Our hungry canine friends are always tempted to eat food items that they shouldn’t, especially when they see you eating something. While certain fruits and vegetables, like onions, should be avoided, plenty of alternatives are completely safe for your dog. A zucchini is one of the many fruits that you can give your dog to supplement an already balanced diet. It’s nutritious, low in calories, and a tasty treat.
Adding zucchinis to your dog’s food can aid their digestion and support their health due to the fruit’s natural vitamins and minerals. Here, we go over the pros and cons of zucchinis and include a few tips for adding them to your dog’s diet.
Are Zucchinis Safe for Dogs?
Of all the fruits and vegetables that dogs can eat to supplement their diet, zucchinis are among the safest and healthiest options out there. As long as you serve it plain without any additional seasonings or dog-unfriendly foods, zucchini can be served raw, steamed, or cooked.
Do note that zucchinis should only be given to your dog as special treats. Treats and snacks of any type should make up 10% or less of your dog’s main diet.1
The rest of the zucchini plant is safe for dogs to eat too — the flowers, leaves, and stem are non-toxic. The flowers are also edible for humans. But if you grow zucchinis in your garden vegetable patch, make sure your dog isn’t eating other vegetables that you’ve planted that might be dangerous.
What Are the Benefits of Feeding Zucchinis to Your Dog?
As with all fruits, the benefits of a zucchini aren’t just limited to it being a healthier snack than most commercial treats. It also offers plenty of health benefits for humans and dogs alike.
Many fruits that your dog can eat, including zucchini, contain antioxidants. These compounds help protect your dog from harmful, unstable molecules called free radicals. The antioxidants in zucchini help prevent damage from free radicals in both dogs and humans.
The water content of zucchini is one of its best features. Besides helping your dog stay hydrated — a bonus if they eat a kibble-based diet — the water content aids digestion. This combined with the natural fibers found in zucchini makes the fruit easy to digest and helps reduce constipation.
Low in Calories
If you’re wary about giving your dog a snack that can add to their weight, a zucchini shouldn’t worry you. It’s low in calories and is often recommended to humans as a snack for weight-loss diets. The high fiber and water content will also help your dog feel full faster so they won’t feel the need to eat as much.
Zucchinis are packed with essential nutrients that can give your dog’s health an extra boost.
They contain vitamins A, C, K, and B6, which all help support your dog’s bones, cartilage, metabolism, blood clotting, coat, and skin health. They also contain important minerals like manganese, lutein, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus.
How Much Zucchini Can Dogs Eat?
Since zucchinis are healthy and completely safe treats for your dog to eat, it can be tempting to overuse them. However, just because your dog benefits from eating a zucchini, that doesn’t mean it should become the main part of their diet.
Zucchinis should be added to an already balanced meal plan for the best results. This ensures that your dog gets all the nutrients that they need from their main diet while benefiting from the extra boost from the zucchini. The number of zucchinis that they should eat depends on their diet, age, and size.
Puppies less than 6 weeks old shouldn’t be fed raw or solid food because their digestive systems are still developing. This includes fruits like zucchinis. Once your puppy can eat solid foods, be sure the amount of zucchini that they eat remains at or below 10% of their regular diet.
How to Serve Zucchinis to Your Dog
Zucchinis are versatile fruits that can be used in a broad range of dishes, whether raw or cooked. Your dog can also benefit from the many ways to prepare it. If you’re new to feeding zucchinis to your dog, try a few of these preparation tips to see which one your dog likes the most.
Bite-Sized Pieces or Puréed
The most common way of preparing a zucchini for a dog is to cut it into bite size pieces. You can also serve it puréed if your dog prefers softer textures or has trouble chewing. Either can be added to your dog’s main meal as a food topper or eaten alone.
Raw, Cooked, Steamed, or Frozen
You can prepare a zucchini in several ways. You can cut the raw zucchini into chunks and feed them straight to your dog or store them in the freezer for a cold snack on hot days. You can also steam the zucchini or cook it to make it softer and easier to digest, provided that you don’t add anything else to the pan.
Considering how many ways you can serve a zucchini to your dog, it can be tempting to make things more interesting by adding seasonings. Perhaps you’ve added a zucchini to your own meal and want to let your puppy have a taste. While the zucchini alone is completely safe for your pet, the seasonings that you use might not be.
Garlic and onions — including the powdered forms — are commonly added to human food. Unfortunately, both popular flavorings are toxic to dogs. The food that a zucchini is added to can also pose a problem due to the high fat, salt, or sugar content.
To stay safe, set plain zucchini pieces aside for your dog to snack on. You can give a zucchini to your dog raw or cooked, but you must serve it plain to keep it as healthy as possible.
What Are the Risks of Feeding Zucchinis to Your Dog?
Overall, zucchinis are incredibly safe for your dog. As with all foods, though, there is a slight risk involved.
The biggest issue is digestive upset, which can be caused by suddenly adding a large amount of zucchini to your dog’s diet. Food changes can cause discomfort in general, and raw zucchinis can be particularly tough for some dogs to digest, especially if they have a sensitive stomach.
Some dogs also might have a strong, negative reaction, such as vomiting or diarrhea. In this case, you should avoid giving zucchinis to them and ask your veterinarian for alternatives.
Large zucchinis can also be bitter and might upset your dog’s stomach more than small, fresh ones. To avoid this, taste-test the zucchini yourself first. You can benefit from the healthy treat too!
A plain zucchini that’s cut into bite size pieces or puréed can be served to your dog raw, cooked, or steamed. As dog-friendly fruits, zucchinis are healthy treats for rewarding good behavior or adding to your dog’s meals.
Introduce the new vegetable to your dog’s diet slowly, and remember that treats should never exceed more than 10% of their main diet. As a small part of a balanced diet, zucchinis are highly nutritious and offer plenty of health benefits when given to your dog.
Featured Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay