So we all know that all dogs love meat. However, lots of dogs enjoy veggies as well. And the good news is that it can be a healthy treat when given in moderation, provided it is not harmful. So how do you know which veggies are safe and which are not? For example, can dogs eat zucchini? Is zucchini safe for dogs to eat?
Well, the good news is that zucchini is perfectly safe for dogs to eat. However, this does not mean that you should feed your dog large amounts of the vegetable. As is the case with any other human food served to dogs, moderation is key to enjoying the health benefits and none of the side effects.
Is Zucchini Good for Dogs?
So we’ve established that zucchini is safe for dogs to eat, however, is it good for dogs? The good news is that zucchinis contain vitamins, fiber and minerals in each long, green squash. Additionally, dogs that fed a balanced and complete diet tend to get all the nutrients they need from their staple food.
This is, of course, unless they have a disorder of illness that negatively affects their ability to absorb nutrients.
Ultimately, dogs don’t need vegetables in order to be healthy; however, vegetables are safe for dogs to eat. This is basically because it is an alternative to high calorie treats. For example, a cup of raw zucchini contains just 20 calories making it both low in cholesterol and fats and will not add to your dog’s waistline.
So it makes a great choice for a treat when training your dog or as a reward for obese dogs.
On another note, we did mention that zucchini is safe for dogs to eat; however, this doesn’t mean that they should have excessive amounts of the vegetable. Moderation is key, and that is something we cannot stress enough.
Health Benefits of Zucchini for Dogs
This mildly flavored vegetable is jam-packed full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are plant compounds that protect the body from free radicals. Ultimately, these free radicals are longs harmful to your dog as they are unstable molecules. They can also damage your dogs DNA, cells and speed up the process of aging.
Another term for this process is called oxidative stress. Think of it as rust building up in the body. However, antioxidants can help clean up that damage. Carotenoids are a type of antioxidant that provides the color to certain plants. This antioxidant is abundant in zucchini and the skin contains the bulk of the antioxidants.
So it is recommended that when feeding zucchini to dogs, leave the peel on. The skin contains the highest amount of antioxidants, so it’s best to leave it on. The skin also adds additional fiber at your dog’s diet.
Zucchini is an amazing natural source of minerals and vitamins since it is abundant in nutrients. Each zucchini contains vitamins A, B6, C and K. It also contains minerals such as manganese, zinc, potassium, magnesium, copper and phosphorous. Although vitamins C and K are not essential to dogs since they are able to make these on their own, they still are slightly beneficial in your dog’s diet.
Some of the other vitamins such as vitamin A and C contains antioxidants as well. Raw zucchini has high levels of vitamin A as compared to when you cook it. Cooking will decrease the vitamin A content, so it is best to serve your dog raw zucchini, provided it is puréed to make it digest easier.
Another fact is that zucchini is full of water. Therefore it tends to soften the stool and alleviate constipation. It contains both insoluble and soluble fiber. While insoluble fiber bulks the stool and lessens constipation by drawing water into the stool, soluble fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria that create the fatty acids in the diet. Ultimately, this also limits the chances of gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and leaky gut.
Zucchini is considerably low in calories, and it contains 17 to 20 calories in just one cup. It’s also rich in fiber and water, so it may contribute positively to weight loss. The fiber makes you feel full. Zucchini also lowers your dog’s blood sugar since it is a low-glycemic vegetable. The important thing to remember is that vegetables should only make up around 10% off your dog’s diet. Zucchini and other green veggies have nutritional benefits and can also help your dog lose weight. So in that regard, it is highly beneficial to your dog’s diet. However, it’s never a good idea to introduce more than 10% of the vegetable to your dog’s diet.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Zucchini?
It is normally safe for dogs to eat raw zucchini. But, you may want to keep a close eye on your zucchini plants in your garden as you may be surprised at how fast your pooch can devour it. On the other hand, zucchini is a taste that has to be acquired.
Some dogs may not take to the taste immediately, especially if they are picky eaters. Both the texture and taste of zucchini might be a turnoff for some dogs. However, once it is diced and mixed with meaty, wet dog food, it can turn into a real mouth-watering treat for Fido.
Raw zucchini is also okay for your dog provided they have good digestion. Alternatively, if your dog does not, then it may be a good idea to cook the zucchini. Something else to note is that dogs generally have a hard time digesting raw veggies. So zucchini served in its natural form can cause stomach problems, so it is better to cook it if you have any concerns.
Zucchini can be boiled or steamed and served to your dog as it is without adding any spices or seasonings to it. It’s the simplest way and is also the best for your dog. It may seem bland to you to serve your dog zucchini this way because you won’t enjoy it as much in its natural boiled or steamed form, however, dogs don’t need all of the extra additives that you get from seasoning. In fact, they don’t need any additives to appreciate the taste of a particular food.
How to Safely Feed Zucchini to your Dog?
So you’ve heard the saying that too much of a good thing can be bad. This is also true when it comes to zucchinis. Although this is a low-calorie vegetable, as with any other new food served to your dog, it should be introduced gradually and in small quantities.
The consequences of serving too much zucchini or any other new food to your dog are that it could lead to an upset stomach due to nutrient imbalances. This also happens if your dog eats too much of the same type of food, too soon.
If you’ve never added zucchini to your dog’s diet before it’s best to start with a small amount at first to see if he prefers the taste or not. Consequently, this will also give you an idea of whether she’s going to take to the taste of the veggie and how the digestive system is going to receive the vegetable. Vomiting and diarrhoea are some of the common symptoms of bad digestive reactions. And if you notice these symptoms in your dog, then immediately stop feeding the vegetable and contact your vet ASAP.
