If you’re cooking some zucchini or pumpkin for dinner, you might wonder if it’s safe to feed squash to your dog. The answer is yes! Dogs can eat squash and in fact, the vegetable (technically a fruit) has a number of health benefits for dogs, and it’s a smart staple for a dog’s balanced diet.
Benefits of squash for dogs
1. High in fiber
Like many other fruits and vegetables, squash contains fiber that helps your dog feel full and help keeps their digestive system running smoothly. If you have a dog who is always hungry, adding fiber to their diet from healthy sources like squash can help them feel full for longer.
2. Low in calories
Squashes are lower in calories and therefore suitable for dogs who are looking to lose a few pounds. They have a high water content and plenty of fiber to help your pup feel full without adding too many calories. If you have a dog that is underweight, they can also enjoy squash but chat with your vet about pairing it with good sources of protein and fat to help them gain weight the healthy way.
3. Packed with vitamins and nutrientsIn the Natural Pet Food Cookbook, Wendy Nan Rees and Kevin Schlanger, DVM, say that squash “has lots of beta carotene and vitamin A…Plus, it’s naturally sweet which dogs love. Many kinds of squash are also rich in potassium, which helps to maintain electrolyte balance." Ollie includes freshly cooked squash in a number of its recipes so that dogs can reap these excellent health benefits.
Risks of feeding squash to your dog
When it comes to squash for dogs, the only real danger is difficulty digesting. Remove the rough bits (seeds and skin) and cook the squash before feeding it to your dog. Raw squash is especially tough may be tough on your dog’s stomach, causing diarrhea or vomiting. It’s best to steam or bake squash before giving it to your pup.
Leave out unnecessary butter or oil and skip garlic or onions, which can be toxic for dogs. If your dog has a sweet tooth, its okay to add some cinnamon to your squash (especially pumpkin or butternut squash) but you should also skip any added sugar.
Best kinds of squash for dogs
Dogs can eat all different sorts of squash. Here are some of the benefits of the most common varieties you might find in the grocery store.
1. Butternut squash
This slightly awkwardly shaped squash has a boatload of health benefits for dogs. It’s especially rich in potassium (one cup contains more than a whole banana!), which is critical when it comes to the functioning of kidneys, muscles, nerves, and enzymes.
Pureed pumpkin is a popular anecdote for dogs experiencing constipation. The soluble fiber helps to get things moving without adverse effects. Pumpkin is also rich in carotenoids for better skin and eye health and the anti-inflammatory vitamin E. Try making these healthy pumpkin dog treats that your pup will love.
Easier to digest than most squashes, zucchini is usually well-tolerated by dogs and can be eaten raw with the seeds. The long green squash is rich in potassium, beta-carotene, and folate, which is important for cell health and maintaining a quickly ticking metabolism.
4. Acorn Squash
This cute little squash is rich in vitamin V, folate, and vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-6 helps promote healthy digestion and a shiny coat. Acorn squash is especially high in vitamin C as well, which is best enjoyed by dogs in moderation and excessive amounts can lead to calcium oxalate stones.
Remember, any time you introduce a new food to your dog, it’s best to do so slowly! Try mixing a spoonful of cooked squash into your dog’s food and see how he fares. If your dog loves squash and it agrees with his digestive system, this is a great vegetable to include in a healthy diet.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.