The Risks and Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Squash


The Risks and Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Squash

You want to provide the best possible diet for your dog, so it’s a relief to know some human foods are healthy for him! Let’s look at the nutritional benefits of squash as well as some more risky ways of preparing the gourds to avoid. Tracey L. Kelley headshot
Tracey L. Kelley headshot By Tracey L. Kelley February 01, 2021 Advertisement Pin FB More Tweet Email Send Text Message Print dog with a background pattern of different squashes; can dogs eat squash?
dog with a background pattern of different squashes; can dogs eat squash? Credit: Gandee Vasan / Anastasia Nurullina / duckycards / chengyuzheng / Getty

If you'd like to prepare tasty treats for your canine pal, you can't go wrong with squash and zucchini. Dogs eat squash of all kinds, including winter and summer varieties. In fact, Michigan State University encourages families to create a dog garden—more than likely, your pooch will be eager to dig the plot!

But consider snack portions carefully. Richard Hill, VetMB, PhD, is board certified in small animal internal medicine and veterinary nutrition, and an associate professor at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville, Fla. He recommends that no more than 10 percent of a dog's diet come from unbalanced treats. "Dogs need to eat a 'complete and balanced diet' that contains all the essential nutrients the animal requires in the right proportions to maintain a lean body condition," he says. 

Squash has fewer calories, so it's less of a concern than other snacks. Hill says zucchini in particular can also be used to increase water consumption and be added as a filler to kibble to help satisfy a hungry dog without overextending caloric requirements. 

RELATED: The Best Vegetables for Dogs & Cats

What Types of Squash Can Dogs Eat? Your Top Questions Answered

Botanically, squashes are fruits, not vegetables, as they have seeds on the inside. Your pup doesn't care about this, but you should. Once you washed and peeled any type of squash, also remove the seeds and strings before preparation. This helps prevent gastrointestinal problems.

Most of the time, you'll want to steam or bake squashes without any seasoning, and they won't lose nutritional value. Some dogs eat raw squash too, such as shreds of zucchini frozen in an ice cube—a scrumptious 2-in-1 treat to cool them off on a sizzling summer day.

When strictly considering types of squash for dogs, you may be wondering which ones are safe and which ones should be avoided.

  • Acorn squash? Yes, especially when roasted and added to a meat dish or kibble. 
  • Butternut squash? Absolutely. Although good anytime, if your pup is under the weather with digestion issues, like diarrhea, it provides electrolytes. 
  • Fried squash? No. The saturated fat of fried foods isn't good for your pooch and might also cause stomach problems.
  • Pumpkin? Yes, a dish of healthy baked pumpkin is a satisfying treat but there's a tangle of seeds and strings to remove, so be patient!
  • Spaghetti squash? Absolutely. Simply run a fork across the inside and lightly steam a portion.
  • Summer squash? Yes! Clear out the garden and let your dog eat yellow squash once or twice a week by chopping and boiling it as a treat.
  • Zucchini? Positively a good snack for pups cooked or raw.

RELATED: The Best Vegetables for Dogs & Cats

Other Fruits and Vegetables Dogs Can Eat Besides Squash

Here are some additional and inexpensive human food treats to feed your dog in moderation:

  • Bananas, as long as they're peeled
  • Blueberries, one at a time to make sure he chews them
  • Broccoli, raw or cooked 
  • Carrots, raw or cooked
  • Cucumbers, seeds removed
  • Green beans, raw, frozen, or cooked
  • Peaches, peeled and pit removed
  • Potatoes, cooked and unseasoned
  • Sweet potatoes, cooked and unseasoned

VCA Hospitals state dogs are omnivores and thrive with a well-balanced diet of animal protein, fruits, and vegetables. But as with all with dietary considerations, be sure to first consult your veterinarian so the two of you can make the best plan for your dogs optimum nutrition.

RELATED: 10 Toxic Human Foods Dogs & Cats Should Never Eat

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