Another point to note is that zucchini should be served in small pieces so that it doesn’t become a choking hazard in the event that your pooch decides to gobble it up instead of chewing. So make sure that you chop or dice it into smaller bite-size pieces to minimize the chances of choking.
As we mentioned earlier, raw zucchini may be safe for your dogs provided they have a strong digestive system; however, giving a dog an entire zucchini to munch on is probably not the best idea. It’s always best to cut the vegetable up into manageable, bite-sized pieces even if it’s given as a treat. So it can be served as a dessert after a meal, or you can use it as a reward when training Fido.
When is Zucchini Not Safe for Dogs?
Zucchini is generally a non-toxic vegetable that can be fed to your dog safely provided it is done in moderation. That said, there are some cases where the vegetable can be incredibly bitter and possibly toxic. This is due to the chemicals that are found in this vegetable.
How to Spot Bitter Zucchini
Cucurbitacins are a biochemical that is responsible for the bitter taste. It is also referred to as “bitter principles” and as the name suggests gives a bitter flavor that can also be highly toxic. This biochemical is found in the leaves, stems and the roots of zucchinis as well as in parts of the squash that humans don’t eat. However, there are times when that bitterness can go into the vegetable itself and cause the bitter and toxic taste.
This biochemical is extremely toxic to dogs. In humans, the bitter taste can cause stomach aches, vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea.
So ensure that you are buying healthy zucchini that is produced in favorable conditions. The best way to go is always organic. Small is always better than the monster size ones as the biggest zucchinis are more likely to be bitter.
Ultimately, if you’re not sure whether the zucchini is bitter and toxic or not, simply do a taste test before feeding it to your dog. If you find that it is bitter, the best to do is use it in your compost heap or throw it away in the garbage.
How Much Zucchini Should You Feed Fido?
So the general rule of thumb is that treats should make up less than 10% of your dog’s total diet. This is ultimately one of the simplest ways to work on how much zucchini to include in your dog’s diet. It is low in calories and contains tons of nutrients for your pooch; however, it should still be served naturally and in small amounts.
The age and size of your dog will also play a key role in how much zucchini they are able to eat or should be eating. Larger dogs may require four or more cups of food, whereas a small dog will only need 1 cup of food. So all you have to do is figure out what’s 10% of your dog’s diet and ultimately stay well below that limit. Zucchini is a food that is well tolerated by most dogs. However, large amounts can lead to digestive issues, so it’s always a good idea to serve it in its most natural form provided it is easy on the digestive system and serve small amounts at a time.
Large pieces of zucchini also present a choking hazard, and you can avoid this by dicing up zucchini into bite-sized pieces, or you can try steaming it so that your dogs won’t have a hard time chewing it. If the thought of giving your dog an entire zucchini ever crosses your mind, please stop right there as this is not advisable under any circumstances.
It’s generally safe to offer zucchini in all forms to your dog. So whether you choose to serve it raw, steamed, or cooked is entirely up to you and also your dog’s digestive system. One thing you should never do is give zucchini with seasoning and spices to your dog. Although you may prefer it well seasoned, your dog does not need that, and in fact, the seasoning and spices can be detrimental to your dog’s health.
So while preparing zucchini for yourself, cutting up a few chunks and setting them aside for your pooch before adding oils, seasonings, salts and other garnishes such as garlic and onions is a good idea. On that note, garlic and onions are toxic to dogs and can, in fact, be fatal so you should never serve garlic and onions to dogs in any form even if it’s just used as a garnish on another type of food. So completely avoid garlic and onion dishes at all costs when feeding your dog.
Another thing that can be problematic is serving zucchini bread and baked goods made with zucchini as they tend to be a huge health concern in dogs. Baked goods contain unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients that eventually lead to weight gain and obesity. The amount of fat and sugar in these baked goods lead to stomach ache in dogs and other symptoms that all point to intestinal distress. So when it comes to baked goods, it is an absolute no-no for your pooch. Some baked goods may also contain xylitol which is fatal to dogs. It’s a sweetener that is toxic to dogs and should be avoided at all costs.
Are Zucchini Plants Dangerous to Dogs?
Dogs have a tendency to munch on anything and everything that they see. However, they especially have a tendency to munch on things in your garden. In fact, dogs enjoy eating food on the ground, and pretty much anything looks delicious to them even if it’s not supposed to be consumed.
However, the good news is that you don’t need to worry if your dog decides to chow down zucchini leaves and flowers. This is because all parts of the plant are safe to eat. The flower is also edible and in many cases is added to human dishes.
That said, you should still be aware and can keep an eye out on your vegetable garden. Simply because zucchini plants are safe for dogs to eat, doesn’t mean that other vegetables are too. In fact, some of them can be toxic to your dog. So keep a close eye on your vegetable patch and take note of the plants that you have growing. This way, you will be able to tell you if you need to call your vet upon finding a bald patch in your vegetable garden.
So now that you know that zucchini is safe for dogs to eat, there’s no need to look for ways to clean up your zucchini garden in the summer. It’s good to know that you can use your pooch to get the job done. Zucchinis are completely safe for dogs, and they can be consumed both in their raw or cooked form. However, a point to note when preparing zucchinis for your canine is to ensure that you only use ingredients that you know for sure are safe for dogs. It is also highly recommended that you introduce the vegetable to your dog’s diet gradually and in very small quantities. This way, you will avoid an upset stomach and other nasty symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.