The old saying goes that the quickest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach — the same is true for dogs! Nothing can make your furry friend happy quite like a nice tasty treat. However, instead of reaching for a doggy treat, why not give your pooch something healthier, like zucchini?
Zucchini is a tasty, low-calorie vegetable with many health benefits for humans. However, is it healthy for your four-legged friend as well? Can dogs eat zucchini? If you’re considering adding this summer squash to your puppy’s diet, here is everything you should know about safely feeding zucchini to your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Zucchini?
Dogs belong to the Canidae family of mammals, the same family that includes carnivorous predators like wolves, foxes, and jackals. Therefore, it makes sense that dogs are completely carnivorous too.
However, this isn’t exactly true. In fact, if you look at a dog’s anatomy, it more closely resembles that of an omnivore. They have teeth with a relatively flat surface, which can effectively tear meat as well as grind down plant materials.
Likewise, their small intestine makes up roughly 23% of their entire gastrointestinal system. This is consistent with other omnivores that need larger intestines to process tough plant fibers.
As if that is not proof enough, dogs can also generate their own arachidonic acid from vegetable oils. This is something true carnivores, like cats, can’t do. All this is to say that dogs can absolutely enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including zucchini.
In fact, vets say that this delicious summer squash is one of the best veggies your furry friend can eat. It’s loaded with plenty of vitamins and minerals to help support a dog’s health. However, just like with any other food, quantity matters. Feeding your dog too much zucchini can also harm them and give them gut issues.
Therefore, if you plan to include zucchini in your pet’s diet, add it as a treat, and feed it to them in moderation.
5 Health Benefits of Zucchini for Dogs
If you look up the best veggies to give your dog, zucchini will regularly be near the top. It’s nutritious, tasty, and has plenty of health benefits to keep your four-legged friend happy.
1. It’s Loaded With Vitamins
Zucchini is a veritable vitamin bomb. This delicious vegetable is loaded with vitamins A, C, B6, and K, all of which are needed for maintaining various bodily functions. For example, vitamin A is essential for sustaining healthy eyesight.
It actually helps the eyes transform light into electrical signals to send to the brain to interpret as images. Vitamin C is a powerhouse nutrient that supports everything from muscle repair to bone and skin regeneration and tissue development.
Plus, the vitamin is famous for its immune-boosting properties. While it can’t cure illnesses, it does play a role in helping the body fight them off.
B6 is a part of the larger group of B Vitamins, and the body uses it to help convert proteins, fats, and sugars into energy. In contrast, vitamin K is essential for regulating calcium levels and bone metabolism. In short, feeding zucchini to your furry friend will help them keep a healthy coat, strong bones, and a well-functioning immune system.
2. It Contains a Plethora of Beneficial Minerals
Next to vitamins, zucchini is filled to bursting with beneficial minerals. Two of the most prominent ones are manganese and potassium. Potassium is a well-known nutrient, especially among fitness fanatics, because of its ability to support muscle growth.
This mineral helps the body metabolize protein and drive it into the muscles. It also regulates the heartbeat and maintains the proper function of the nervous system.
On the other hand, manganese is a more obscure mineral, one that plays an equally important role in how the body metabolizes fat and carbs. It’s particularly beneficial for elderly dogs suffering from bone issues because it increases calcium absorption.
3. It’s Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are an underrated nutrient you and your pooch need to protect the body from harm. Zucchini is loaded with a subgroup of antioxidants called carotenoids, specifically beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are essential for protecting the body against free radicals — unstable molecules that damage cells.
So, getting your pet to snack on zucchini will help prevent them from getting various skin, eye, or heart conditions. Plus, it may even reduce their risk of developing certain cancers!
4. It Keeps Your Dog’s Gut Healthy
Not only is zucchini loaded with plenty of nutrients, but it’s also rich in fiber! Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Instead, it passes through the stomach and bowels, helping slow down digestion and regulate blood sugar levels.
Plus, it also promotes gut motility, which ensures regular bowel movements. All in all, it’s essential for maintaining a well-functioning gut, not just in humans but in dogs too.
With 1g of fiber per cup, zucchini is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Therefore, it’s an excellent treat to keep your pet’s tummy healthy!
5. It’s Very Low-Calorie
Possibly the most underrated benefit of zucchini is that it’s super low-calorie. At just 20 calories per half-cup, zucchini is a great treat you can give your dog if they have weight issues. Though dog treats can make your pooch happy, most aren’t good for their waistline.
Some doggy treats can contain as many calories as two, sometimes three, donuts. Even for a larger canine, this can result in some pretty hefty weight gain, especially if you let them indulge too often.
So, to keep your dog at a healthy weight, you can give them zucchini in place of doggy treats. Granted, it may not be as tasty to them, but it certainly is better for their health long term.
How to Feed Zucchini to Your Dog: 3 Easy Tips
Both humans and dogs can benefit from including zucchini in their diets. However, as healthy as this squash is, not everyone will enjoy the taste. Dogs, in particular, may struggle to eat it, especially if you’ve previously fed them a diet full of canned dog foods and plenty of unhealthy treats. But don’t let that discourage you.
There are three easy tricks you can use to make this veggie more appealing to your pooch.
1. Chop It Up Into Smaller Chunks
Before you can worry about whether or not your dog will like zucchini, you first have to make sure they can actually eat it. Zucchini is a medium-sized vegetable, so feeding an entire head of zucchini to your dog is not feasible. It won’t be very appetizing to them, and it could potentially be a choking hazard.
Therefore, to make the veggie safe, chop it up into slices or small cubes. If you’re not strapped for time, you can even cut the squash to more closely resemble your dog’s favorite treats. While they’ll certainly know the difference, it may help make the veggie more appealing.
2. Feed It to Them Alongside Other Treats
Just like humans, dogs also need to go through a period of food exposure to start eating a certain type of food regularly. So, to get your dog to start eating zucchini, introduce it alongside other favorite treats. For example, smear some peanut butter on a couple of zucchini slices, and give it to your pet.
Alternatively, you can also sneak in zucchini slices alongside cuts of their favorite meat, like chicken or beef.
3. Puree It Into Their Regular Food
Sometimes, no amount of trickery can get a dog to eat a veggie they don’t like. In that case, you can resort to the tried and true method of pureeing. You can use a blender and add finely minced zucchini into your dog’s regular food bowl. You can also cook and mash the zucchini to get a finer texture.
1. Can dogs have cooked zucchini?
Cooked zucchini is absolutely safe for dogs to consume. In fact, it may actually be more beneficial for your furry friend if they have teeth issues or trouble chewing.
2. Can dogs have raw zucchini?
If you think your dog won’t enjoy the texture of cooked zucchini, then you can feed it to them raw. Raw zucchini is also safe for canines to eat. Plus, it has a satisfying crunch your pet will absolutely love.
3. Can dogs eat zucchini with skin?
Like all other parts of the zucchini, zucchini skin won’t hurt your dog. What’s more, vets recommend feeding dogs unpeeled zucchini because the skin contains the most fiber.
4. How much zucchini is safe for dogs?
Though zucchini is completely canine safe, too much zucchini could end up being unhealthy. Think of zucchini as a low-calorie, tasty snack you give your dog in place of unhealthy doggy treats. Therefore, it should make up around 10% of your dog’s diet.
The exact amount of zucchini you can feed your dog will largely depend on their size. So, for example, larger dogs may be able to handle several zucchini slices in a day, while smaller ones will do best with just one or two slices.