Pumpkins and other types of squash are popular vegetables for humans; among other things, they are low in fat and cholesterol. As you’re preparing it, you might find yourself wondering if it’s okay to share it with your dog. But can dogs eat squash?
What Type of Squash Should You Feed to Your Dog?
Depending on how it has been prepared, you may be able to share squash with your dog. Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC, advises that squash itself is safe for dogs to eat, “provided seeds, skin, and rinds have been removed.” For safety, when cooking and preparing squash, make sure to properly dispose of seeds and rinds in compost or trash bins that your dog can’t access.
Dr. Klein explains that the best types of squash to feed your dog are butternut squash, pumpkin, zucchini, and acorn squash. In particular, zucchini is the squash most easily digested by dogs. A cautionary note from Dr. Klein about feeding pumpkin to your dog: Make sure that you are only giving your pet plain, unsweetened pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling “contains xylitol, a toxic artificial sweetener to dogs,” cautions Dr. Klein. As always, give your dog squash in moderation; we also recommend consulting your veterinarian before adding it to their diet.
Benefits of Squash
Different types of squash can be beneficial for your dog’s digestive system, keep dogs hydrated, and improve the sheen of your dog’s fur. Squash is high in fiber (key for digestive health), beta-carotene (a powerful antioxidant that can protect cells from damage), and vitamin A (which helps with vision and overall cell function). For example, butternut squash is rich in Vitamin C, integral in body tissue repair processes and protecting the immune system, while zucchini is rich in Vitamin B6, which aids in moderating metabolism. Acorn squash is full of magnesium, which helps the body process other minerals, and varied B vitamins.
Many dogs enjoy squash on its own, in homemade dog treats, or mixed in with their regular food. Plain pumpkin is a common home treatment for dogs with mild stomach upsets; it can help to calm their digestive systems. If stomach upset persists, or you know your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have, consult your veterinarian immediately. For overweight or dieting dogs, squash can be a helpful addition. Squash’s fiber content can help a dog feel full if you are cutting the overall calories in their diet. If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight and considering putting them on a diet, always consult with your veterinarian first.
How to Serve Squash to Dogs
Dogs have the easiest time digesting squash that has been steamed or roasted, advises Dr. Klein. Squash being fed to dogs should be plain, without any butter mixed in. You’ll also want to avoid feeding your dog any squash seasoned with onion, salt, and garlic salt, which are toxic for dogs. When serving squash to your dog, keep it simple and unseasoned.
If you’re starting to start feeding vegetables like squash to your dog’s diet, begin introducing them slowly and consult your vet. If you notice any negative reactions, stop feeding them this food and speak with your dog’s veterinarian immediately.