Some of our favorite garden treats only appear during specific seasons. Watermelon? You usually only see them during the warmer months. And pumpkin? You know autumn’s arrived when they appear in the grocery store. And while your personal garden follows a particular growing pattern, it’s never difficult to find zucchinis in stores. They’re always in season SOMEWHERE. The fact they’re a cinch to grow (even the newest “farmers” manage to keep them plentiful). And you can use them in so many ways. Raw, cooked, steamed, or baked. This is why people love zucchinis so much. But such abundance leads to canine curiosity. You’ll find dogs sniffing around the garden and snatching up a zucchini or two. And you may panic. Can dogs eat zucchini? As it turns out, they can! It’s one of the better doggie treats in the world – as long as you follow some careful outlines.
Cucurbita pepo shows up in the vegetable section of the produce aisle all the time. But it’s actually a fruit! Why? First, you find seeds on the inside. Second, the edible plant grows out of a flower. But since it’s green (most of the time – it also comes in striped and yellow variations), most people consider it a vegetable. Zucchini shares the same family with cucumbers (I know, shocker given their similar appearance), melons, and squash. They’re also known as marrows, baby marrows, and courgettes.
And when it comes to health? You can’t go wrong with zucchinis. EVERY part of the zucchini plant’s edible, from the leaves to the flowers to the fruit itself. (Of course, not everyone LIKES all of those parts, but it’s nice to know you CAN eat them) And you get a low-fat food that packs in the vitamins and nutrients. In 1 cup of zucchini, you get all of the following:
- Calories: 19.8
- Carbohydrates: 4.2g
- Iron: 0.4mg
- Magnesium: 21.1mg
- Manganese: 0.2mg
- Phosphorous: 47.1mg
- Potassium: 325mg
- Protein: 1.5g
- Sodium: 12.4mg
- A: 5%
- B6: 14%
- C: 35%
- K: 7%
When dogs eat zucchini, they get easily digestible fiber, plenty of water, and all of those nutrients. Not to mention a healthy dose of carotenoids. Carotenoids are natural chemicals that provide a distinct color in many plants, including zucchinis. And they also provide antioxidants. And since the skin of a zucchini is so thin – AND edible – your dog gets a natural boost to their system. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Can Dogs Eat Zucchini?
When you scan down the list of health benefits, you can’t help but get excited about dogs eating zucchini. They’re low in calories – and sugar (2.1g) – and include plenty of vitamins and minerals you don’t find in other fruits (or vegetables, for that matter). But is it okay for dogs to eat zucchini? Of course. There’s nothing toxic – even if they nibble away at the vine or flowers. You can allow your dog to eat the skin AND the seeds – something uncommon in most fruits. And while your garden may only produce the fruits during the summer, you can find them in the store year-round. This means a potential treat at any time.
Our dog HATES vegetables – she thinks they’re poison. And she’s smart enough to know the difference between a fruit and a vegetable. So it’s not really surprising to us that she’ll happily pick up pieces of zucchini we drop on the floor. And it’s funny because we’ve tried sneaking other greens past her, but they’re all no-gos. Only zucchini makes it past her “veggie filter.”
However, safe as zucchinis may be for canines, you still need to observe a few warnings. Everyone wants their dogs to stay healthy and avoid potential complications. And it IS possible to have too much of a good thing.
Precautions When Dogs Eat Zucchini
You’ve probably noticed that zucchinis come in every shape and size. And that can present a little trouble. If you have a pup on the smaller side, they may end up choking on big chunks of zucchini. It’s best if you cut this watery treat up into reasonable-sized pieces before you offer it to your dog. That way, you don’t risk a problem. If your dog’s suffered from dental issues – something common in Pugs and Chihuahuas – steam the zucchini to soften it first.
When dogs eat zucchini ALL the time, you WILL see changes in their GI tract. These fruits contain plenty of fiber and water, and that changes the balance of the microbiome. As such, your dog may become gassy or develop diarrhea. We know zucchinis are healthy, but too many too often can lead to problems. It’s better if you make them an occasional treat.
Finally, zucchinis grow fast and easy. As such, many people add them to home gardens. And once a canine discovers this yummy delicacy? They can decimate a harvest in no time. Obviously, this leads to upset puppy tummies, but it can also present OTHER problems. Namely, what else you have growing besides the zucchini. Dogs don’t stop to read labels, and they may snack on plants that AREN’T dog-safe. You’ll want to make sure you have sturdy barriers in place to protect your pup.
Safe Ways for Dogs to Eat Zucchini
When most dogs eat zucchini, they aren’t picky. They’ll accept pieces that are raw, cooked, or steamed – much like us. Which is perfectly fine – provided you skip the seasonings. Oil, salt, and seasoning may contain toxic ingredients that can land your dog in the hospital. Garlic and onions rank at the top of the list. If you decide to add anything to YOUR portion of the zucchini, cook your dog’s pieces first. Then you can add whatever you want to yours.
Baked goods are also a no-no for dogs. The zucchini’s fine, but the sugar and extra calories aren’t healthy. You’ll find a sick canine on your hands. And that goes double if you choose a sugar-free version. Most sugar-free products use alternative sweeteners, such as xylitol. Dogs absolutely CANNOT have xylitol – it’s toxic. Rather than fussing with ingredient labels, skip the baked goods. Your dog will prefer the zucchini in the “original” packaging.
Bring on the Green Fruit!
Okay, so odds are stores won’t shift zucchinis to the fruit side of the produce aisle anytime soon. But the delicious and nutritious courgettes top everyone’s list – including canines. And when dogs eat zucchinis, they gain plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. As long as you monitor the size of the pieces you offer and limit how often you give this treat, it’s perfectly safe. With a naturally sweet taste, your dog won’t even realize they’re getting a healthy treat!