Are Cucumbers Cool for Dogs?
This veterinary toxicologist says cukes are A-OK for canines as a healthy treat. Just watch that you feed them the right way!
Cucumbers are low on calories, filling, and jammed with hydrating water. It's no surprise then that they show up as a healthy snack for humans. But can dogs eat cucumbers safely?
Sure thing, says Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, a veterinarian toxicologist who works with Pet Poison Helpline to answer questions about toxic substances.
"Cucumbers aren't toxic to dogs," Schmid says.
"While cucumbers aren't harmful to dogs, consuming too much of any treat can cause stomach upset," Wismer warns.
Here's the lowdown on using cucumber as an occasional dog treat.
How to Properly Prepare Cucumber for Your Dog
Some cats really don't like cucumbers (we're not kidding), but dogs are likely to be curious and adventurous enough to try them out if you're having them. Luckily, tips for safe cucumber consumption is pretty basic for most healthy dogs.
How much cucumber can a dog eat? Remember Wismer's advice. Cucumbers are relatively low-calorie (12 calories in one cup of skinned slices), so it's not easy to overdo it with the healthy treat. But keep it a treat, and don't fill up your dog on cucumbers or any other human foods. Many veterinarians recommend feeding 10 percent or less of your dog's daily calories as treats.
Don't Give Your Dog the Whole Cucumber
Some dogs who wolf down their food like, well, a hungry wolf, may choke on a whole cucumber or a larger piece. There's also a risk of larger pieces taking too long to break down. "There's always a risk of [getting stuck] due to the length of time it would take for the dog's digestive system to break down the cucumber," Schmid says. Instead, opt for smaller, thinner slices or pieces.
Skip the Skin and Seeds
The most likely culprits for stomach upset and other gastrointestinal problems come from the least digestible parts: the seeds and skin. So if your dog has a sensitive stomach, remove the seeds and peel the cucumber's skin before serving. Although, many dogs don't have a problem with either skin or seeds, but it doesn't hurt to be cautious just in case.
Not only can dogs eat cucumbers raw, it's probably a safer bet. Cucumbers wind up in salads and other foods that might be doused (or drizzled) with dressings, oils, and seasonings that might be bad for a dog. Especially beware of artificial sweeteners with xylitol, which is toxic to dogs in even small amounts.
Can Dogs Eat Pickles?
Don't feed your dog this onion-and-garlic-flavored variety. Though pickles are pickled cucumbers, they can contain ingredients that are bad for dogs like excessive salt.
Are Cucumbers Good for Dogs?
A good, commercially available dog food satisfies the nutritional requirements a dog needs, Schmid says. But cucumbers are a low-calorie alternative to more fattening dog treats.
"If a dog is healthy and on a well-balanced, pet-specific diet, there's no need to supplement with cucumbers," Schmid says. "But they're a good alternative to traditional treats, because they're low in calories and fat."
Other Healthy Fruits and Vegetables for Dogs
A few notable dog-friendly fruits and vegetables (as long as they're prepared properly) include:
Remember, the same advice that goes for cucumbers also goes for many other fruits and vegetables: Get rid of stuff that's hard to digest, test it out first to make sure your dog doesn't react poorly, offer it in small amounts, and always check with your veterinarian first before feeding your dog any new foods.