A slice of crunchy, refreshing cucumber can really hit the spot on a hot day. We love to add them to salads, sandwiches, and even just eat them as a snack on their own. Some dogs love all kinds of fruits and vegetables and might come looking for a tasty treat of their own. The good news is that cucumbers are a healthful snack that we can happily give our dogs to eat.
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Low in calories and sodium, but filled with vitamins and minerals, and a good source of hydration, cucumbers are a snack we can feel good about offering to our pups. Remember that snacks should only comprise about 10% of a dog’s daily diet, and it is important that you feed them a high-quality balanced pet food. The small amount of cucumber your dog can eat in a day will not give them the daily allowance of these essential vitamins and minerals, but cucumbers are certainly a good supplement for their regular diet.
Cucumbers contain vitamin K and vitamin C, which, in combination, are important for strengthening bones. Vitamin K has also been shown to promote blood clotting and wound healing. Some early studies have found that it can be beneficial for dogs who suffer from allergic dermatitis and inflammation because it limits histamine production. Vitamin C boosts your dog’s immune system to help them fight off disease and illness, and it creates a protein to help repair and strengthen their body tissue.
They are also a good source of potassium, an important element in the blood minerals known as electrolytes. Potassium helps a dog’s cells function and maintains the proper electrical charge needed for the heart, nerves, and muscles to perform properly. Low levels of potassium can lead to lethargy, weight loss, and general weakness.
Because they are more than 96% water, cucumbers are extremely hydrating. It is essential that your dog drink enough water every day, and eating cucumbers helps them meet that need. Proper hydration benefits your dog’s digestion, helps with kidney function, can ease joint pain, maintain good brain health, and regulate body temperature.
The high amount of soluble fiber found in cucumber skin works in conjunction with its high water content to promote good digestion and overall gut health. Soluble fiber is important as it breaks down during the digestive process and promotes the development of healthy gut bacteria.
A few cautions
Although fresh cucumbers offer these many benefits for your dog, dogs should not be given pickled cucumbers, which can be harmful for them. Pickles have a very high salt content and often contain spices and seasonings like garlic and onions that cannot be tolerated by your dog.
It might be tempting to give your dog a whole cucumber to chew like a bone, but this can be a dangerous choking hazard or could lead to an intestinal blockage for your pup, particularly if you have a small dog.
While they are safe to eat, cucumber skin and seeds can be tough and difficult for your dog to properly digest. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, consider peeling the cucumber and removing the seeds before offering it as a snack. Cucumber skin also contains small amounts of a toxic chemical compound called cucurbitacin. This compound is primarily found in the leaves, roots, and stems of the cucumber plant, but it can spread to the fruit and give a bitter taste to the skin and ends of the cucumber. It is not harmful in the small amounts given to your dog, but it is good to be aware of, especially if you grow your own cucumber plants.
The high fiber content of cucumber can also lead to stomach upset and diarrhea if you give them too much.
While rare, some dogs can be allergic to cucumbers. As with introducing any new food to your dog, start with a small amount and watch for any sign of intolerance like itching, diarrhea or vomiting.
How to feed your dog cucumber
It is important to feed your dog small chunks or slices of cucumber. Smaller breeds or dogs who bolt their food could be at risk of choking on larger pieces of cucumber, especially if they are unpeeled. This will also help ensure that your dog does not eat too much cucumber at one time, which could lead to stomach upset and diarrhea.
While a crunchy slice is a great way to offer cucumber, small chunks of cucumber can be mixed with plain yogurt and frozen in a Kong or an ice cube tray to be given as an extra cool treat. You could also mash cucumber slices and freeze them into tasty ‘pupsicles’.
Fresh cucumber water is another wonderful way to give your pup these benefits. If you don’t make it yourself, however, be extra careful that the product you buy doesn’t have any additives like sugar or the sweetener xylitol, which can be fatal for dogs.
The bottom line
Cucumbers are tasty treats that offer a lot of benefits when given to your dog as an occasional snack. They will help keep your dog hydrated while delivering a number of healthy vitamins and minerals. The fact that they are very low in calories and sodium makes them an appropriate substitute for training treats and biscuits if your dog is in danger of becoming overweight.
Next time you are enjoying some crunchy cucumber slices, you can feel good about sharing a piece with your favorite fur friend. Your pup will thank you for it!