Last Updated on January 4, 2023
It is nice to feed your horse some healthy treats from time to time, but can horses eat cucumber? Or is cucumber toxic to horses? Let’s find out!
What Veggies Can Horses Eat? – Can Horses Eat Cucumber?
Horses have a very specialist digestive system, which means they can only eat certain types of foods. These large animals are herbivores, which means they only eat plants. They digest this plant material in the very efficient large intestine, which ferments food to break it down into energy.
This means that horses can eat large quantities of grass and hay, and the digestive system will be able to extract enough nutrition to keep the horse fit and healthy. Although the bulk of the horses diet is made up of grass and hay, in the wild horses will browse herbs, plants, tree trees, and hedges. They enjoy the flavors of many different types of plants and some of them also have medicinal benefits.
Domesticated horses don’t have the opportunity to forage for different plants in the same way that wild horses do. However, we can provide them with different snacks and treats as part of their daily food intake to provide a varied diet. Some of these different foods have nutritional benefits, while others are fed just as a treat.
For example, horses that are doing a large amount of work have higher energy needs. These horses will be fed a diet that is higher in protein and fats, normally from grains or oils. Young growing horses and horses used for breeding purposes also have higher energy needs.
As well as commercial horse feeds, you can also supplement your horses’ diet with different vegetables. These do not provide much energy but are packed full of beneficial vitamins and minerals. The most well-known treats that people feed their horses are apples and carrots, but they can eat many other types of fruit and vegetables besides these.
Can Horses Have Cucumbers?
Cucumbers may not seem like an obvious snack for horses, but they can be fed to horses if prepared safely and correctly. Horses can have cucumbers in moderation, but certain precautions need to be taken to prevent any unwanted side effects.
An important thing to remember is not to feed too much cucumber to your horse. Cucumbers contain a substance called cucurbitacin, which can cause bloating in horses. They can tolerate this in small amounts, but large quantities will cause gastrointestinal bloating and colic symptoms.
Horses may also struggle to chew large chunks of cucumber into small enough pieces to swallow. This can be a particular issue in older horses or horses with dental problems. So while most horses will probably attempt to bite into a whole cucumber, it is advisable to cut it into smaller pieces first.
The best way to serve cucumber to horses is cut into round slices or batons. Start with just a small amount initially and if your horse eats these without any problems, the next time you can feed slightly more. If you notice any signs of abdominal discomfort or bloating, then do not feed cucumber to your horse again.
Horses that suffer from a condition called Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP) should not be given cucumbers. These horses are very sensitive to high levels of potassium in the diet, and cucumbers are very high in this nutrient.
Do Horses Like Cucumbers? Can Horses Eat Cucumber?
Most horses like cucumbers, but not all. Some horses have more adventurous taste than others and will happily try new and unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. Younger horses tend to be more inquisitive and open to trying new foods, whilst older horses will stick to what they know they like eating.
The good thing about feeding cucumbers to horses is that they are very healthy, low calorie snack. They do not have any huge nutritional benefits, but they can be fed to horses who are obese, overweight or on a diet without the risk of making them fat. Cucumbers are also very high in water, making them a refreshing treat on a hot summers day or after an intense workout.
Read more about Can Horses Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Can Horses Eat Cucumber Peel?
The peel of cucumber is safe for horses to eat, and most horses can bite through this without any problems. However, the cucumber should be washed first to remove any residue of chemicals such as pesticides from the skin of the cucumber. The peel of the cucumber contains concentrated amounts of nutrients which are very beneficial to the horse.
Can Donkeys Eat Cucumbers?
Like horses, some donkeys will enjoy eating cucumbers, whilst others will turn their nose up at them. Cucumbers are a safe and healthy snack for donkeys, which can be refreshing on a hot summers day. They contain high levels of water and other beneficial nutrients.
As most donkeys tend to be relatively small compared to horses, they should be fed less cucumber. Start with just a few small slices and monitor your donkey carefully for any signs of abdominal discomfort. It can be difficult to tell when a donkey is in pain, as the signs tend to be very subtle.
Remember that cucumbers would not normally make up part of the donkey’s natural diet and should only be fed as an occasional treat. The bulk of the food given to your donkey should consist of roughage in the form of grass or hay. Monitor your donkeys weight carefully and cut down on sugary treats if he becomes overweight or obese.
Check Out Can Horses Eat Spinach?
Summary – Can Horses Eat Cucumber?
So, as we have learned, horses can eat cucumber, but only in moderation and if they have been prepared correctly first. When too much cucumber is fed to a horse, it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and bloat. Cucumbers should be washed to remove residues of pesticides and sliced into rounds or batons before being fed to horses.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on whether horses can eat cucumber! Does your horse like to eat unusual fruits and vegetables? Or maybe you’ve got some questions about how much cucumber to feed to your horse? Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE