Dogs are omnivorous creatures which, combined with their scavenging tendencies, will usually have them trailing their humans armed with puppy eyes, begging for a tasty scrap of whatever they’re eating. However, just because they really want to eat something, doesn’t always mean that they should.
Some human food is harmful to dogs, but then other snacks we enjoy are just as healthy and tasty for a pooch to eat too. That’s why it’s im-paw-tent to check if a snack is healthy and safe for your dog to eat before deciding to share a tidbit with them. This includes discussing with your vet if a food is suitable and safe for your pet.
With this in mind, are the healthy snacks we enjoy just as good for our dogs? They’re healthy enough for humans, perhaps you have pondered if they are just as beneficial for your furry friend. You may want to let your dog snack on a low-calorie snack, for example, lettuce or tomatoes, but what about cucumber?
Yes, dogs can eat cucumber!
Cucumbers are perfectly safe for pups to eat. In fact, they make a low-calorie and healthy snack for a pooch to enjoy. The crunch of the skin and refreshing burst of the juicy insides are popular with many pups and can help to keep them hydrated as well as full.
Two of the main factors that influence if a dog can eat human food is the salt and fat content of the food. Thankfully, cucumbers are naturally very low in both salt and fat. This is what makes it a safe choice of treat for your furry friend.
Cucumbers are one food that is fantastically healthy for both humans and dogs.
Given the high water content, cucumbers help to keep you hydrated. The same is true for dogs, who will enjoy the snack and hydration hit that it will give them. The low salt levels also mean there is no risk of your dog suffering from sodium poisoning or dehydration from eating them. As cucumber is cold and refreshing, it is great for teething puppies to help relieve some of the pain.
Because cucumbers are very low-fat snacks, they make excellent treats for pooches that need to be kept on a calorie-controlled or low-fat diet. If your pup is prone to pancreatitis, this means cucumbers can make an excellent alternative treat option for them as the low-fat content will pose very little risk in triggering their illness. Cucumber can also make a great filler food for dogs on a controlled diet, or as a replacement snack instead of high-calorie or highly-processed dog treats, paw-fect for pets looking to lose a few pounds or simply switch to a healthier and more natural diet.
Cucumber is also good for dogs because it is a source of fibre, which helps to keep your dog’s digestive system healthy and working as it should.
Admittedly, a cucumber is 96% water, so they aren’t hugely nutritious. But they do still contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin K, which is important in blood clotting and bone health. Cucumbers also contain vitamin C and vitamin D. When crunching into some cucumber, your dog will also get a hit of manganese, magnesium, and potassium. In some studies, it’s even been found that cucumbers can help reduce inflammation and help to control blood sugar levels.
However, this is all in reference to fresh cucumber. What about pickled cucumbers?
We have probably all seen a video of a pup being offered a slice of pickle, only to have one taste of it and immediately spit it out like a fussy toddler.
Some pickles aren’t toxic to dogs. However, this depends on the ingredients used in the brining or pickling process. Most pickles are made by curing cucumbers in a mixture of salt, vinegar, and water. But some varieties of pickle will use additional ingredients in the pickling process such as peppers, onions, and garlic. Ingredients such as onions and garlic are toxic to dogs.
And just because a pickle isn’t poisonous, it doesn’t mean they make a great snack for your dog.
This is because pickled cucumbers are high in sodium, which can pose a health risk to your dog. This is because too much salt in a dog’s diet can lead to sodium poisoning or hypernatremia. These conditions are uncommon but can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, loss of coordination, and even seizures. If it is a very severe case or left untreated, it can lead to damage to the liver and kidneys. In the worst-case scenario, your dog can fall into a coma, or potentially die.
Not to mention, the pickling process negates most of the (already limited) nutritional value of the cucumber. All in all, it makes a pickle a pretty poor choice for a doggy snack.
Thankfully, there are very few risks associated with feeding your dog fresh cucumber. The biggest risk is choking, which can be avoided by cutting the cucumber down into small pieces before feeding it to your pooch.
Although the crunch of cucumber might be tempting, don’t give your dog a whole cucumber to chew on. This is both to reduce the risk of becoming a choking hazard and to prevent the risk of overeating.
As with many things, you can have too much of a good thing. But if your pup chows down on more cucumber than they ought to, it shouldn’t cause any lasting harm. As with most foods, if your pooch eats too much of something, it will probably give them a tummy ache. Eating too much cucumber can cause gastrointestinal upset and discomfort for your dog. Usually, this won’t lead to any serious illness, just a sore stomach and perhaps some diarrhoea.
To avoid both overeating and choking, simply make sure you only feed your dog cucumber cut into small pieces, and feed it to them in moderation. Vets have advised that a dog can eat cucumber as long as it makes up less than 10% of their daily food intake.
Cucumbers might be very healthy and even have some great vitamins and minerals inside, but it is still a little lacking in nutritional value. It is mostly water, after all. Because of this, it’s important not to overfeed your dog cucumber and ensure they maintain a healthy, balanced diet that provides all the vitamins and minerals they need. As a rule of thumb, never feed your dog any treats that add up to more than 10% of their daily diet, including cucumber.
For the majority of pups, cucumbers make a paw-some treat. The chances of your pooch being allergic to cucumber are slim, but not impossible. As with any kind of food, your dog’s reaction to cucumber will depend on your pet’s individual sensitivities. However, most canine allergies and intolerances are to do with grains, lactose, or protein.
On the rare chance your dog does show any signs of an adverse reaction to cucumber, do not feed them any more and contact your vet for advice.
Yes, dogs can eat cucumber. It is a non-toxic vegetable that can make a tasty treat or low-fat snack, perfect for a hungry dog who can’t wait for dinnertime. Just remember to cut it into small pieces and feed in moderation. Cucumber is a great, healthy snack to feed alongside a complete and balanced diet, such as Pure. Dogs can enjoy a delicious, wholesome meal everyday with Pure, alongside a side of crunchy cucumber for a tasty treat.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.