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As all dog parents, you are always looking for ways to instil a healthy lifestyle, full of nutritional foods for our pups. However, it is important to ensure your healthy ideas are actually safe. A healthy snack for you, may not be harmless for your dog; even with their best puppy eyes. If you are ever unsure, take the time to check and speak to your vet for advice.
One such food that most humans enjoy as a low-calorie snack are slices of cucumber. But how about our four-legged friends, can dogs eat cucumber slices? You’ll be pleased to hear that not only can dogs eat cucumber, but they are full of goodness and nutritional benefits for your dog's health and wellbeing.
The Benefits of Cucumber for Dogs
Cucumbers are packed full of nutrients, creating an extremely low-fat snack for your pup. It makes an ideal treat; there is no need to feel guilty using pieces of cucumber to help train your dog. Instead, they provide a low-salt and low-sugar, crunchy snack. However, the benefits don’t stop there. Similar to humans, cucumbers provide dogs with several benefits.
Cucumbers have a Significant Water Content
You may not be surprised to know, 95% of a cucumber is water. Therefore, this fruit offers a handy, low-fat treat that will also keep your dog hydrated. On hot, sunny days, a cucumber snack will be able to help regulate your dog's temperature, while they enjoy a refreshing munch.
Cucumbers are Natural Breath Fresheners
Cucumber plants naturally produce phytonutrients and phytochemicals as they grow. These chemicals have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and when ingested by your dog, they can remove bacteria found in their mouths. While this benefit may be lost on your dog, at least you’ll appreciate cucumber’s ability to freshen up your dog’s breath.
Of course, a cucumber will never provide the same oral health benefits as your dog’s current routine and dog-safe toothpaste. However, a cucumber treat can offer your pooch a burst of freshness during a long day.
The Health Benefits of Cucumbers
Cucumbers have been identified as an ideal treat for dogs due to their range of benefits to your pup's health. But, it is worth remembering that despite all their benefits, cucumber treats will never compete with the nutritional value of their day-to-day, complete dog food. These meals have been carefully created to ensure all the nutrients your dog will need throughout the day are provided, and of high quality too.
Always keep in mind that cucumber should only be used as a small treat.
In addition to their impressive water content, cucumbers also provide essential minerals and vitamins for your dog’s wellbeing. From a range of vitamins to potassium, manganese, and more:
- Fibre - the majority of the fibre is located in the cucumber’s skin. It plays a crucial role in supporting your dog's digestive tract and improving their stools.
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) - helps to monitor energy.
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) - is a key vitamin in your dog’s production of energy.
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) - aids the immune and nervous system, and supports your dog’s red blood cell production.
- Vitamin C - is essential in removing free-radical molecules that can have a detrimental effect on cells. These vitamins also play a key role in supporting the immune system and fighting inflammation.
- Vitamin K - plays an active role in strengthening your dog’s bones as well as aiding blood clotting and coagulation. Active dogs experience more skeletal wear and tear; therefore, foods high in Vitamin K help to carry out the needed repairs.
- Potassium - is a key ingredient for healthy kidney function, while also aiding your dog’s heart, muscle and digestive function.
- Manganese - this micro-mineral helps improve your pup’s energy production as well as its protein and fatty acid metabolism.
- Molybdenum - another micro-mineral that is needed for cells to function normally. It is able to process carbohydrates and regulate the amount of copper in your dog’s system.
Cucumbers also contain trace amounts of calcium, zinc and iron. These minerals benefit bone growth, while also supporting the function of your dog’s immune system.
Overweight Dogs and Cucumbers
Has your dog been told to watch its waistline by the vet? If your pup is overweight or needs to be careful of their intake due to health reasons, cucumber is the perfect treat. With such a high water content, there are very few calories. Consequently, cucumbers have very little effect on your dog’s daily intake.
On these grounds, cut-up cucumber makes a recommended substitute for training treats. While for overweight dogs, a chunk of cucumber provides a juicy treat to satisfy their desire without having a negative effect on their diet.
Diabetic Dogs and Cucumbers
Similarly, if your dog suffers from diabetes and struggles to control its blood glucose, finding suitable treats can be difficult. Fortunately, cucumbers are categorised within the low-sugar food group.
In addition, cucumbers have recently been recognised as potential food that can help fight diabetes in animals. Studies have discovered that as they do not contain starch, they could be used to regulate insulin and blood sugar. In a dog’s system, starch can transform into more sugar, something that is extremely dangerous for diabetic pups. With zero starch, cucumbers make for a much safer treat for your dog.
It is always recommended to check with your local veterinary practice, before adapting your dog’s diet.
Preparing Cucumber Treats for your Dog
Now we know the nutritional and health benefits of cucumbers, it's time to discuss how best to prepare them.
- Go Organic - Organic cucumbers are your best option when creating juicy dog treats; choosing these products avoids the risk of encountering nasty pesticides. Of course, supporting sustainable farming and environmentally-friendly products is a win-win too.
- Don’t Forget to Wash - Always take the extra time to give your dog’s fruit and vegetables a thorough rinse. Doing so will remove any stray germs that have been picked up on your journey home from the shop. This is a particularly good practice if you have a young puppy who is still developing their immune system.
- To Cook or Not to Cook? - Cucumbers contain the most nutritional benefits when raw; however, you may be surprised to know they can be cooked. To cook or not to cook is merely chosen on your dog’s personal preference.
- A Special Treat - All that’s left now is to treat your pup. Cucumber can be given as a simple healthy alternative or you can use it to create some extra special snacks.
Here are three quick and easy cucumber treats you can create for your four-legged friend.
- If your dog is crazy for peanut butter or cream cheese, they’ll love this occasional treat. By cutting thin cucumber discs and removing the seeded centre, you can replace the middle with a small amount of their favourite spread.
- For a dog-friendly salad, try mixing chunks of cucumber with manageable cubes of pear and celery for a refreshing, crunchy bowl of goodness.
- When those hot days strike, try freezing pieces of peeled cucumber to create a hydrating frozen treat to cool them down. These treats also double as useful teething tools for young puppies, as their frozen nature soothes away any pain.
For dogs who suffer from gastrointestinal problems or who have sensitive stomachs, it is best to keep it simple and remove the cucumber’s skin and seeds. Most of these issues stem from the least digestible part of food, actively taking these out reduces their chance of encountering problems.
Can eating cucumbers be dangerous for dogs?
Let us reiterate, dogs can eat cucumbers. However, there are two instances when cucumber treats can be dangerous for dogs: overeating cucumber and eating large pieces of cucumber.
In excessive quantities cucumber can upset your dog’s stomach, resulting in tummy ache and diarrhoea. The gastrointestinal upset will pass, but it is expected for your pup to be in some discomfort. To avoid upset, it is best to introduce your dog to new foods slowly. As cucumber is known for its high water and fibre content, too much can easily cause diarrhoea so do bear this in mind.
When deciding how much cucumber is excessive, remember the 10% rule. Treats should only account for 10% of a dog’s diet, with 90% of its nutrients provided by their daily dog food. Of course, the size of your dog will affect how much this 10% equates to - larger Golden Retrievers will manage bigger chunks of cucumber than a small Terrier, for example.
Just as a person would cut themselves a serving of cucumber, the same goes for your pooch; giving your dog a whole cucumber is simply a disaster waiting to happen. Cucumbers can be a choking hazard for all dogs, depending on the size of the serving. To avoid this, we recommend cutting cucumber into small, thin pieces to allow for easy swallowing and digesting.
Are cucumbers safe for puppies?
Yes, puppies can eat cucumbers too. They can also benefit from cucumber’s nutritional advantages by exploring the varying textures they have to offer. The fusion of a crunchy exterior with a soft, juicy centre, helps their development as they grow. Always remember to adjust the serving size to remove the choking hazard.
How about pickles as a dog treat?
Most pickles are not necessarily toxic for dogs but you’ll probably find your pup will spit it back out. Pickles are created by brining cucumber in a concoction of water, vinegar and salt; a taste most dogs just don’t like. However, if your pup is intrigued, it is still best to avoid pickles.
Due to the brining process, pickled cucumbers are exceptionally high in salt. Too much sodium in your dog’s diet can lead to hypernatremia, sodium poisoning. This condition may be rare, but in extreme cases is fatal. Your best bet is to steer clear of pickles as even mild symptoms can still be very unpleasant.
Another reason to avoid pickles is the unexpected ingredients they may contain. Cucumbers can be pickled with onions and garlic, as well as different peppers. As you already know, onions and garlic are toxic foods for dogs, so let’s be safe instead of sorry and avoid pickles altogether. After all, there are many more healthy foods you can use to treat your dogs, from blueberries and watermelon to apples and cucumber.
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