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Can dogs eat cucumbers?

If a dog has ever stared you down while you prepare your lunch or dinner, you have probably asked yourself whether certain human foods are safe for dogs to eat. While the list of forbidden fruits for pets is long and varied, cucumbers are perfectly safe for the whole family—furry or not. In fact, this refreshing food has many health benefits for pets as part of a balanced diet.

What are cucumbers?

Cucumbers are commonly referred to as vegetables, but they are actually fruits. They contain seeds and grow from the ovaries of Cucurbitaceae plants, the same family as many melons and squashes. Cool and crispy, cucumbers are popular choices for salads and pickling, but this versatile, mild-flavored fruit can be used in many dishes. Cucumbers are naturally low-calorie, containing only 12 calories per 100 grams, fat- and cholesterol-free, and low in sodium, but they still manage to pack loads of nutrients into one serving, including:

  • Fiber
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin K
  • Thiamine
  • Beta carotene
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium

What are the benefits of cucumbers for dogs?

Cucumbers provide loads of nutritional benefits for humans. No specific research has been done on their advantages for dogs, but many of the cucumber’s health perks can seemingly be extrapolated to our omnivorous friends.

  • Hydration — Since cucumbers consist of 95% water, a serving of this refreshing fruit can be a thirst-quenching snack for your pup.
  • Inflammatory conditions — Cucumbers contain several phytonutrients that help remove waste and toxins from the body, subsequently reducing inflammation.
  • Skin conditions — When used topically, cucumbers have a natural cooling and soothing effect on irritated skin— always ask your veterinarian first and never apply cucumbers to an open or bleeding wound.
  • Cancer — Cucumbers contain phytonutrients that have demonstrated anti-cancer properties in humans, particularly pancreatic and breast cancers.
  • Antioxidants — Vitamin C, manganese, and beta carotene are all examples of antioxidants, which scavenge free radicals in the body and help ward off disease.
  • Digestion — Due to their moderate fiber content, cucumbers can help with constipation and other digestive disorders.
  • Obesity — Cucumbers are loaded with water and fiber, two ingredients that help people feel satiated, so incorporating cucumbers in the diet may help your pet lose weight, but consult with your veterinarian first.
  • Brain health — Fisetin, a flavonoid found in cucumbers, is associated with nerve cell protection and improved memory function, according to a study performed on mice.

Can cucumbers cause negative health effects in dogs?

The benefits of cucumbers far outweigh any negatives of this healthful food, although these minor risks should be considered:

  • The cucumber’s crunchy, somewhat hard texture could pose a choking hazard to an overzealous eater—minimize this risk by cutting the cucumber into bite-size pieces that, if swallowed whole, will not harm your pet.
  • The skin and seeds contain the majority of the cucumber’s nutrients, but they may be difficult for your pooch to digest, so feed these with caution. Consider offering your dog a small portion of seeded, peeled cucumber first, and slowly work your way toward feeding the skin and seeds.

Cucumbers can be a great supplement to your dog’s diet, but always ensure your pet is monitored when introducing a new food.

How to incorporate cucumbers into your dog’s diet

Cucumbers on their own can be a great, healthy snack alternative for preservative-laden commercial treats. They can also be incorporated into refreshing, pooch-friendly recipes, like this one from My Brown Newfies:

Cucumber and watermelon frozen dog treats

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh, seedless watermelon
  • 1 fresh cucumber
  • Silicone molds, ice cube trays, or muffin tins

Instructions:

  1. Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds with a spoon, toss the cucumber in the blender, and puree. Pour about one quarter of this mixture into the mold of your choice and freeze for at least four hours.
  2. Cut the watermelon into slices or cubes and cut off the rind. Remove any seeds, toss the watermelon in the blender, and puree. Pour watermelon juice over the frozen cucumber juice already in the molds and let sit for another four hours or overnight.
  3. Remove from the mold and serve to your pup.

Always discuss any changes in your pet’s diet with your veterinarian first. While adding a few slices of cucumber is unlikely to cause harm, do not drastically alter your pet’s daily diet without professional guidance.