Can Dogs Eat Zucchini? 4 Benefits Of Zucchini

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can dogs eat zucchini

Dogs can eat Zucchini. It is among the safest vegetables that your dog can consume. The plant is not toxic to dogs, so your furry buddy can even eat the leaves and flowers.

Since the flowers and leaves of the zucchini plant are edible, you can shred them raw or cooked in the dog’s food.

Zucchini provides calcium, vitamin C, folate, potassium, and beta-carotene. This vegetable has a mild flavor that doesn’t overpower the dog’s palate. 

So can dogs eat Zucchini safely? Our research concluded that zucchini is a safe vegetable that is rich in nutrients and low in calories.

Can Dogs Eat Zucchini? Benefits of Zucchini

Below, you can find 4 of the main benefits of Zucchini:

1. It contains fiber for digestion

Fiber is essential for digestion and zucchinis has a high fiber content.

In one cup of sliced zucchini (113g), there are 1.1 grams of dietary fiber. Incorporate one cup of diced or sliced zucchini into your dog’s regular food to boost its fiber intake.

It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber [1]. Fiber helps prevent gastrointestinal problems like constipation

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve completely and increases stool bulk. On the other hand, soluble fibers are absorbed to provide energy to colonic cells in the dog’s large intestine. They also promote the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

2. Zucchini provides plenty of antioxidants

Zucchini comes with lutein and zeaxanthin, which are both antioxidants. These are carotenoids that protect your dog from unstable free radicals.

If free radicals are left unchecked, they can contribute to cancer and damage the dog’s DNA. 

That is because too many free radicals in your dog’s body cause your canine to age faster and make it susceptible to chronic diseases due to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the body’s equivalent to corrosion in metals.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin also boost visual function and retinal health for excellent eyesight.

3. Zucchinis are nutrient-dense

This vegetable contains vitamins, folate, beta-carotene, zinc, potassium, and manganese, among others.

Dogs cannot produce vitamins and minerals naturally. So they need nutrient-dense veggies like zucchini to maintain excellent health.

Vitamins: Zucchini comes with vitamin A which is essential for eyesight. It also helps boost the immune system and cell function. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant fighting free radicals in the dog’s body that cause inflammation and cognitive decline.

This vegetable also has vitamin K to help the dog’s blood clot, and it also contains Vitamin B complex that promotes the absorption of proteins and fats. B-complex also enables biochemical reactions that convert carbohydrates to glucose.

Zinc: Zinc promotes healthy skin in your dog and a healthy immune system. It also boosts the dog’s thyroid function.

Potassium: This mineral helps in the function of the nerves, heart, and muscles. It also regulates the PH levels of the dog’s internal organs, thereby regulating the acid levels.

Phosphorous:  Phosphorus supports kidney functions. A healthy kidney helps the dog’s body flush and clear out toxins that harm normal functions.

Calcium: Calcium is essential for the development of cartilage and bone in the dog’s body. It also helps with hormone transmission throughout the body.

Magnesium: This mineral is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions in a canine’s body, including:

  • Supporting nerve function
  • Enabling the heart to beat steadily
  • Maintaining healthy bones
  • Boosting muscle function
  • Promoting the immune system
  • Regulating blood glucose levels
  • Production of protein and energy

Copper:– The naturally occurring copper in Zucchini helps form collagen, dog bones, myelin, and connective tissues. Copper also aids in iron absorption for red blood cell function.

Folate: Folate helps with metabolism, normal blood formation, tissue regeneration, and immune functions in your dog’s body. Vitamin B9, which is naturally occurring folate, is also essential during pregnancy.

According to pet nutritionists [2], folate ensures rapid cell growth during pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence.

Beta-carotene: This is another powerful antioxidant found in zucchini. Beta-carotene [3] helps modulate your dog’s immune responses by increasing plasma antibody concentration.

4. It helps regulate weight

Despite being very nutrient-dense, this vegetable has very few calories. One cup of chopped zucchini, which is roughly 124 grams, contains as little as 21 calories, according to the US Department of Agriculture [4] nutrition facts.

That makes zucchini excellent for healthy weight loss. Read our article on How To Help A Dog Lose Weight, to learn more about dogs and weight loss.

The vegetable is also high in fiber and water, so the dog gets full faster and longer. Zucchini also contains little sugar, making it a low glycemic vegetable. That eliminates the issue of blood sugar spikes.

Vets recommend that vegetables should make 50% of your dog’s meal, 40% lean protein, and 10% carbohydrates.[5]

Typically, commercial dog food already contains a 50% vegetable ratio. So if you are going to add zucchini, a few bites will suffice.

If you add too much, you could upset the balance of the food leading to gastric upset. It is essential to always remember how much to feed your dog to avoid overfeeding it. 

Raw vs. Cooked Zucchini

Dogs can eat raw or cooked zucchini.

Roasting, baking, and steaming are the most common forms of cooking this veggie for your dog to consume. Most dog owners find that their canines prefer cooked zucchini over the raw option.

The heat releases the natural juices in cooked zucchini, making it sweet and palatable for the dog.

