Caring for your dog is by no means a walk in the park! Knowing which foods your dog can and can’t eat is one of the most important things about being a dog owner.
Dogs are naturally curious about different foods, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility for them to snatch up a quick snack without you noticing. Other times, you may feed your dog a snack without realizing that it could be harmful for him.
Thankfully, there are lots of so-called ‘human’ foods that dogs can safely enjoy. In fact, many dog owners are surprised to learn how varied their dog’s diet can be when they add in fruits, vegetables, and other foods that we don’t normally consider feeding dogs.
The trick is to know what’s good and what isn’t.
One vegetable that you may not have considered feeding your dog is cucumber! Cucumbers belong to the gourd family of plants and are enjoyed in cuisines all over the world. There are three main varieties of cucumber: slicing cucumber, pickling, and seedless. We humans love a bit of cucumber in our salads or side dishes—but are cucumbers safe for dogs to eat?
Are cucumbers healthy for dogs?
Yes! Cucumbers are a safe, healthy treat for dogs of all ages. They’re not only deliciously crunchy, but also super low in calories. They're also naturally low in carbohydrates, sodium, fat and cholesterol. Best of all, cucumbers contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that can benefit your dog’s health.
Fresh cucumbers are made up of about 96% water, which can help top up your dog’s hydration levels on a hot summer’s day. Cucumbers also contain vitamin C, which can contribute to your dog’s immune health. Dogs make their own vitamin C, but a little extra doesn’t hurt! It’s an important antioxidant that can help protect his cells from harmful free radicals.
Cucumbers contain vitamin K, which helps promote the production of the protein needed for stabilizing calcium in the bones. It also activates the body’s blood-clotting mechanisms and supports bone health.
Potassium and magnesium are also useful components of cucumbers. These important electrolytes are required for healthy nerve impulses and also help with brain and muscle function.
Can cucumbers be dangerous for dogs?
As with any food, feeding your dog too many cucumbers in one sitting can cause digestive issues. Be sure to give him only small amounts at a time, and only on occasion.
Choking on cucumber is another potential risk. Cucumbers can be quite crisp when fresh, and dogs don’t always chew their food properly. Cut the vegetable down to small, bite-sized chunks to prevent your dog from getting a piece stuck in his throat. Never feed him a whole cucumber.
It’s also important to note the ingredients used in processed cucumber products. Cucumbers can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, but not all of them are good for dogs.
Pickled cucumbers are a definite no-no. Pickling involves adding salt, sugar, preservatives, and various other ingredients that may disagree with your dog. Some also contain garlic and onion, which can cause gastrointestinal upset.
The best way to prepare cucumber for your dog
There are lots of great ways to feed your dog cucumber so that he can enjoy them safely. Always use fresh cucumber, and peel the hard outer skin first. Chop it up into manageable pieces that he can chew easily and that won't be a choking hazard.
For some fun serving ideas, try chopping up a peeled cucumber and making a salad. Add other safe fruits and vegetables that also harbor health benefits. Melon, pear, asparagus, and blueberries make for a colorful dog-friendly dish!
Frozen chunks of peeled cucumber are also a great healthy snack for hot days. You might even like to try using small pieces of cucumber as healthy training treats. These are a great alternative to sugary, grain-based commercial products!