You walk into your garden, and find that your dog has turned it into his personal salad bar. You find him happily munching on a zucchini like it’s a bone. There goes your plans to make ratatouille… But wait, can dogs eat zucchini? Why is he eating vegetables when he’s a carnivore? Should you call a vet?
Yes, dogs can eat zucchini—and many other vegetables, too! Dogs are actually omnivores, which means that even if they depend mainly on meat (or kibble and treats made from meat products), they can digest plants too. Many dog breeders and veterinarians actually recommend adding some fruits and vegetables to your dog’s diet, as long as you choose the right produce, prepare them correctly, and give the right amounts. Here’s what you need to know.
What are the benefits of feeding dog zucchini?
Veterinarian Dr. Avi Blake assures that zucchini is safe, has many health benefits, and is in fact one of the best vegetables to feed your dog. Here are some reasons he and other dog experts say that zucchini is the #1 green treat for your furry friend.
Zucchini contains a lot of antioxidants
Antioxidants bind to free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that destroy cells and DNA. Giving your dog zucchini and other plants that are rich in antioxidants reduces his risk for cancer, heart problems, and other chronic diseases.
Zucchini improves digestion
Zucchini has a high water and fiber content. The water helps soften your dog’s stool, while the fiber helps flush the digestive system and draws in water from the body. This can help prevent constipation.
Zucchini also contains soluble fiber, which helps increase the levels of good bacteria in his gut. This helps prevent diseases like irritable bowels, leaky gut, colitis and other problems with the gastro-intestinal tract.
Zucchini is full of nutrients
This summer squash is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and Vitamin K. It also contains minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese. All these nutrients are needed for a healthy diet that promotes proper growth and development, and boosts the immune system. And since dogs can’t produce their own Vitamin C and Vitamin K, a zucchini a day can keep the vet away.
Zucchini can help promote healthy weight
Fat dogs may look really cute, but that extra weight can affect their heart and make them feel to heavy and lethargic to run or play. So go easy on the bacon strips, and give them a vegetable treat that is low in calories instead. A cup of zucchini only contains 17 calories, and the fiber actually makes your dog feel full, especially if you have to limit the amount of dog food he can eat.
Zucchini is low in fat and sugar
Since zucchini has a low glycemic index, it won’t affect your dog’s blood sugar levels. It is low in fat and low in cholesterol. And if you need to put your dog on a diet that is low in calories, the zucchini will satisfy his craving for something crunchy. That’s why it’s one of the best vegetables to give dogs that are overweight or predisposed to heart problems.
Zucchini can help sport participants
Zucchini and other vegetables can help boost your dog’s diet before a dog sports event. Sports participants often need more energy, but have to keep within a weight class. You can use zucchini as a reward that is crunchy, low calorie, and full of vitamins.
How much zucchini safe for dogs?
Like all diets, everything is best in moderation. All dog treats should be limited to 10% of your dog diet. If you feed him too many snacks, he may lose his appetite for his regular dog food. Even vegetable treats should be limited, especially if your dog has problems with digestion. Too many veggies can cause a stomach upset, and cleaning up regurgitated zucchini is never fun. Long-term, it can affect your dog’s gut flora and affect his kidney.
Can dogs eat zucchini with skin?
Yes, he can—so don’t panic if he decides to run off with a whole raw zucchini when you’re not looking! It’s also safe if he accidentally eats zucchini flower or any part of the plant.
What’s the best way to prepare zucchini and other vegetables for dogs?
Many dogs are happy to just eat a zucchini raw, as long as you make sure that it’s either organic or has been washed to remove any trace pesticides or fertilizers. However, cooking the vegetables can make it easier for your dog to digest them. You can try these methods:
Just boil water and briefly submerge any sliced vegetables. This helps remove any dirt and trace chemicals, but still retains the nutrients and the crunchiness. It also eliminates any need for oil, which some dogs can’t tolerate.
Steaming vegetables can help soften vegetables, which is helpful for older dogs or puppies who have difficulty chewing. You can use a stove top steamer, or do it in the microwave.
Just place vegetables in a blender or food processor. This is best for fibrous vegetables like celery and spinach, since it helps break down the cell walls. You don’t have to pre-cook vegetables, unless they are tough and hard like carrots or sweet potatoes.
