Cucumbers are a popular lean and green vegetable. Well, technically they’re considered fruits as they grow from flowers and contain seeds. We call them vegetables because of how they are used in the culinary world.
Apart from salads, we use cucumbers for healthy smoothies, sandwiches, and of course pickles. But can we share this super healthy vegetable with our dogs?
5 Awesome Benefits of Cucumbers for Dogs
Cucumber is completely safe for our dogs. In fact, you can use them as a healthy alternative to other conventional dog treats or biscuits. Most dogs enjoy the crunchy and refreshing texture of this vegetable.
But if you need more reasons to incorporate this delicious vegetable into your dog’s diet, let’s discuss the 5 amazing health benefits of feeding cucumber to your dog.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Cucumbers contain various flavonoids like apigenin, quercetin, kaempferol, and fisetin. These are naturally occurring antioxidant compounds that can protect your dog’s body from oxidation - a term used to describe the damage caused by free radicals.
This helps prevent the onset of various health conditions including respiratory and heart diseases.
The anti-inflammatory properties of antioxidants can help prevent eye problems like cataracts and blindness in dogs. In older dogs, it also supports joint health and the immune system.
2. Aids Digestive Health
Cucumber is a good source of dietary fiber that can aid your dog’s digestive health. It’s particularly rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that absorbs water in the digestive tract and moves slowly through the intestines to ensure the nutrients are being absorbed at a steady pace. This promotes bowel regularities, reduces diarrhea, and even helps prevent high cholesterol and diabetes.
A high-fiber diet can also help reduce the risk of various health conditions in your dog.
3. Contains Many Nutrients
Cucumber has an impressive nutrient profile. It contains vitamin C which is an important antioxidant and vitamin K which is needed for blood clotting or coagulation, an important process that helps reduce bleeding when injured. This vitamin is also required to prevent calcium deposits in the heart and arteries.
Apart from that, cucumber also contains essential minerals. They’re especially rich in potassium which supports muscle growth, cognitive function, and bone health.
In trace amounts, cucumber also contains magnesium and manganese both of which are important minerals required for the proper health and functioning of various organs in your dog’s body.
4. Provides Hydration
Cucumber is 95% water which makes them an ideal treat to promote hydration. You can feed a few small slices of chilled raw cucumber to your dog on a hot summer day after a play session or a walk. It’ll help rehydrate and re-energize their body.
But please remember that you still need to always provide fresh drinking water to avoid dehydration, especially during the summer.
5. Freshens The Breath
Cucumber is filled with phytonutrients and phytochemicals that can effectively kill bacteria in your dog’s mouth. It helps improve their oral hygiene and the smell of their breath.
However, you cannot substitute cucumber for a consistent oral hygiene routine that includes brushing their teeth regularly.
How to Feed a Cucumber to Dogs
Before you start feeding cucumber to your dog, consider the following tips:
While cucumber is a healthy food for your dogs, you should only feed it in small amounts. Ideally, you should follow the 90/10 rule that states 90% of the calories your dog eats come from a balanced diet and the remaining 10% from treats like cucumber.
You can also consult with your veterinarian to determine the right amount of cucumber you can add to your dog’s diet. They will be able to give you better advice depending on your dog's nutritional requirements and health condition.
What About Cucumber Skin & Seeds?
Many pet owners are confused about whether or not a dog can eat cucumber skin and seeds. There is no right or wrong answer here as both the cucumber skin and seeds aren’t toxic for a dog. But they’re not easily digestible which can lead to stomach problems, especially for dogs who have sensitive stomachs.
So if your dog has a history of stomach issues, it is recommended to peel the cucumber and remove the seeds before feeding.
Or else, you can try feeding a small slice of cucumber with the skin and seeds to see how your dog reacts. If it doesn’t lead to an upset stomach you can continue feeding them the cucumber with the skin and seeds.
Chop & Slice Before Serving
The first thing you should do is thoroughly wash the cucumber before feeding it to your dog, even if you plan to remove the skin. It’s because cucumbers often have a layer of wax on the skin to improve their shelf life. While the wax isn’t harmful, it can still trap bacteria. You can easily get rid of it by rinsing the cucumber under clean water.
You can also try to buy organic cucumbers to avoid harmful chemicals and toxins. But you should wash them properly too.
Now when it comes to actually feeding a cucumber to your dog, it might be tempting to give it to them whole or in large pieces, but it can be a choking hazard as they may take large bites.
It is recommended to always cut the cucumber into small bite-size pieces and serve on its own or use it as a meal topper.
If your dog is a picky eater, you can also try the following creative recipes to incorporate cucumber into their diet.
- Put some dog-friendly peanut butter or yogurt on top of small cucumber slices
- Puree the cucumber and freeze the mixture in a popsicle mold for a delicious summer treat
- Add some fresh cucumber slices to their water bowl to make infused cucumber water
Whatever recipe you try, make sure you don’t add any salt or seasoning to the cucumber as it can be harmful to your dog.
Stick to Raw Cucumber Only
Raw cucumbers are the best for your pup. Other options like pickled cucumbers contain ingredients like salt, vinegar, and spices which can be harmful to your dog’s health.
Also, avoid feeding them cucumbers from your cucumber salad as it might have onion, garlic, and other harmful seasonings in the dressing.
Can Eating Cucumbers be Dangerous for Dogs?
Cucumbers are safe for a dog and the only thing you should be concerned about is overfeeding. Eating too much of any food item including cucumbers can have an adverse effect on a dog’s health or can cause an upset stomach.
It is ideal that treats like cucumber don’t exceed the 10% calories in your dog’s diet. Or you can consult with your veterinarian to determine the right amount of cucumber to feed your dog.
Furthermore, if you’re feeding your dog cucumber for the first time you should be cautious of an allergic reaction. Although it’s rare, your pup can have an allergy or food intolerance toward cucumber.
Start with 1-2 slices and monitor their reaction for the next 24-48 hours. Look out for the following signs of an allergic reaction:
- Upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea
- Constant sneezing or licking
- Itchiness or hives
- Swelling around the face, ears, or lips
- Red or inflamed skin
- Itchy ears
- Itchy and runny eyes
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these signs after feeding cucumber to your dog.
Cucumber is a perfectly healthy and low-calorie treat for most dogs. It contains dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can help support their overall growth and wellness.
If you want to share this healthy treat with your dog, make sure you cut the cucumber into small slices so it's easier to chew and digest. Also, try to limit their intake to a few slices as too much cucumber will result in an upset stomach and diarrhea.
If you have any further doubts, you can consult with your veterinarian before feeding cucumbers to your dog.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about feeding cucumbers to a dog:
1. Can a dog eat pickled cucumber?
No, a dog shouldn’t eat pickled cucumbers as they contain other ingredients like salt, vinegar, and spices that can be harmful to your dog’s health.
2. Can a dog eat cucumbers with skin and seeds?
The skin and seeds of cucumber aren’t toxic for a dog. But they’re harder to digest and can lead to stomach problems for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Thus if your dog has a history of stomach issues, peel the cucumber and remove the seeds before feeding.
Or you can try feeding 1-2 slices of cucumber with the skin and seeds to see how your dog reacts. If this doesn’t lead to any stomach problems you can continue feeding them the cucumber with the skin and seeds.
3. How much cucumber can a dog eat?
Ideally treats like cucumber shouldn’t make up more than 10% of a dog’s daily calorie intake. But you can consult with a veterinarian to determine the exact amount of cucumber to feed your dog.