Yes, giving your dog several slices of fresh cucumbers is always a good thing to do. Unlike other human foods that we tend to give to man’s best friend, cucumbers don’t pack enough calories to make your pet obese. It doesn’t contain cholesterol and other fat, too. However, like every other dog-safe human food we give to our respective hounds, it is still best to observe moderation. This is important if the dog eats cucumber for the very first time.
Nutrient Profile of Cucumber
It is one thing to say that cucumber is safe to give to pet dogs but pet parents would also like to know if it is nutritious. While the cucumber doesn’t come packed with all the nutrients that other vegetables may possess, it does feature some substances that can make it a healthy treat. Let us look at a cucumber’s nutrient profile. In the figures we’ll mention in this section, we’ll refer to half a cup of sliced fresh cucumber.
- Low Calories
Half a cup of fresh cucumber slices is only equivalent to 7.8 calories. Giving your pet a whole cup means giving it only 15.6 calories. Compare this to a single piece of doggie treat that can contain about 30 to 40 calories per piece. True, doggie biscuits are more flavorful than cucumber slices. However, if your hound is at risk of the development of diabetes and obesity-related health problems, this veggie is the best.
- High Water Content
In addition to the low-calorie content of cucumbers, it is also rich in moisture. We know that watermelons are filled with water. What many don’t know is that cucumbers outclass watermelons, celeries, tomatoes, and peppers when it comes to water content. Water accounts for 96% of the weight of cucumbers. By comparison, watermelons only contain about 92% water while strawberries contain 91%. Giving cucumbers to your pet dog can help improve its hydration status.
- Zero Fat
You will also love the fact that cucumbers do not contain fat at all. However, they do contain trace amounts of essential fatty acids. But when it comes to the unhealthy saturated fats, this vegetable has none of it. This can translate to better cardiovascular health for the animal. At least, this vegetable will not add to the already-fatty diet that most dogs have today.
- Essential Fatty Acids
While cucumbers are fat-free, they do contain essential fatty acids in trace amounts. For example, half a cup of cucumber contains about 2.6 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of ALA. The same serving size also contains 14.6 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids. These may not be much but they sure can contribute to the overall wellness of your pet dog.
These are substances that have a similar chemical structure with cholesterol found in animals, including dogs and humans. Because they are structurally similar, they tend to compete with cholesterol as to which of these substances get absorbed through the intestinal walls. As such, it can play a role in the lowering of blood cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, the amount of phytosterols in cucumbers may not be enough to produce a strong cholesterol-lowering effect in susceptible dogs. Half a cup of this vegetable only contains 7.3 milligrams of phytosterols. Nevertheless, it is still a lot better than those that don’t contain such compounds.
- Vitamins and Minerals
Cucumbers are a good source of Vitamin K. This fat-soluble vitamin is important in the production of certain clotting factors to help address bleeding tendencies in dogs. The vitamin also plays a role in the regulation of calcium levels in the blood as well as bone metabolism. In other words, Vitamin K can be beneficial for your pet’s bones. In addition to Vitamin K, cucumber also contains modest amounts of Vitamin A, C, and B6. It also has pantothenic acid, folate, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin in trace amounts.
As for the minerals, you’d get surprised if we tell you that it has calcium and iron. While these minerals come in trace amounts, they are still noteworthy since cucumber is not a dairy product nor a meat-based food item. The vegetable also comes with phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, manganese, zinc, and copper. And get this. Half a cup of this vegetable only carries 1 milligram of sodium.
Benefits of Cucumber
Based on the nutrient profile of cucumbers alone, it is safe to say that giving this veggie to your dog can provide a host of benefits. Regardless, allow us to spell them out for you.
- Aids in Managing Weight Issues
As mentioned, a cup of fresh sliced cucumbers contains only 15 to 16 calories. Compare this to a 30- to 40-calorie doggie treat and you know that this veggie is a great way to lose weight. Your dog can be munching on a cup of this vegetable and it will only fill its tummy. Once filled, it should stop eating. On a positive note, since cucumbers only contain that many calories, they don’t end up getting stored as fat. It is for this reason that cucumbers may be a good idea for dogs that have weight issues. It can become an important part of a weight loss plan for dogs that also includes increased exercise.
- Improves Hydration Status
About 96% of the cucumber is water. In fact, it contains more water than watermelons and other food items. Water is critical for optimum cellular functioning. It helps prevent cellular overheating, allowing the cells to flourish. Dogs can pant. They can also sweat in their paw pads and noses. Unfortunately, these are often not enough to keep them cool during summer. Instead of giving your dog watermelon, giving cucumbers would be a better choice.
- Contributes to Overall Health
While the nutrients found in cucumbers are almost negligible, they can still contribute to the animal’s overall health. What we have to understand is that cucumbers are not replacements or substitutes for a dog’s well-balanced and complete meal. This vegetable, like all other pet-safe “human food”, is given only as an occasional treat. Some may give it to enhance the texture of dog food or to impart a different flavor but it doesn’t comprise the main bulk of its nutrient needs. It is for this reason that the nutrients that cucumbers bring to the table can still be very useful. They can help enhance the different processes that the nutrients from the dog’s regular food already ensure.
How to Give Cucumber to Dogs
When giving this vegetable to your pet, it is best to stick with fresh cucumbers. There are those that you can purchase in cans or bottles. Some can come as pickled cucumbers. Unfortunately, these varieties of the vegetable can contain other compounds that your dog doesn’t need. For instance, pickled cucumbers will have vinegar, sugar, and salt as well as spices that the manufacturer may deem necessary. The cucumber itself is not harmful to your pet. However, the extra ingredients in these products can bring more harm than good. Hence, it is best to give only fresh cucumbers to dogs.
The most practical way to serve this veggie to your pet is by cutting it into thin slices. If you are concerned about choking or your pet unable to digest the cucumber skin, you can peel this off before slicing. Serve it as a treat. With its zero-fat, high-moisture, and low-calorie content, cucumber is a lot healthier option for obesity-prone dogs. It can be a great treat for canines with weight issues and diabetes.
If you want to add some crunch into the regular meal of the dog, you can chop off a piece of cucumber. Make sure that the diced bits are not large to prevent choking. Mix this with the animal’s regular meal and watch your pet’s eyes grow in amazement. It will relish the crunch and the “new” flavor of its food.
Pet parents who have food puzzle toys can also cut up a cucumber for stuffing into these devices. Dog chew toys also work as a great alternative to food puzzle toys. The important thing to keep in mind is to slice the cucumber in small-enough pieces so they fit through the hole of the toy.
While cucumbers are safe and healthy for your pet, they should not comprise more than a tenth of your dog’s food intake every day. This 10-percent rule is a must for every pet to avoid any nutritional imbalances and cause health problems.
Moreover, it is best to introduce cucumbers in a gradual manner. This way, you can acclimatize the animal’s stomach in case it develops gastrointestinal problems. Some dogs can develop diarrhea because they are unable to digest the cucumber slices in a more efficient manner. It is a safe vegetable. However, we can never tell how one dog will react if you give it cucumber.
Cucumbers are great treats for dogs. They are low in calories and high in moisture. They also contain some substances that can further enhance your pet’s overall health. Like everything else, however, it is best to be cautious and observe moderation.
- Can dogs Eat Cucumbers? – AKC
- Cucumber, with Peel, Raw, Nutrition Facts & Calories – Nutrition Data