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Can Horses Eat Cucumbers? Health Benefits & Precautions

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Cucumbers are an excellent treat to feed your horse! They are a unique and low-calorie vegetable that many horses love to eat. They can be fed to horses in a number of different ways, making them an extremely versatile treat.

Can Horses Eat Cucumbers?

It is safe for most horses to eat cucumbers. Cucumbers have low calories and low sugar, making them a suitable treat for overweight horses and horses that suffer from insulin-resistance.

chopped fresh cucumbers

There are some things to watch out for when it comes to cucumbers and horses, so pay close attention. Most of our horses love treats and often try to steal our favorite foods from us, but it is important to know that not all of our food is safe for horses.

Luckily, cucumbers are usually safe for horses and they are extremely nutritious for them as well. This breakdown will help you navigate the wonderful world of cucumber treats and help you determine whether or not they are the right choice for your equine friend.

Health Benefits of Feeding Cucumbers to Horses

Not only are cucumbers low in calories, but they are also high in vitamins, making them super healthy for your horse as long as they are fed in moderation. Cucumbers contain high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins that help reduce inflammation in a horse’s body.

Did you know that water makes up an astounding 95% of a cucumber? Water is a very important necessity for horses, making cucumbers especially healthy for those horses that tend to need extra hydration. (source)

Cucumbers are also low in carbohydrates and sugar, which makes them a great treat choice for horses that have insulin-resistance. They are also low in calories, so you can feed them to horses that are overweight and you won’t be adding to the problem.

Finding suitable treats for these horses is difficult, but cucumbers just might be the answer you have been searching to find.

Cucumbers and Gas

A horse is rolling on a meadow

Cucumbers can cause gas in humans and horses thanks to a sneaky little substance in them known as cucurbitacin. This can cause gas to build up in some horses. Since horses cannot burp or belch, so this can cause them discomfort. (source)

If you notice that your horse has any discomfort after eating a cucumber treat, you should stop feeding cucumbers to them altogether.

There are plenty of other nutritious veggies that your horse will love. There is no reason to cause your horse any amount of discomfort, even if they act like cucumbers are their favorite food in the whole world.

Feed Cucumbers In Moderation

All treats fed to horses should be fed to them only in moderation. Remember, this is meant to be a treat, not a main food source replacement.

A horse’s digestive system requires stability and consistency. As a means to prevent digestive issues in horses, such as colic, you should only feed your horse a few pieces of cucumber per day.

To avoid any gas issues, I would limit them to a total of 2 cucumbers per week, just to be on the safe side.

You can chop up a cucumber and divide it out over a few days. This will prevent your horse from suffering from stomach issues while also providing an acceptable amount of treats. (source)

Some horses may be fine eating one cucumber each day, but it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to horses and any kind of treat. Preventing a problem is a lot cheaper than fixing one.

Precautions When Feeding Cucumbers to Horses

Two Eating Brown Horses

There are a few precautions every horse owner should take when feeding cucumber treats to their horse, aside from monitoring them for gas-related side effects.

Horses that have tooth issues or are missing teeth should not be fed large pieces of any food, including cucumbers.

If you want to feed them cucumbers, make sure you prepare them in a way that will make them easier for the horse to chew and digest.

This will prevent your horse from choking on a large piece of the vegetable that they were unable to chew properly. You should also do this for horses that eat their food too quickly and have a history of choking on their food.

Overfeeding is also a valid concern when it comes to feeding your horse cucumbers, but if you stick to the 1 to 2 cucumbers per week rule, your horse should be okay.

If your horse suffers from any digestive issues, you always should consult a vet before adding any foods to your horse’s diet.

Some Horses Should Not Eat Cucumbers

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Horses that have digestive problems or are prone to gas should avoid cucumbers. There is also a group of horses that should avoid cucumbers and any vegetables that contain moderate amounts of potassium.

These are horses that suffer from hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP) and they should not be fed cucumbers at all.

Horses with this disease will suffer extreme side effects if their potassium levels rise too high. Unfortunately, cucumbers are not the ideal treat for these horses.

Tips for Preparing Cucumber Treats for Your Horse

Wash It!

You should always wash any vegetables before preparing them for your horse. This removes any unhealthy chemicals or bacteria that may be on the outside.

Peel Or No Peel?

Decide whether you want to leave the peeling on or take it off. Either way is safe for your horse, but they may prefer it one way over the other.

Try feeding a small piece with peeling and one without to see if your horse favors one of them.

Chop, Slice or Shred

Fresh and sliced cucumbers

The easiest way to feed a cucumber to your horse is to cut it up in round slices and feed it piece by piece. Remember to think about your horse and any issues they may have, including dental problems.

If you think that your horse will have a hard time chewing the cucumber up or you think that they will eat it too quickly, you can always chop the cucumber up into smaller pieces.

If you want to, you can also try shredding it or even blending it in a food processor. You can then sprinkle that on top of your horse’s hay or grain for an easy-to-eat treat.

Always Introduce New Foods Slowly

Adding any new food to your horse’s diet should be a slow and steady process to avoid gastric upset. You will want to feed them only a couple of pieces first and then monitor their response for the next day.

You will want to look for any signs of distress including pawing, pacing, holding their heads low to the ground, or drastic changes in their typical demeanor. (source)

Key Things to Keep In Mind

  • Always talk to a vet before adding treats to your horse’s diet.
  • Steer clear of feeding cucumbers to horses with HYPP.
  • Avoid overfeeding cucumbers and limit horses to no more than 2 per week.
  • Keep an eye on your horse after feeding a cucumber treat.
  • Make sure that the cucumber doesn’t create too much gas in your horse.
  • Avoid feeding large pieces of cucumbers to horses with dental issues.

Final Thoughts

It is safe, for the most part, to feed cucumbers to your horse. There are some cases, however, where you should avoid cucumbers altogether.

Typically, most horses do not have any issues with small amounts of cucumbers, but you should always start small when introducing them to your horse.

Try feeding just one or two small pieces the first time and see how your horse responds. If there are no issues in the next 24 hours, then cucumbers should be safe for your horse, as long as you stick to the suggestions in this article.