You can puree a large batch of vegetables and then store them in portions in the freezer. One good idea: pour them in ice trays! That’s a great way to make sure you always have a healthy treat on hand, and that you only give small amounts. You can add the puree to the dog food or use it in a dog biscuit recipe. On a hot day, you can even give your dog a veggie ice cube – it’s just like a popsicle!
Baked dog treats
Homemade zucchini dog treats are a affordable and healthy snack to keep your dog healthy and happy! You can combine zucchini with other healthy and dog-safe ingredients like pumpkin puree, peanut butter, or oats.
Just be careful about the calorie count and the amount you give every day! Even a healthy ingredient like peanut butter can cause a spike in your dog’s blood sugar. It should be an occasional treat, not a replacement for dog food.
One benefit of baking these zucchini dog treats—even if they do take more time—is that you can shape and dry them. They’re easier to carry and store, and you can control the amount you give each day.
Can I give my dog leftover zucchini?
Don’t give your dog leftover table scraps from your dinner. We typically season our food with garlic, onions and spices, and these are toxic for dogs. For your convenience, you can cook some zucchini and set aside a portion for your dog, before seasoning it for your own meal.
That also includes zucchini bread that’s made for people. It can contain a lot of oil, butter and sugar, as well as nuts that are dangerous for your dog. Instead, look for a zucchini bread or zucchini treat. You can control the sugar content, and you’re sure that it only has ingredients dogs eat.
What other vegetables can dogs eat?
Aside from zucchini, your dog can eat many other kinds of fruits and vegetables. This includes:
- Kale. This is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K and iron. This can help your dog’s vision and bone health, and is needed for energy metabolism.
- Spinach. This has potassium, magnesium, Vitamin B, C and A and E. It also is high in iron and calcium.
- Carrots. No, they’re not just for rabbits. It is rich in beta carotene, which can help your dog’s eyesight. Cut these into pieces so they don’t choke your dog.
- Beans. Green beans are packed with iron, calcium, Vitamin B, and Vitamin C. Since they are low calorie but very filling, they are a good treat for an overweight dog on a diet.
- Broccoli. This is one of the best vegetables for dogs who have bone problems. It contains potassium and Vitamin C, which can help increase bone density. However, only give a small amount: too much broccoli can cause gastric irritation. Give the broccoli flowers, not the stalks, which can block the esophagus.
- Celery. Dogs will never say no to celery pieces dipped in peanut butter. This crunchy treat is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and antioxidants.
- Sweet potatoes. This vegetable aids digestion because of the high fiber content, and also contains nutrients like vitamin B, vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese.
- Brussels sprouts. Give your dog this vegetable in moderation. While it has many nutrients that are good for the heart, bones and immune system—like vitamin K, A, C, fiber, and antioxidants—too much can cause diarrhea and flatulence.
What vegetables can dogs NOT eat?
Some vegetables are toxic to dogs, because they contain compounds that irritate them or are difficult for them to digest. Here are some vegetables dogs should never eat:
- Avocado. It contains persin, which can give dogs diarrhea or make them throw up. And if your dog happens to pick up a whole avocado, the seed can either choke him or get stuck in his intestines.
- Onions and garlic. These kill the dog’s red blood cells and cause anemia. Even onion powder and garlic powder can be dangerous, and can cause breathing problems, lethargy and vomiting. Aside from red and white onion, don’t give onion leeks or spring onions.
- Tomatoes. Raw tomatoes contain tomatine, which affect the dog’s nervous system, digestive tract, and kidneys. If you happen to grow them in your garden, make sure that your dog wont be able to reach them. Even their leaves can cause reactions like tremors, drooling and bloody urine.
Can I give my dog fruits?
There are some fruits dogs can really like. These include apples, bananas, mangoes, oranges, pears, pineapple and most berries. However, never give your pet grapes or raisins. These are some of the most toxic food for dogs to eat, and can cause kidney failure and death.
Where can I find zucchini dog treat recipes?
Looking for easy and healthy DIY treats for your dog to eat? Check out these resources for dog food recipes.
- Banana Zucchini
- Bread Dog Treats
- Baked Zucchini Dog Biscuits
- Zucchini Treats your Dog Will Love
- Peanut Butter Zucchini
- Spinach Carrot and Zucchini Dog Treats
- Zucchini Crisps for Dogs