Let's get straight to it: Can dogs eat cucumbers? Yes, this snack is just as healthy and hydrating for our dogs as it is for us dog owners. So the next time you're cutting up a fresh cuke, you can share a slice with your furry friend.
However, you shouldn't share cucumber in all its forms. Some prepared forms of cucumber may contain ingredients that are bad for dogs.
Before you introduce this new food into your dog's diet, learn the safest ways to feed it, the associated health benefits, and some simple recipes that will turn this healthy snack into a tasty treat.
Can Dogs Eat Cucumber?
So, are cucumbers safe for dogs? As we've established, they are — as long as you take steps to feed them safely. Here's what to do before feeding your dog cucumbers.
Choose Organic, Fresh Cucumbers
When your dog eats fresh cucumbers as opposed to preserved cucumbers, they'll get the maximum amount of nutrients out of the veggie.
Preserved cucumbers, like pickles, lose some of their nutritional content over time. And while a basic pickling brine only contains vinegar and sugar — both dog-safe — many pickling brines include other ingredients, like garlic, onions, and spices, which are not safe for dogs.
In addition to feeding this veggie fresh, consider choosing organic cucumbers. Cucumbers rank 17th on the Environmental Working Group's 2021 Shopping Guide to Pesticides in Produce. And according to What's on My Food, part of the Pesticide Action Network, the USDA has found residue from more than 86 different pesticides on common cucumbers. Ten of these pesticides are known or probable carcinogens, which contribute to increased cancer rates.
Check for Other Ingredients
If you're considering feeding your dog cucumber from prepared foods, like salads or sandwiches, check the full list of ingredients first. Do your research and make sure every ingredient is safe for dogs.
Some cucumber salads are simply dressed with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. All of these ingredients are safe for dogs. But, if the salad dressing contains garlic and/or onions, do not feed this food to your furry friend. Garlic and onions can be toxic to dogs. Also, beware of labels that list "spices," because this can include garlic, onions, or other seasonings that might upset your pet.
Don't pick cucumber slices out of a dressed salad to share with your dog. Salad dressing can contain many ingredients that are bad for dogs. However, if the salad doesn't have dressing on it, you can safely pick out the cucumbers and feed them to your furry friend. (You can even share some of the other salad ingredients like tomatoes and lettuce.)
If you're sharing cucumber slices you picked out of a sandwich, make sure they haven't been cross contaminated with other ingredients like mustard, mayo, or sauces.
Slice and Dice
Whole cucumbers can be a choking hazard for your pet. If your dog gets their paws on a whole cucumber, they also risk overeating this veggie, which can lead to an upset stomach or diarrhea.
Before feeding this food to your best friend, slice it into small pieces (the smaller the dog, the smaller the pieces should be). You don't have to peel the cucumber skin before feeding it to your dog — the skin actually contains beneficial nutrients that your dog won't get just from eating cucumber flesh.
However, if you're feeding your dog conventional cucumbers instead of organic, peeling the skin will remove a large quantity of pesticide residue, according to scientific research.
Support Your Pup's Digestive System
Anytime you introduce a new human food into your dog's diet, you risk gastrointestinal upset. If it’s their first time eating the vegetable, the risk of an upset stomach or diarrhea is higher when you feed your dog large quantities of cucumber. That’s why you want to stick with small amounts. However, dogs with sensitive digestive systems can get an upset stomach from any new food as their body adjusts.
Anytime you make changes to your dog's routine — from boarding them in a kennel to adding a new food to their daily diet — a probiotic supplement can support their gastrointestinal tract and help them avoid an upset stomach. You can also help your pet stay regular by feeding them organic pumpkin for dogs. Consider using these supportive supplements when you introduce cucumber or any other fruits and veggies into your dog's diet.
What Are the Health Benefits of Cucumbers?
If you feed your dog small bites of fresh cucumber, the benefits can far outweigh the risks. Here's how this veggie can support your pet's health.
Cucumbers have an extremely low sugar content. A half cup of sliced cucumber — far more than you'll want to feed your dog in one sitting — contains 0 grams of sugar. This makes cucumbers a healthy snack for diabetic dogs because it won't spike their blood sugar.
If your dog is overweight, cucumbers are a healthy treat option for weight loss. That same 1/2 cup of sliced cucumber only contains eight calories. Feed your dog this crunchy veggie in place of dog treats to support their new healthy lifestyle.
High Water Content
Try feeding your dog cucumber to help them stay cool on a hot summer day.
High Nutrient Content
Many people take cucumber's high water content to mean it’s low in other nutrients, but this is a misconception. This nutritious veggie is loaded with phytonutrients that can contribute to a balanced diet. Here's a look at some of the superfood benefits your dog will get from eating cucumber:
- Antioxidants: These phytochemicals have anti-inflammatory properties that support your dog's immune system and help ward off cancer-causing free radicals. They aren't considered essential nutrients, which means many commercial dog foods don't contain any antioxidants at all.
- Vitamin C: Another supportive nutrient for your pup's immune system, vitamin C is considered a non-essential nutrient because your dog's body can produce it. But, an extra dietary dose of this vitamin can help support older dogs or dogs with weakened immune systems.
- Vitamin K: This is an essential nutrient for dogs, so your pet will also get it from their dog food. This vitamin helps with blood clotting and supports bone health.
- Potassium: Aside from offering hydration benefits, potassium is an essential mineral that allows your dog’s nervous system to send electrical signals to their muscles and organs.
- Magnesium: Another essential electrolyte, magnesium helps transfer energy throughout your dog’s body. This process allows your dog's muscles to move and their heart to beat.
- Manganese: This essential mineral allows your dog's body to metabolize protein and carbs, produce energy, and maintain bones and cartilage.
Healthy Cucumber Recipes to Share With Your Dog
Now that you understand the benefits of cucumber for dogs, you're ready to feed this healthy snack to your furry friend. Try these flavor pairings to make a tasty treat your pet will love:
- Cucumber and Greek yogurt: Spread some plain yogurt on a cucumber slice to add a natural boost of probiotics. Full-fat yogurt will turn this veggie into a tempting treat for even the pickiest eaters, but if your dog is on a diet, opt for a lower-fat version. Greek yogurt is also a good topping for zucchini, another dog-friendly vegetable.
- Cucumber and watermelon: Make your dog a delicious pupsicle by pureeing cucumber and watermelon in your food processor. Pour the mix into a popsicle mold, add any other dog-friendly fruits you want to include — think sliced strawberries, blueberries, or apples — and freeze until solid. Then, give your dog this frozen treat on a hot summer day.
- Cucumber water: For a fun treat, infuse your dog’s water with fresh cucumber slices, or freeze cucumber slices into ice cubes and float them on top of your pet's water bowl. Not every dog will be amused by veggies floating in their water, but some will have a great time bobbing for cucumbers.
Cucumbers for Dogs: Feeding This Fresh, Fun Treat
So, can dogs eat cucumbers? Yes, and this healthy snack is packed with nutrients that can benefit your dog. Just make sure you feed fresh cucumbers, not pickles, which are often brined with garlic, onion, and other spices that can harm our pets. And as with any new food, introduce cucumber into your dog's diet in small quantities to avoid an upset stomach. Chop the veggie into small pieces to avoid choking risks.
And remember, sharing fruits and veggies with our furry friends is as much about giving them a tasty treat as it is about sharing the health benefits. Get creative with other dog-friendly ingredients like yogurt or watermelon, and check out the Native Pet blog for more recipe inspiration.