They're crunchy, nutritious, and refreshing in salads, soups, and smoothies, but are cucumbers safe for our dogs to snack on? Though often mistaken for vegetables, cucumbers are actually a fruit, they're part of the same family that includes melons and squashes, and they are packed with fiber, water, and other nutrients. They can make a healthy, hydrating treat for both humans and their canine counterparts.
Can Dogs Eat Cucumbers?
Although there are some fruits and veggies that pet parents should steer clear of, grapes and onions, for example, the cucumber gets the green light from most veterinarians. They make a healthy alternative to conventional dog treats because they're low-calorie, high-fiber, and have a satisfying crunch that many dogs go ga-ga over.
There are only about eight calories per a half-cup of cucumber slices, and when compared to the average medium dog treat hovering around 40 calories, its easy to see why you might want to opt for cucumbers instead of commercially packaged treats.
Benefits of Cucumbers for Dogs
In addition to being low in sodium and fat, cucumbers also have a high water content (they're considered to be up to 95 percent water). This means they're an especially good option for dogs that are overweight, as well as for any dog that may benefit from a refreshing, hydrating treat after a long walk or romp in the backyard on a summers day. Some veterinarians suggest swapping treats for veggies like cucumbers as a way to help your dog manage their weight without having to cut out rewards for good behavior.
Cucumbers are also packed with beneficial nutrients and minerals, for both dogs and humans alike. These include Vitamin B, C, and K, copper, potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium.
Eating cucumbers has been shown to help control high blood sugar and even reduce inflammation in animal studies. They are also chock full of fiber and contain beta-carotene and manganese. Granted, you'd have to let your dog eat a lot of cucumbers to reap significant benefits, but even small nibbles can have their advantages
Dangers of Cucumbers for Dogs
Of course, even though they are considered "safe" for our dogs, there are still some potential dangers you should be aware of before you let Fido chow down on a whole cucumber. First, if your dog has a history of bladder stones or other urinary issues, consult with your veterinarian before using cucumbers. Because cucumbers are high in vitamins D and C, they may cause an issue in dogs that are already predisposed to developing stones.
While consuming too much cucumber likely won't cause serious damage to your pooch in most cases, just like any human food, there's always the risk of gastrointestinal upset. Every dog processes "people food" differently, so you'll always want to be sure to monitor your pet for any negative side effects after snacking on cucumber slices in moderation.
It's also important to cut those cucumbers down to a manageable size, and be sure to keep your dog's breed in mind, to prevent choking. Not surprisingly, smaller dogs will require smaller pieces. The amount of cucumber a Golden Retriever can tolerate, for example, will not be the same as what's appropriate for a Shih Tzu.
How to Serve Cucumber to Your Dog
If your dog is the type to scoff down a special treat in a matter of seconds, you definitely want to be sure not to toss over giant slices of cucumber that can get lodged in their throat (or even cause potentially life-threatening intestinal blockages). Above all, never offer your dog a whole cucumber, as the risk of choking or digestive issues is too great.
When preparing cucumber for dogs, either raw or cooked is acceptable. If you're concerned about pesticides or the fibrous outer skin being hard to digest, however, it might be best to peel it first.
As with any fruit or vegetable, be sure to thoroughly wash the cucumber before handing it over to your dog, whether it's in small bite-sized pieces or chopped up and mixed into your dog's regular kibble or wet food.
It's also OK to let dogs eat the skin as well as the seeds, although they can also be scooped out with a spoon before letting your dog dig in.
Even though they may technically fall under the category of cucumbers, pickles are definitely a no-no for your pooch. Full of sodium as well as added spices like garlic and preservatives, they are definitely not recommended for dogs.