If you find yourself with an abundance of zucchini and a dog with pleading eyes, you might wonder, “Can dogs eat zucchini?” My garden did really well this year, and I had so much zucchini that I didn’t know what to do with it all! As I harvested the zucchini, I noticed my dog watching with great interest. At that moment I thought maybe I found someone to help me eat the zucchini, but is it safe for dogs to eat zucchini?
Dogs can eat lots of the same foods that you eat, but not all of them. If you’re thinking about sharing a particular food with your dog, it’s important to ensure that it won’t cause your pet any harm. Here’s what you need to know about sharing zucchini with your dog.
Check out our Vet’s List of Human Foods Dogs Can and Cannot Eat to learn more about what foods are safe for your dog.
Is It Safe for My Dog to Eat Zucchini?
Zucchini is very safe for dogs to eat. You can definitely enjoy giving your dog zucchini and not worry about harmful effects. In fact, zucchini has many health benefits for dogs, just as it does for humans.
Zucchini is high in water and fiber content.1 Having high water and fiber makes this food beneficial for the intestinal tract. The water and fiber content in zucchini allows for a reduced risk of constipation as well as an increase in the health of the good bacteria in the gut. High fiber can also help reduce hunger for those dogs that are on a weight loss diet.2
There are plenty of different vitamins and minerals in zucchini. This delicious food has plenty of vitamin A. Vitamin A is known to support healthy vision and the immune system. There is also a variety of other nutrients, including vitamin C, manganese, potassium, vitamin B6, and several others.3
Most dogs will enjoy the addition of zucchini to their diet, and that’s great because it is really healthy and beneficial food!
Minimal Safety Concerns and Risks Associated with Zucchini for Dogs
There are not many safety concerns with feeding your dog zucchini. Zucchini is really well-tolerated and enjoyed by most dogs. There are just a few things to think about before feeding your dog zucchini.
As with any food, going overboard and feeding really large volumes can cause gastroenteritis/intestinal upset.7 Especially if you are offering this food for the first time, start with small bites to make sure your pup enjoys this food without intestinal irritation.
If your dog has difficulty chewing, due to dental disease, age, or prefers to swallow food whole it may be best to serve your dog cooked or steamed zucchini that is softer.
Finally, don’t just take a whole zucchini from the garden and give it to your dog. Don’t even offer a large chunk. It’s best to chop or slice the zucchini so that your dog cannot swallow large pieces. It is possible if your dog swallows a huge section of zucchini that this can become lodged in the esophagus or the intestinal tract, resulting in a trip to the veterinary ER.8
How Much Zucchini Can I Feed My Dog?
As always, veterinary nutritionists recommend feeding your dog his balanced dog food as 90% of the calories he takes in. The remaining 10% of calories can be given as treats or other foods you would like to supplement.
For example, according to The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center’s Basic Calorie Calculator, a typical 25-pound dog needs approximately 700 calories per day. This means that 70 calories per day can come from treats. Remember, that means all treats you would like to give in a day should total 10% of his calories.
Zucchini is approximately 20 calories per cup.9 Technically, you could give that 25-pound dog more than 3 cups of zucchini per day. That being said, I would recommend feeding less than 3 cups of zucchini, so there are more calories left for other treats.
Always make sure that your dog is tolerating small amounts of zucchini before offering a large portion. I would recommend starting with a few bites of zucchini and gradually increasing how much you give over time. If any vomiting or diarrhea starts, then discontinue feeding the zucchini.
How to Prepare Zucchini for Your Dog
Zucchini can be fed to dogs in many different ways. It is perfectly acceptable to offer raw zucchini to your dog, provided he is capable of chewing it.
You can also steam, cook, or sauté zucchini for your dog. However, remember to avoid seasoning, salt, onions, garlic, or other foods or flavors that might be dangerous or irritating to your dog.
It is ideal to slice or chop the zucchini so your dog doesn’t choke or have intestinal blockage due to large pieces of zucchini.
Now you know that it’s safe to feed your dog zucchini. Always monitor your dog closely when giving him any human foods. If you notice any decrease in appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea, stop offering people food and consult with your veterinarian right away. Just as with people, some foods may be safe for dogs but still not agree with your dog’s tummy.
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- Quillin P. 8 Impressive Health Reasons to Eat More Zucchini — A Nutrient-Dense Food. Foodrevolution.org. Published July 25, 2018. Updated July 24, 2020. Accessed September 24, 2021.
- Finlay K. Benefits of High-Fiber Dog Foods. Akc.org. Published January 16, 2020. Accessed September 24, 2021.
- FoodData Central. Squash, summer, zucchini, includes skin, raw. Usda.gov. Accessed September 24, 2021.
- Martínez-Valdivieso D, Font R, Fernández-Bedmar Z, et al. Role of Zucchini and Its Distinctive Components in the Modulation of Degenerative Processes: Genotoxicity, Anti-Genotoxicity, Cytotoxicity and Apoptotic Effects. Nutrients. 2017;9(7):755. Published 2017 Jul 14. doi:10.3390/nu9070755
- Granado F, Olmedilla B, Blanco I. Nutritional and clinical relevance of lutein in human health. Br J Nutr. 2003;90(3):487-502. doi:10.1079/bjn2003927
- Fiedor J, Burda K. Potential role of carotenoids as antioxidants in human health and disease. Nutrients. 2014;6(2):466-488. Published 2014 Jan 27. doi:10.3390/nu6020466
- Hunter T, Ward E. Gastroenteritis in Dogs. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed September 24, 2021.
- Gibson TWG. Gastrointestinal Obstruction in Small Animals. Merckvetmanual.com. Updated June 2020. Accessed September 22, 2021.
- Nutritionix. Zucchini – 1 cup, chopped. Nutritionix.com. Accessed September 24, 2021.