You can opt to give the dog raw slices of the veggie as a treat and cook some for the main meal.

Raw zucchini offers more vitamin C compared to the cooked version because heat reduces the vitamin’s potency in the latter.

How to Prepare Zucchini For Your Dog

Zucchini is simple to prepare. You can prepare it in a variety of ways:

  • Roasted
  • Raw
  • Cooked
  • Steaming

Preparing Raw Zucchini

  • Method #1

Slice the zucchini in appropriate bite-size bits and refrigerate them for a few minutes until they become cool (not frozen).

Feed them to the dog as treats. My dog loves zucchini treats after a game of fetch. I love them too because they are healthy and easy to prepare.

  • Method #2

Cut the zucchini into thin slices. Wrap the zucchini slices around dry kibble or dog treats.

Feed these to the dog as a snack.

Preparing Cooked Zucchini

  • Method #1

Roast the zucchini over an open fire to give it a smokey flavor. You can choose to remove some of the water from it by salting it before roasting.

That makes the zucchini a bit dry, and it works well if you are going to mix it into dry kibble. However, ensure the salt is very minimal.

If your dog eats wet food, you can roast the vegetable without salting it so that it retains most of the water and remains soft.

  • Method #2

Steaming zucchini is the fastest way to prepare this vegetable. Cut it into bite-sized pieces and steam until soft but not soggy.

Steamed zucchini is best as part of the dog’s main meal and not as a snack or treat.

  • Method #3

Baking is another method you can use to prepare this vegetable for your dog. Slice the zucchini into mid-sized slices and pop into the oven.

Remember not to add seasoning, flavoring, oils, fats, or butter during any preparation method. 

Also, it is best to chop up the zucchini to break down the skin and release the nutrients within. The skin of the vegetable is a powerhouse of all the nutrients mentioned above.

How Much Zucchini Can I Feed My Dog?

Do not overfeed the zucchini to your dog, or you may end up dealing with a gassy pooch. Too much zucchini may also cause other gastric issues like loose stool.

Begin by feeding in small quantities, especially if your dog is not used to the vegetable.

Introducing the vegetable in small quantities allows you to monitor how your dog reacts to it. If 24 hours after consumption, the dog doesn’t have any reaction, you can increase the portion and then monitor for another 24 hours.

If there is no reaction after the increase, your dog can continue to consume the vegetable in moderation.

However, it is best to limit your dog’s zucchini intake to the following amounts depending on the dog breed:

  • Small dogs:- one or two teaspoons
  • Medium dogs:- two to three teaspoons
  • Large dogs:- one or two tablespoons

Do not feed dogs under six weeks of age any vegetables, including zucchinis. Their digestive systems are still developing, and they cannot process solid or raw food properly.

Best Practices When Feeding Your Dog Zucchini

Bellow, you can find some rules to follow when feeding your dog Zucchini:

Avoid the bitter Zucchini

As earlier mentioned, the zucchini plant, including the flowers and leaves, are safe for your dog to eat. However, you may come across a bitter zucchini.

Bitter zucchinis have a bitter taste due to a biochemical known as cucurbitacins. Unfortunately, cucurbitacins [6]are harmful to your dog causing gastric upsets like diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.

Taste the zucchini before you prepare it for your dog. If it is bitter, throw it away.

Do not prepare Zucchini with seasoning

Seasoning and salt tend to cause an increase in urination and thirst in canines. They can also cause your dog to have loose stool, nausea, or vomit.

Seasoning also has many artificial additives like coloring and flavor that may induce allergies in your dog.

Fats and oils can also make your dog vomit, have diarrhea or be nauseous.

However, there are herbs that your dog may enjoy which you can use when preparing the zucchini. These include parsley and basil. But as you may notice, these are natural herbs and not processed seasoning.

For oil, you can use olive oil, which is safe and healthy for your dog.

Keep the skin on

Do not peel the skin off the zucchini. It is best to retain the skin on the zucchini when preparing the vegetable because the skin contains the most antioxidants.

And don’t worry, the skin is easy to chew, whether raw or cooked. As long as you chop the zucchini into bite-sized bits, your dog will have no problem chewing and swallowing the skin.

Shop for fresh produce

It is critical to use fresh zucchini sourced from organic sources. But there are many zucchini varieties available, making it challenging to know which one is best for your dog.

The gray and bulbous variety tends to have a mild flavor and is firmer. On the other hand, the thin, dark variety has a rich flavor and is more tender.

You can cook each separately and feed your dog a little of each to see which one it prefers.

When buying, choose small to medium zucchinis of no longer than 8 inches. Fresh zucchini will have tiny hairs and is firm.

The Bottom Line

Zucchini is a flavorful vegetable that your dog can enjoy. But most importantly, it is safe and healthy.

Dogs can eat zucchini raw or cooked as long as it is not bitter.

Photo of author
Author
Andrei Bratu
Andrei is the owner of Dog Food Camp and manages the team of expert writers on the site. He is passionate about helping dog lovers learn about canine nutrition.

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