Can dogs eat squash and zucchini? It’s a question you have possibly asked yourself if your dog has looked intrigued with your meal, or possibly when you’ve had squash or zucchini leftover and wondered if it would be safe to add to your dog’s dinner.
A lot of dogs enjoy veggies and will make a beeline for an allotment – or shopping bag – eager to share their human’s food, but not all of it is safe for them.
There is conflicting advice out there, regarding dogs eating different types of fruits and vegetables. Whereas one website may suggest a certain vegetable is highly nutritious for dogs, another website could tell you it could be harmful. There is a lot of confusion around squash and zucchini in particular.
This is why the experts at Canine Weekly have put together a factual, informative, and helpful guide to answer your questions and concerns about dogs eating squash and zucchini, how to feed them, and what alternatives there are for you to consider instead.
Can Dogs Eat Squash and Zucchini? Your Questions Answered.
You’re right to be cautious when it comes to feeding your dogs vegetables or other considered human foods. Certain vegetables can be extremely harmful to dogs, causing stomach upsets, digestive problems, or they could even be fatal. There are many human foods that are good for dogs too and zucchini and squash have a lot of health benefits, for both humans and canines.
Zucchini and squash are perfectly safe for dogs and actually two of the better vegetables to feed them. However, just because they are safe for a dog to eat, they should still be offered in moderation. As with all foods, there are some things you need to know to ensure that you have feeding zucchini and squash to your dog safely.
The Benefits of Zucchini for Dogs
Zucchini is highly nutritious, packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber that all promote good health. Dogs who are fed complete and balanced dog food should be getting all of the nutrients they need, so extra vegetables aren’t necessary for their nutritional value – generally speaking.
Dogs who have an illness, or disorder, that affects their ability to absorb the nutrients they need will likely be under a veterinarian or have a specialist diet food. If this is the case then you should consult your veterinarian before giving any new foods to your dog.
Although a healthy dog may not need extra vegetables for its nutritional benefits, they can be offered as an alternative to high-calorie treats. For example, one cup of zucchini (raw) has around 20 calories so it isn’t going to add to a dog’s waistline. This makes zucchini an excellent treat for overweight dogs.
How Much Zucchini is too Much Zucchini?
Even the healthiest of foods should be fed in moderation, too much goodness can have the opposite effect you were wanting and cause stomach upsets and illnesses in dogs – and people! It is recommended by veterinarians that treats should account for 10% of a dog’s diet, which is a simple way to work out how much zucchini is appropriate for your dog.
How much zucchini a dog can have will depend on the size of the breed, for example, a large breed could be consuming four times the amount of food as a smaller breed. To determine the right amount of zucchini for your dog, you need to work out what 10% of his diet would be and ensure that you stay beneath that limit.
Generally, dogs will tolerate zucchini very well but much like humans, dogs can simply not like the taste or texture of new food. When you first offer zucchini – or any new food – to your dog, observe his behavior. This is especially important for raw vegetables that could pose a choking hazard, especially if not properly diced.
What’s the Best Way to Feed Zucchini to a Dog?
It is often thought that raw vegetables are healthier than cooked vegetables, but this isn’t always the case. Raw zucchini has a very similar nutrition profile as cooked zucchini, the marginal difference is that cooked zucchini has a little less Vitamin A but more Vitamin C.
A dog’s vitamin requirement should be taken care of within their dog food, but certain supplements can help with things like skin, fur, hips and joints, and teeth.
If your dog has difficulty chewing harder foods then you could offer cooked zucchini, but it must have been boiled or steamed without any added ingredients, such as salt, garlic, or other seasonings which can be harmful to dogs.
Diced, raw zucchini can make a tasty and healthy treat on the go and used as training treats. As long as the pieces are smaller than the dog’s throat this should reduce the risk of choking. A tip is to cut it long and thin, rather than a cuboid shape, so that it will go down the throat more easily.
The Benefits of Eating Squash for Dogs
Squash is low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with nutrients and vitamins that are all great for a dog’s long-term health. If you have decided to avoid manufactured dog foods altogether and make your own food for dogs, books like Canine Cuisine – Natural Recipes will include lots of squash dishes as its health benefits are pretty huge.
Are There Any Risks From Feeding Squash to Dogs?
Squash is technically a fruit and when it comes to what fruits dogs can eat not all of it is safe. Even safe fruits, when given in large quantities, can cause issues such as; vomiting, nausea, hyperactivity or diarrhea, and intestinal upset.
The only danger, when it comes to feeding squash to a dog, is difficulty digesting. Raw squash will be tough on a dog’s stomach so you should always cook it first and remove the seeds and skin before you do so. It’s better to steam it than roast or boil, to keep in its vitamin and mineral properties.
What’s The Best Squash for Dogs?
All varieties of squash are safe for a dog to eat. Most dogs will like the taste of squash, or at the least be able to tolerate it, and squashes like pumpkin and butternut squash can even help with stomach upsets like diarrhea.
There are actually 100 types of squash but the good news is that none of them are harmful to dogs.
Alternatives to Squash and Zucchini You Can Feed Your Dog
If you want to enrich a dogs diet, or are looking for fruit and vegetable alternatives to dog treats, here are some of the healthiest and safest options:
- Apples (without the core or seeds)
- Bananas (due to their high sugar content, bananas should be an occasional treat only)
- Broccoli (very small quantities, the high fiber content broccoli has can cause diarrhea if eaten in excess)
- Brussel sprouts
- Green beans
- Mango (remove the stone)
- Oranges (seedless and peeled)
- Pickles (read more about this here)
- Watermelon (we have written about this in more detail here)
There are a wide number of fruit and vegetables a dog can safely enjoy, but there are also some which can be harmful or even toxic. Some of the more popular fruits and vegetables you need to avoid giving to your dog include; raisins, onions, garlic, rhubarb, and avocado.
Can Dogs Eat Squash and Zucchini? The Verdict
Squash and zucchini are perfectly safe for dogs to eat. Remember to stick to the 10 percent rule for treats and ensure that your dog is eating well-balanced dog food, or look into making your own by following dog-specific recipe books.
At Canine Weekly we have previously written guides for the best-wet dog food for large breeds and more health-specific guides for owners of dogs with sensitive stomachs, diabetes, or arthritis.
When you’re looking at buying a manufactured dog food it’s important to look at what ingredients are in that food. Many cheaper foods can be primarily made up with low-cost, low-nutrition foods such as grains, which will fill a dog up but not do much in the way of optimizing health.
Brands like Purina Pro Plan are made with high-quality protein and real chicken as their first ingredient. If you don’t see meat as a first ingredient, this means it has a lower (if at all) meat content. Complete dog food should have all the vitamins and minerals a dog needs for good health, but it can always be enriched by adding vegetables like squash or zucchini.
Squash and zucchini make great natural dog treats and are incredibly affordable too. If you meal prep for yourself, you could slice and dice squash and zucchini and pack them in food storage containers to preserve them well and feed them to your dog when you’re out and about.
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.