By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker
Including vegetables in your dog’s or cat’s diet has been a topic of debate among pet owners, given that these animals are carnivores by nature. The good news is, there’s increasing research surrounding the positive impacts of increasing your pet’s vegetable intake.
Cucumbers, which have provided immense health benefits for humans, are said to be good for your beloved pets as well. This guide outlines if dogs and cats can eat cucumber, the ways you can serve this vegetable to your pet and the possible side effects that might develop.
Are Cucumbers Good for Dogs?
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), it is okay for dogs to eat cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables when incorporated into a holistic, nutritionally balanced diet plan and combined with proper exercise.1 Dogs can also have cucumber especially if they need to lose weight, since it’s a low-calorie, crunchy snack or treat. Cucumbers are good for dogs because they can:2
- Deliver hydrating abilities — You can give your dog cucumbers after tiring activities. Their high water content will help rehydrate their body.3
- Promote increased bone strength — Cucumbers contain vitamin K,4 which may help build strong bones.5 If you have an active dog (or two), cucumbers may help reduce the amount of stress on their bones.
- Strengthen joint and connective tissues — A mineral called silica found in cucumbers6 may assist in alleviating joint pain, swelling or stiffness.
- Freshen breath — Cucumbers contain phytochemicals and phytonutrients that can help fight odor-producing bacteria. However, cucumbers should not serve as a substitute for brushing your pet’s teeth.7
Are Cucumbers Safe for Dogs?
Although cucumbers are considered safe for dogs and won’t trigger significant damage most of the time, side effects like overeating and choking might occur. The AKC also notes that gastrointestinal upset may develop in dogs who eat too much cucumber, especially if their stomachs aren’t used to the vegetables yet.
To decrease instances of choking, avoid feeding whole cucumbers and cut them to manageable portions. This works well for small dogs or dogs that tend to eat quickly. According to veterinarians, cucumbers are OK for dogs provided that they make up 10 percent of your pet’s daily diet. This is known as the 10 percent rule, and is very helpful in determining the amount of cucumbers you should be feeding.8 Dogster lists different ways you can provide cucumbers for your dogs:9
- Slices — Sliced cucumbers should be served plain.
- Filling garnishes — You can add cucumbers as a filling garnish to meals to help your dog feel more full. Prepare cucumbers accordingly to prevent choking.
Some types of cucumbers are bad for dogs, notably pickled cucumbers. These are smaller cucumbers often utilized for preserving with either vinegar, salt, sugar or water. Avoid feeding cucumbers with added salts and sugars, these can cause unwanted side effects.10
A report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also revealed that cucumbers are one of the many fruits and vegetables sold today that contain pesticide and herbicide residues.11,12 These harmful substances are usually found on cucumbers’ skin and can negatively impact your pet’s health when consumed excessively.13
Unless you’re sure that your cucumbers are organic, peel them before slicing and serving to your pets. If you have enough space in your home, grow your own cucumbers to reduce the risk of herbicide and pesticide contamination, and stay away from wax that’s typically applied on the vegetables.
Can Cats Eat Cucumbers?
Yes, cats may consume cucumbers too. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says this high-fiber vegetable is nontoxic for kitties.14 Although they don’t require as much fiber as humans, increasing your cats’ fiber intake slowly may boost their digestion, and in turn absorb water, increase stool bulk, and promote healthy and regular bowel movements.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities of cucumbers may help improve your cat’s well-being by shielding their body cells from free radicals and lowering their risk for cancer, heart disease, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.15 Just like with feeding cucumbers to dogs, only give your cat the right amount. Cats.How notes that cucumber’s high water content may trigger diarrhea if given excessively, so you may want to offer slices of this vegetable only occasionally as a treat.16
Cats and Dogs Are Allowed to Eat Cucumbers, but Don’t Overfeed Them
When given in the right amounts, cucumbers can be a worthwhile addition to your pet’s species-appropriate and nutritionally balanced diet. They can deliver good quantities of nutrients that can boost your pet’s quality of life and improve their overall well-being. Before incorporating them into your pet’s diet though, talk to a veterinarian to see if adding cucumbers is really safe for your dog or cat, and serve in moderation to avoid side effects.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Feeding Dogs and Cats Cucumbers
Q: Are cucumbers healthy for dogs?
A: Raw cucumbers can be beneficial for dogs because they are low in calories, and are able to deliver hydration, assist with weight loss, strengthen bones, joints and connective tissues, and promote better breath.17,18,19,20,21
Q: Are cucumbers toxic to dogs?
A: Cucumbers are not bad for dogs, but feeding your dogs too much of this vegetable may lead to side effects such as overeating, choking and gastrointestinal upsets.22
Q: Can dogs and cats eat cucumber skin?
A: It is safe for cats and dogs to eat cucumbers’ skin, provided that they’re organic. If you bought conventional cucumbers, peel off the skin before giving slices or servings to your pets. A report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed that the skins of different fruits and vegetables, including cucumbers, typically contain pesticide and herbicide residues.23,24 They can linger on cucumbers’ skin and harm your pet if consumed excessively.25
You can also try growing your own cucumbers at home if you have enough space for it, so you can reduce the risk of pesticide and herbicide contamination. Also, avoid consuming wax that is typically applied on commercially sold cucumbers.
Q: Can dogs eat cucumber seeds?
A: According to The Labrador Site, cucumbers seeds are safe for dogs to eat, although they can be scooped out prior to serving.26 However, take this with a grain of salt, since there is little evidence tackling cucumber seeds’ safety for dogs. The final decision still comes from you as a responsible pet owner. If you observe any negative effects after feeding cucumber seeds to your dog, remove them before serving.
Q: Are cucumber plants poisonous to cats and dogs?
A: There is little information about the cucumber plant’s potential toxicity to cats, but according to International Cat Care, pets who come into contact with the leaves of the cucumber plant may experience sneezing and eye problems.
If you’re growing vegetables at home, ensure that your cat stays away from areas where cucumber plants grow. Seek medical care immediately if any of the following reactions manifest. These typically occur if your cat touches the leaves, stems or sap of certain plants:27
- Rashes and hypersensitivity to sunlight, causing sunburn
- Blistering or itching of the mouth and gums that may be misdiagnosed as gingivitis