Whether it’s summer or winter, there always seems to be a different type of squash in season and on sale. And if you have a surplus of squash, you may wonder whether it’s safe to share this seasonal crop with your best friend. So, can dogs eat squash?
Yes, dogs can eat squash. In fact, feeding squash to your furry friend can have a number of health benefits. But different types of squash have different nutritional benefits, and they need to be prepared differently to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach. Plus, if you’re considering giving your dog seasoned squash from last night’s leftovers, there are a few things you should know first.
Here’s a look at the different types of squash your dog can eat, tips to share squash safely, and the potential benefits for your best friend.
Can Dogs Eat Squash of All Varieties? Summer vs. Winter Squash
All types of squash are safe for dogs to eat. This includes summer squash like zucchini, yellow squash, and pattypan squash, as well as winter squash like pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, delicata squash, and spaghetti squash. However, summer squash and winter squash need to be prepared differently before your dog can eat them.
How Can Dogs Eat Squash Safely? Tips for Preparing This Veggie
So, how can dogs eat squash safely? As a general rule of thumb, you should never feed your dog any part of a fruit or vegetable that you wouldn’t eat yourself.
Preparing Summer Squash
With a summer squash like zucchini, you eat the skin and seeds, and these parts are safe for your dog, too. But, you should make sure to top and tail the summer squash — removing the stem and butt from your zucchini, yellow squash, or pattypan — before giving it to your dog.
The stem of summer squash is too fibrous to digest easily and can wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system if consumed. And because the stem is hard to chew, it can also be a choking hazard.
Never allow your dog to gnaw on a whole squash. Aside from the risk of them eating the stem, this would be too large of a serving, even for a large dog. Instead, always cut the squash into small pieces before feeding it to your dog — and aim for extra small, bite-sized pieces if you’re feeding it to a small dog.
You can let your dog eat raw summer squash. Much like how raw zucchini is healthy for humans, it’s also one of the best ways to share these veggies with your dog. If you’d prefer to give your pooch cooked summer squash, keep it simple and plain by steaming or baking it with no additional ingredients.
While it’s okay to add a small amount of olive oil (as long as your dog doesn’t suffer from pancreatitis), you should avoid adding salt and other seasonings. Dogs can eat a small amount of salt, but extra salt in their diet isn’t good for them. And many seasonings, including garlic, onions, and other members of the allium family, are toxic to dogs. So, stick to plain, unseasoned squash to keep your dog safe.
Preparing Winter Squash
When it comes to winter squash, we humans don’t eat the skin or seeds, and your dog shouldn’t either. You also shouldn’t feed your dog raw butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkin, or spaghetti squash.
Before feeding these human foods to your dog, remove the squash seeds, stem, butt, and skin. While these parts of the vegetable aren’t toxic, they’re too fibrous for your dog to digest.
Next, bake or steam the vegetable. (You can also cook the squash whole and remove the skin and seeds after baking — as long as those parts are out of the picture before you share this veggie with your dog.)
Just like with summer squash, prepare the winter squash as plainly as possible — don’t add extra seasonings, which can be toxic to your dog. And always cut the squash into small pieces before sharing it with your best friend.
Portioning Your Dog’s Squash
Even though squash is safe for dogs, they shouldn’t eat it in large amounts. When you’re introducing a new food into your dog’s diet, start with small servings — feed your dog a bite or two at a time. Any new food can upset your dog’s stomach if you introduce it too quickly or in too large a quantity.
Once you’ve given your dog one or two bites or squash a few times, you can gradually give them a few more bites. But remember, your dog’s daily calorie intake shouldn’t include more than 10% of dog treats and human food combined. Feeding too much of any food — even healthy food like squash — can lead to nutritional imbalances in your dog’s diet.
What Are the Health Benefits of Squash for Dogs?
Can dogs eat squash? Yes. But is squash good for dogs? Also yes. Alongside cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, squash is one of the best veggies you can share with your dog.
Each type of squash has a slightly different nutritional profile and will offer different nutrients to your best friend. If your dog eats a complete and balanced diet, they’ll already be getting the nutrients they need from their dog food, but these additional vitamins and minerals can provide further support for your dog’s health.
Here’s a look at the benefits of a few of the most common varieties of squash.
- Acorn squash: This winter squash is a good source of antioxidants that can support your dog’s immune system and protect against free radicals. It also contains beta-carotene, which can support vision health. And it’s a good source of vitamin A, folate, and iron.
- Butternut squash: Along with pumpkin and sweet potato, butternut squash is one of the best nutritional sources of vitamin A. It’s also a good source of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E. And it provides good levels of vitamin B6 and is full of essential minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
- Pumpkin: A great source of fiber, veterinarians often recommend pumpkin for dogs as a home remedy for constipation. This squash also contains high levels of beta-carotene, antioxidants, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, and copper.
- Spaghetti squash: While spaghetti squash isn’t as nutrient-dense as some of the other winter squashes, it’s still a good source of fiber, manganese, vitamin B6, and niacin.
- Yellow squash: This veggie provides plenty of vitamin C, along with some potassium, folate, vitamin K, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
- Zucchini: Unlike winter squash, zucchini is a low-calorie and low-carbohydrate veggie, making it a great snack for overweight dogs. It’s also rich in vitamin C, folate, potassium, and vitamin A, and it provides small amounts of calcium.
Are There Any Risks of Feeding Dogs Squash?
The most significant risk of sharing squash with your pet is upsetting your dog’s digestive system if you feed them too much squash or if they eat parts of the squash that they’re not supposed to.
In addition, eating winter squash seeds or skin or the stem portion of any squash can lead to an intestinal blockage — especially if your dog swallows a large amount of any of these parts of the squash.
Always keep whole squash out of reach of your pet. And if you suspect that your dog has eaten the squash seeds, skin, or stem, and you notice symptoms like excessive panting, loss of appetite, lethargy, or sensitivity when their abdomen is touched, call your vet immediately. An intestinal blockage can become life-threatening if your dog doesn’t get proper treatment.
You should also be careful when feeding your dog canned pumpkin puree. Plain, canned puree is safe for dogs to eat. But some pumpkin purees, especially canned pumpkin pie filling, have added sugar and may include xylitol — a sugar alcohol that is toxic to dogs. If your dog eats xylitol, you should take them to the vet to have their stomach pumped immediately.
Anytime you share human food with your dog, you should take precautions. But, as long as you follow the instructions above when you’re preparing squash for dogs, this veggie is a low-risk food to feed your pet.
Squash Your Pet’s Nutritional Goals
So, can dogs eat squash? Yes, both winter and summer squashes are great snacks to share with your pet if you prepare them properly. Never feed your dog any part of the squash you wouldn’t eat, and beware of added seasonings (especially garlic and onions, which are toxic to pets).
Plain, cooked winter squash, and plain, cooked or raw summer squash are full of nutrients that can be beneficial for your pet. Summer squash makes a good low-calorie treat for overweight dogs, and winter squash provides plenty of fiber that promotes healthy digestion.
If you want to add more squash to your dog’s diet, try adding Native Pet's organic, air-dried Pumpkin Powder to their meal. Our pumpkin powder has a longer shelf life than canned pumpkin, so you can serve your pup the best without breaking the bank.
For more information on your dog’s health and wellness, check out the Native Pet blog.