There is something about the warm summer weather and bountiful gardens that make people want to share. We not only share the earth’s harvest with each other, but also with the animals in our lives. Can dogs eat squash, though? If so, what are the benefits dogs get from eating vegetables like squash?
These are valid questions. You want to be sure the squash is safe for your dog before you hand some over. Additionally, it’s nice to know if your dog will actually gain anything from eating this summer veggie.
I’ll tell you all about it and share a few tips with you about dogs and squash. Let’s dig in.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Squash?
First of all, please understand that there is a difference between something that is dangerous and something that just isn’t a great idea. This is how it is with dogs eating raw squash. It is technically fine. Squash is not toxic to dogs. It’s not a great idea, however, for a few reasons.
As you’ve learned in some of my other articles, raw veggies tax dogs’ digestive systems. Dogs don’t produce Amylase in the same way that humans or herbivore animals do. Amylase is an enzyme that assists in carbohydrate digestion.
Amylase is contained in the saliva and gives some animals and people a head start on breaking down carbs. Because dogs don’t have the same digestive setup as people, Amylase doesn’t enter the dog’s digestive process until later.
You can work around this by cooking the squash so it becomes more digestible.
Can Dogs Eat Squash Cooked?
They sure can! First of all, never feed your dog a diet containing more than 20 percent fruit and vegetables. Although the veggies on your menu may not be toxic, your dog doesn’t require more than this recommendation in their diet.
Cooking squash begins the process of breaking down the food. Your dog will digest cooked squash a lot better and that’s great news for you and your dog.
Remove all of the skin from the squash and discard all seeds. You don’t need to season the squash at all before feeding it to your dog. If you feel utterly compelled to add something, try simmering the squash in a clean bone broth you made yourself or purchased from a reputable source.
Please remember that commercial broths made for humans can contain a lot of sodium or other ingredients that are not good for your dog. Unless you made it yourself without any added ingredients, skip it.
The Many Faces of Squash
A carrot is a carrot, right? It isn’t quite that easy with squash. First of all, squash is actually a fruit. Mind blower, I know! Also, there are a lot of different varieties of squash out there!
Generally speaking, squash types fall into two categories. Therefore, you either have a summer squash or a winter squash. That seems complicated, but that being said, it’s actually helpful. The season relates to when you are most likely to see squash available.
Therefore, pumpkins and butternut squash are winter varieties. Conversely, zucchini and yellow squash are summer squashes.
What About Squash Baby Food?
Want to skip a step and get right to sharing squash with your dog? Many dog owners want to give their dog baby food versions of fruits and vegetables. This is slightly more complicated than you might think.
On its own, squash baby food is not toxic to dogs. Therefore, it isn’t dangerous in most cases to feed your dog baby food squash. You will run into problems, however, if the baby food you give your dog has other harmful ingredients in it.
If you are going to let your dog eat baby food, be absolutely certain that it doesn’t contain any added ingredients that are harmful to dogs. This could include garlic and onions or chemical stabilizers.
Be forewarned, however, that even if you pick a totally safe baby food, you could be setting yourself up for behavior problems with your dog if you give them baby food. You could end up with a picky eater on your hands.
My recommendation is to mix baby food veggies or fruits into your dog’s regular food if you are going to share it. This is after you have ensured that the food you have to share doesn't have any hidden ingredients that are dangerous, of course. This will hopefully keep your dog from getting too attached to the taste of squash on its own.
You can buy frozen, cubed squash to cook for your dog to speed things up, too.
Nutritional Benefits of Squash
Different varieties of squash have different benefits, of course. However, among the genus Cucurbita which squash belong to, there are many nutritional benefits to be found. Certain squashes can improve the quality of your sight, improve skin health, and boost the immune system.
Additionally, squashes build strong bone mass, improve heart health, and reduce inflammation. People who eat squash may sleep better, too. Some evidence suggests squash can increase respiratory health and reduce blood pressure as well.
The list of nutrients behind these impressive benefits include vitamin A, as well as significant amounts of vitamins C. Squash also contains vitamin E, B6, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and folate.
Squash also contains magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, phosphorous, calcium, and iron. Additionally, the carotenoids in squash are beneficial, as are their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.
Finally, squash contains lots of fiber which helps keep you full for a long time and is great for your digestive system.
All of these important nutrients in squash are great for humans. That being said, they can be good for your dog, too.
Read more: Can Dogs Eat Celery, A Plant-Based Question
How To Incorporate Squash Into Your Dog’s Diet
As I mentioned earlier, you can mix some cooked, plain squash into your dog's normal wet or dry dog food. This is the easiest way to add a little extra nutrition and fiber to your dog's diet. If you want to make a special treat for your dog, I've got you covered.
This homemade dog treat recipe isn't gluten free and does contain peanut butter. I recommend you choose a high-quality flour and peanut butter as well. This will make these treats healthier.
Butternut Squash Dog Treats
These treats are tasty and should be a hit with your dog. They’re very easy to make, too.
- 3/4 cup pureed squash
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbs. all natural peanut butter
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for rolling
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees while you combine ingredients as follows. Mix the eggs, squash and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in your whole wheat flour until the dough is dry and stiff. You may have to knead the dough a bit. Your finished product should look like pie crust.
Spread some all-purpose flour onto a flat surface such as your counter. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness.
You can get creative here and use cookie cutters or just cut square shapes in the dough. Transfer your cut outs to a cookie sheet and bake until they are dry. This should take around 25 minutes.
Be sure to let these dog treats cool before you hand them over to your anxiously awaiting canine friend.
Here is a bonus recipe in a video!
Formulated Dog Foods That Contain Squash
I scoured the internet for formulated dog food that contains squash, but I didn’t find much. If you want your dog to eat squash as a part of its normal diet, you might have to read a lot of ingredients! Conversely, you could try to make some DIY dog food.
I want to be very clear before pointing you in the direction of some DIY dog foods with squash. I am not telling you that any of these recipes are nutritionally balanced enough for your dog to eat daily. Unless you speak with your vet and receive information to the contrary, only feed these types of cooked meals to your dog occasionally.
It is still very rewarding to share a warm meal with your furry friend, however.
Finally Squashing Rumors About Squash
I have to tell you guys, this post has been really fun! I feel like I’ve given you lots of ways to share squash with your dog. I hope you feel like this is informative as well.
Now you know that it is totally safe for your dog to eat squash. Only a few caveats affect this advice.
- Never let your dog eat squash cooked in salt or with added sugar.
- Always be sure the squash your dog eats is fully cooked.
- Always remove all skin, peel, and seeds from squash your dog eats.
- Do not feed your dog a diet containing more than 20 percent fruits and vegetables.
- Don't let your dog get so used to eating human food that he ignores his formulated diet.
All that being said, you are free to cook up some squash and let your dog go to town! I hope you both enjoy this change in diet and that it brings enrichment and stimulation to your dog. Cooking ‘together’ can help you and your dog bond together.
It’s a beautiful thing.
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