

With patience, you can find healthy treats your dog loves that will make training and bonding enjoyable for both of you!