Can horses indulge in those long, crunchy greens we love adding to salads, you ask? Absolutely. In fact, cucumbers can be delicious and healthy treats for your equine companion.
But as with any new treat you’re feeding your horse, it’s important for horse owners to understand the considerations and precautions.
Keep reading to learn about the potential health benefits and risks of feeding your horse cucumber, including some helpful tips on incorporating cucumbers into your horse’s diet safely.
Will horses eat cucumber though? See what happened when we tried to feed it to some of our horses
Nutritional Content of Cucumbers
Few foods are as cool as a cucumber, and there are some interesting nutritional values they offer. Besides being deliciously crunchy and refreshing, cucumbers are packed with valuable nutrients and hydrating properties.
Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional value found in one-half cup of sliced cucumber (52g), with the peel:
Fat: 0.1 g
Sodium: 1 mg
Carbohydrate: 1.9 g
Fibre: 0.3 g
Sugar: 0.9 g
Protein: 0.3 g
Vitamin K: 8.5 mcg
Vitamin C: 1.5 mg
Potassium: 76.4 mg
Vitamin B5: 0.1 mg
Magnesium: 6.8 mg
The Health Benefits of Feeding Your Horse Cucumbers
From their low-calorie content to their rich vitamin and antioxidant content, cucumbers can be a great addition to a horse’s balanced diet.
Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of feeding cucumbers to horses:
Cucumbers are brimming with potassium, calcium and vitamins. These nutrients work wonders for promoting strong and healthy bones in horses, especially during physically demanding activities.
But that’s not all. Cucumber skin also brings an extra bonus to the table, offering natural dietary fibres that can help maintain a healthy and efficient digestive system.
Rich in Water
Keeping our equine friends hydrated is essential, especially on those hot summer days. Besides drinking water, horses can benefit from consuming hydrating foods, like cucumber, too.
Cucumbers are made up of 96% water, making them an excellent choice for horses that may not be drinking enough water or are at risk of dehydration.
Low Sugar and Carbohydrate Content
Thanks to their low calorie, sugar, and carb content, cucumbers serve as guilt-free snacks for horses that are on the heavier side.
The low sugar content in cucumbers also makes them great for horses with insulin resistance. A cucumber won’t spike their sugar levels, making it a refreshing alternative.
Great Source of Antioxidants
Cucumbers are loaded with antioxidants which help to fight off all those pesky free radicals that can cause inflammation in your horse’s body.
Horses will also benefit from an enzyme found in cucumbers called triterpenoids. These enzymes have remarkable anti-inflammatory properties. So if your horse is dealing with arthritis or any other inflammatory issues, cucumbers might just become their new best friend!
How to Incorporate Cucumber into Your Horse’s Diet Safely
Preparing cucumber treats for your horse doesn’t require a lot of work, but there are a few important factors to keep in mind:
How to Prepare Cucumbers for Horses
Wash thoroughly: First things first, always make sure to wash the produce. Cleaning off any harmful substances and dirt is important for your horse’s health.
Skin on or off: This comes down to your horse’s preference. Either way, your horse will be perfectly safe. You can start by giving them a small piece of peeled cucumber and another piece of unpeeled cucumber and see what they like best.
Chop them up: This depends on your horse’s needs. Some horses can eat cucumbers as they are, while others may need bite-sized chunks.
Cucumber juice option: If your equine friend has dental issues, consider blending the cucumbers into juice and mixing it in their horse feed. This way, they can still enjoy the refreshing taste and nutritional benefits without struggling.
It’s as simple as that.
Precautions While Feeding Cucumber to Horses
While horses can indulge in some crunchy cucumbers, there are a few precautions that every horse owner should take:
Introduce cucumbers gradually with small portions: This is exceptionally important to ensure your horse does not have an allergic reaction.
Feed in moderation: Remember, this is a treat, not a main staple in their diet. A horse’s digestive system thrives on stability and consistency. So, to prevent potential digestive issues, only feed them cucumbers every once in a while.
Always consult your vet: You should always check with your vet before introducing new food to your horse. This is especially important if your horse is prone to digestive problems.
Monitor after feeding: Keep a regular check and carefully monitor the physical and behavioural changes after feeding it cucumber (or any new diet).
How Much Cucumber Can Horses Eat?
When introducing new food to your horse, it’s always wise to start small. This way, you can watch how they respond, and if everything goes well, you can increase the amount over a few days.
In terms of how much cucumber your horse can munch on, this will depend on their size and activity level. Generally, around 150 grams of cucumber is fine.
You can take these guidelines as a starting point, but remember that they’re rough estimates:
Ponies and miniature horses weighing less than 400 kg with low activity levels: 1-2 pieces per day (once a week).
Average-sized riding horses weighing between 400 kg and 600 kg that engage in regular work but aren’t competing intensely: 12 pieces per day (once a week).
Draught horses weighing above 600 kg with moderate activity levels: 8 pieces per day (once a week).
Should Horses Eat Cucumber?
Cucumbers can definitely be a tasty treat for horses, whether you want to reward them for their good behaviour during training or give them a little boost of motivation during exercise sessions.
But, it’s important to remember that every horse is unique. While many horses will happily munch on cucumbers, not all of them will have the same positive reaction.
You Shouldn’t Feed Cucumbers to These Horses…
Horses with Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (hypp)
Feeding cucumbers to horses with Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP) can be problematic. This is because cucumbers are quite high in potassium and horses with HYPP are particularly sensitive to potassium.
Horses with Digestive Problems
If your horse has gastrointestinal issues, it’s best to avoid giving them cucumbers. This is because they contain a substance called cucurbitacin which can lead to an accumulation of gas in their digestive systems. Unlike humans, horses can’t belch or burp, so this may cause discomfort.
Can horses eat cucumbers in a salad?
No, horses shouldn’t eat cucumber salad or cucumbers from a salad. While cucumbers themselves are safe for horses to eat, salads and cucumber salads often contain ingredients like onion and avocado which can be toxic to them.
What are the symptoms of overfeeding cucumbers to horses?
Too much cucumber for horses can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as bloating and gas due to the cucurbitacin substance found in cucumber. Overfeeding cucumber may also potentially disrupt the electrolyte balance in your horse’s body.