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Can Dogs Eat Butternut Squash?

Butternut squash can safely be fed to dogs and offers a number of health benefits including essential vitamins and minerals all in a low-calorie snack.

A closeup of butternut squash.

Butternut squash can safely be fed to dogs and offers a number of health benefits including essential vitamins and minerals all in a low-calorie snack.

By: Dr. Juli, DVM 

Garden staples like fresh fruits and veggies are included in many healthy diets. They are the perfect way to ensure your mind and body function properly. Various types of squash, including butternut squash, are popular homegrown foods because of their sweet and savory flavors and versatility in the kitchen. Pet owners naturally love sharing all the joys of life with their furry friends, especially delicious, healthy treats. So, it's essential to understand what human foods are safe and healthy for dogs.

Fortunately, squash, when fed correctly and in moderation, can be a safe dog treat for most pups. However, always check with your veterinarian before incorporating new foods or treats into your dog's diet. Like people, some dogs may have food sensitivities, allergies, or underlying health conditions, like diabetes, that preclude them from indulging in any treats, including butternut squash

A closeup of butternut squash.

Nutritional Benefits of Butternut Squash for Dogs 

Your dog's nutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals, must primarily come from an AAFCO-approved completed and balanced dog food for their age and breed. However, healthy snacks or treats, like butternut squash, can have various health benefits and nutrients that support your pup's overall health and wellness. Additionally, treats are a vital part of strengthening the bond with your dog and the perfect way to reward good doggy manners and behavior. 

Butternut squash can provide your dog with various health benefits, including added hydration and supporting a healthy digestive system. It is also high in fiber, which can help promote regular bowel movements and aid in blood sugar regulation. Dogs who experience the occasional constipation or loose stool may benefit from fiber-filled butternut squash to help calm and regulate their digestive system.

However, always seek veterinary care if your dog is experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems, including vomiting and diarrhea that persists for more than 24 hours. Fiber can also aid in weight loss by helping overweight dogs feel fuller faster. Other nutritional benefits of butternut squash for dogs include:

  • Vitamin-packed—Butternut squash contains vitamins A, C, E, and K, which support your dog's skin, fur, and vision. These vitamins and antioxidants also support a healthy immune system, helping your dog fight disease and illness. 
  • Essential minerals –  Rich in various minerals, including potassium, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and folate (vitamin B9); these support overall body function, health, and growth. 
  • Low-calorie — With over 50% of US dogs being overweight or obese, reaching for low-calorie treats, like butternut squash, is critical to prevent weight gain and help maintain a healthy body condition. 

How to Safely Prepare Butternut Squash for Dogs

Like all fruits and veggies, it's essential to thoroughly wash the outside and remove any residual dirt, pesticides, or insects that may be lingering. Plain soap and water or vegetable-specific washes are suitable for cleaning your squash. Ensure that the rind and squash seeds are removed because they can be a choking hazard or lead to an intestinal blockage that may require surgery. Also, never give your dog raw butternut squash, as it can be difficult to digest and puts your dog at risk for GI upset or intestinal blockage, which may require surgery.

Once the squash is cleaned and prepared, cut it into small, bite-sized pieces that can be boiled, steamed, or broiled. Never add oil or seasonings to your pup's treat because most are toxic to dogs, including salt, onions, onion powder, garlic, garlic powder, or leeks. Although butter, oil, and brown sugar are popular butternut squash flavorings, never give this to pets because it can lead to GI upset or pancreatitis, a potentially deadly inflammatory condition.

Plain cooked butternut squash can be offered to your dog in a variety of ways, including:

  • Pureed as a meal topper or mixed with kibble
  • Pureed and spread on a lick matt
  • Mixed with water or dog-safe broth, like Native Pet Bone Broth, and baked to make homemade dog treats
  • Bite-sized cooked cubes
  • Combined with your pup's favorite xylitol-free peanut butter and placed in a puzzle toy or kong for mental enrichment
  • A spoonful as a special treat

How to Introduce Butternut Squash to Your Dog's Diet

Always consult your family veterinarian before offering your dog any new food or treats. Dogs with underlying diseases, like diabetes, allergies, or obesity, may have an increased risk for adverse reactions to new foods, including butternut squash. Ensure that your squash is plain, cooked, and the appropriate size when fed in pieces or cubes to prevent a choking hazard.

Start by offering your dog a small bite or taste of cooked squash, and closely monitor them for any adverse reactions, including vomiting or diarrhea. Additionally, the high fiber content can lead to loose stools when fed in excess, so monitor your dog's bowel movements and consistency when introducing this treat.

Too much of a good thing can also lead to weight gain, so as a general rule, your dog's daily treats should not comprise more than 10% of their daily calories. Butternut squash should only be fed in moderation as the occasional treat.

Once you determine that your dog's stomach can safely tolerate plain butternut squash, follow this serving guide:

  • Small breed dogs (under 30 lbs) — ½ to 2 teaspoons daily 
  • Medium breed dogs (30-50 lbs) – 2 to 3 teaspoons daily
  • Large breed dogs ( > 50lbs) – 1 to 3 tablespoons daily
A brown and white dachshund holds a piece of squash in its mouth.

Butternut Squash Alternatives

In addition to butternut squash, other types of squash can be a safe, healthy treat for your pup, including zucchini, acorn squash, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, and pumpkin. Native Pet Pumpkin Powder is also an easy, dog-safe way to add fiber to your dog's diet. Other healthy, low-calorie, dog-safe treat options include:

Providing your four-legged best friend healthy food and treats is essential to strengthen your bond and is a great way to show your dog love. However, too much of a good thing can upset your dog's stomach or cause other illnesses, so ensure to give your dog squash in moderation. Also, always consult your veterinarian before adding new treats or supplements to your dog's diet.

Although it is nutritious and packed with vitamins, powerful antioxidants, and minerals, butternut squash or other vegetables should not be given as a replacement for a complete and balanced dog food.

For more information and tips on your dog's health, check out the Native Pet blog.

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