Cucumbers are a low-risk, healthy snack for dogs, as long as you serve them up plain in small bites. They are low in calories, contain almost no fat or sodium, and the only real danger they present is possible gastrointestinal upset, or if your dog eats a large chunk all at once and has trouble swallowing.
Basic Cucumbers are a Good Treat
Raw cucumber cut into small, bite-sized pieces is the best option if want to treat your dog with this vegetable. The flesh of a cucumber is high in water content, which helps your dog stay hydrated, and fiber, which may help prevent your dog from becoming constipated.
Giving your dog a whole cucumber is not a good idea. Always cut it up into small pieces that are appropriate for your dog. A tiny, tenacious eater might try to gobble up the whole cucumber all at once, and if swallowed whole, the skin or flesh may present a choking hazard.
Other cuke preparations might be safe for your dog, but avoid feeding any cucumber that has been heavily sauced, spiced up, or done up with salad dressing. Serve cucumber plain. It is OK to steam or bake the cucumber -- without adding oil or salt -- if you would like to make it a little easier for your dog to chew.
One form of cucumber is not healthy for dogs. This is cucumber that has been pickled. The process adds a lot of salt, and pickles are not a good treat for dogs. Stick with raw or gently cooked, unseasoned cucumber pieces for your dog.
How Much Is Too Much?
Cucumber is low in calories and doesn't contain anything that is toxic to your dog. A few slices, cut up to an appropriate size, make great treats -- assuming your dog enjoys them. As long as these are easy for your dog to chew, they should be fine. Always consult with your veterinarian before changing your dog's diet.
It's better to offer a single slice or piece of cucumber at a time, rather than give your dog a handful all at once. Use the cucumber as a treat to help with training, or put a small slice or two on top of their food to stimulate their appetite. It's a good idea to offer cucumber to younger dogs so they learn to enjoy the taste.
Be careful about the skin of the cucumber, especially if your dog eats quickly without chewing their food thoroughly. It is important to size each piece of cucumber to your dog. If your dog is especially small, or otherwise has issues chewing, remove the skin and cut cucumber into cubes.
Typically, you should limit calories from treats and other occasional food sources to 10 percent of a dog's diet. This means that 90 percent of your dog's daily caloric intake should come from their primary diet -- whether that is a kibble-based diet, a wet food diet, or other type of diet.
Cucumbers are great treats for overweight dogs, because they are low in calories and help with digestion. Just don't overdo it. Use your cucumber treat as a way to motivate your dog to get out and exercise, and as a training aid.
Preparing Cucumber as a Treat
Raw cucumber is a fine, crunchy treat for your dog, in moderation. However, you might like to offer a cooked cuke occasionally, especially if a softer treat is better for your dog. There are several ways you can prepare cucumbers for your dog.
First, make sure you thoroughly wash all cucumbers before offering pieces to your dog. This helps remove any pesticides or unwanted contaminates. Typically, thoroughly wiping down cucumber skins while holding them under running tap water removes most unwanted chemicals. If your dog has a compromised immune system, is in poor health, or is otherwise sensitive to pesticides, you can remove the skin entirely to be safe.
Steaming cukes is one of the best ways to cook them for dogs. You can also bake cucumbers to soften them for your dog. Simply cut your cukes into thin slices and steam or bake them until they are soft.
You can also combine cucumber with other dog-safe foods to make an enticing treat for your pet. Add some dog-safe, natural peanut butter or natural pumpkin puree on top of a thin cucumber slice, or freeze small cuke cubes as a cool treat in the hot summer months. As long as you don't overdo it and stick to the 10 percent rule, these creative options can mix it up for our dog and make cucumber irresistible.
Keep It Simple
As a low-calorie, non-toxic treat, cucumber is an excellent option for your dog. Make sure that the size of pieces you offer to your pet are reasonable, and practice moderation. If your dog enjoys these crunchy vegetables, you can use them as an excellent tool to help with training and as a fun treat.