Can I Give My Dog Zucchini?
With summer comes zucchini, a delicious squash that has worked its way into all sorts of dishes in recent years. While it has always held a noble place atop many a salad, the zucchini has found a home in everything from casseroles to tater tots all the way to cakes and muffins. Add in the spiralized vegetable frenzy, and many of us are up to our noses in all things zucchini.
So, once we have taught our kids to love zucchini, the next question is this: can we feed it to our four-legged family members? Can dogs have zucchini? Though we delight in this versatile summer squash’s health benefits for humans, we are haunted by incessant warnings from veterinarians that all make the same argument: do not give your dog people food!
When it comes to squash, though, you can make an exception. Dogs can eat zucchini, and many of them will gobble it up eagerly. Unlike the deadly trio of grapes, chocolate, and xylitol, zucchini is not at all toxic to dogs. Your pet-doctor’s food restrictions may sound scary, but in reality, when your veterinarian looks at your pudgy Poodle and tells you to stop feeding them table scraps, they are referring mostly to high-calorie junk foods. Zucchini is most likely not the culprit.
In fact, if your spoiled canine friend gets upset when they are excluded from family dinners, zucchini may be one of the best ingredients you can share with them. Zucchini is extremely low in calories—only 54 calories for an entire large zucchini—so it is unlikely to cause your pup to pack on the pounds. Actually, for dogs who are overweight, zucchini may be an excellent treat choice, because it will take up space in their stomach without supplying a lot of calories. With all that occupied space in their belly, they are less likely to whine at having their dog food portions reduced. This makes weight loss easier for them and far less guilt-inducing for you!
Their low-calorie, appetite-suppressing powers are thanks mostly to zucchinis’ high fiber content. Fiber, which can be soluble or insoluble, is the name for the plant matter that humans and dogs are incapable of digesting. Even a large zucchini is made mostly of this indigestible fiber, which passes right through the body without being absorbed. Since much of the zucchini’s bulk cannot be absorbed, your dog’s body only takes in a few calories.
Fiber does more than encourage weight loss. In addition to preventing colon cancer, fiber helps regulate the digestive system by adding bulk to dogs’ stools. This can help with constipation, provided the dog drinks enough water. It can also ease diarrhea, because the high fiber content soaks up excess water in the colon and helps to create firmer, less watery bowel movements.
While zucchini does not provide a significant source of calories, it has high concentrations of micro-nutrients like potassium, beta carotene, calcium, Vitamin C, and folate. A chronic, serious deficiency in any of these micro-nutrients requires veterinary care, but if you just want to give your dog a little bit of a ‘boost,’ zucchini is an excellent choice to support your dog’s digestive and immune systems.
Things to Keep in Mind
Though zucchini is less likely to cause diarrhea than fruits, it is wise to feed it to your dog in moderation. Dogs, unlike humans, did not evolve to eat large amounts of plant matter, so they may experience digestive distress if they eat too much fiber. Keep the serving sizes relatively small, and if your dog’s stomach gets upset, give them a break from the high-fiber summer squash.
Very rarely, a dog will develop an allergy to zucchini—obviously, if this is the case, do not share. Other than food allergies, there are no real health risks associated with zucchini itself. The most important consideration is to keep in mind how the zucchini is prepared. We may love this squash variety baked into muffins, or pan fried and covered in spices, but neither of these are good choices for our dogs. The high sugar, fat, and salt content of many of our favorite zucchini dishes can be harmful to our canine companions. If you decide to give them zucchini, it is best to give it to them raw, steamed, or roasted. Minimize or omit spices, which can be high in sodium and may upset your dog’s stomach.
Zucchini can be an excellent choice for dog owners looking to provide their pets with a simple, healthy, low-calorie treat to celebrate summer’s bounty. The fiber content can aid in weight loss and digestive health, and a smattering of micro-nutrients found in zucchini may boost immunity. As with all people food, keep the serving size small, avoid adding too much salt, sugar or fat, and monitor your dog’s response. This is one food Fido doesn’t have to miss out on!
Dog Eating Zucchini Video: