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Can Dogs Eat Zucchini? Yes, With Major Health Benefits!

Last Updated: September 19, 2023 | 7 min read | Leave a Comment

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This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not substitute as contact with a trained professional. If your dog ate zucchini and is reacting adversely, contact your local veterinarian.

You’ve landed on this page looking to find out if dogs can eat zucchini. The short answer is Yes. As long as your dog isn’t allergic to them, zucchini is quite a healthy canine snack. Zucchini, ‘marrow’ or ‘courgettes’ as they’re known in some parts of the world, are a delicious, easy-to-grow vegetable packed with good nutrition. We know veggies like sweet potatoes are good for dogs, but is zucchini as good for dogs as it is for us?

Zucchini is a type of cucurbit (a family that includes cucumbers, melons, and squash). It grows easily in a northern climate. They are usually mottled green, but similar to peppers, they can also be solid green or yellow. It is also called summer squash. The skin on the zucchini is also very thin, while the inside is fleshy and soft. They are usually long and thin, but round cultivars also exist. In other English-speaking parts of the world, they are known as marrow, baby marrow, and courgettes.

Like other veggies, zucchini is considered generally safe for dogs to eat. So are other members of the cucurbit family. They do not cause many adverse effects, except where too much zucchini is eaten. It’s also possible that an individual dog is intolerant of zucchini. Almost all dogs can eat zucchini quite happily. Let’s look at some additional detail into this antioxidant-packed veggie and the nutrients it can add to your dog’s diet.

Zucchini Nutrition Benefits

Zucchini Nutrition Food
Zucchini is highly nutritious and goes well with dry kibble.

As a vegetable, summer squash is very low in calories. It contains just 17 calories in a cup of cooked zucchini. It’s also low in fat, containing just a gram in a cup. This makes it perfect for adding to the diets of dogs that need to lose weight instead of some of their other, fattier treats. For instance, swapping out a large milk bone (115 calories) for a chunk of zucchini (5 calories) means your dog gets 110 fewer calories. They’ll also still feel that they’re getting a special treat.

In addition to the low-calorie count, zucchini is also high in vitamin A. This is one of the most essential vitamins for your dog. Courgettes also contain a large percentage of your dog’s daily needs for manganese. Manganese is a mineral that can be hard to find in many vegetables. Along with that, zucchini has a good deal of healthy dietary fiber, which aids in digestion.

According to the USDA, they also contain Vitamin C, K, and B6, magnesium, potassium, folate, phosphorus, and copper. These are all things that your dog’s body needs in small amounts. They also contain carotenoids, an important antioxidant that has been studied for its effects on blood sugar and insulin levels.

There has also been some research suggesting that zucchini seeds may have an effect on prostate problems, reducing the size of the prostate. This research needs further study before any definitive conclusions can be made.

Introducing Zucchini To Your Dog

Introducing Zucchini Dog
As with any new food item, you should slowly introduce zucchini to your dog.

How much zucchini can dogs eat? If you think you’d like to introduce zucchini to your dog’s diet, then it’s important to introduce it slowly. Any dog can be intolerant to any food. It’s safest to assume that your dog could have a problem and be cautious. Start off by giving your dog a small piece of zucchini, about the size of a piece of their kibble. Larger pieces or whole vegetables can be a choking hazard. Watch for adverse symptoms like an upset stomach.

You can give them a little more if they’re fine after 24 hours. If, after 24 hours, they’ve still shown no adverse effects (usually manifesting as upset stomach, diarrhea, poor appetite, vomiting, or itchiness), then they’re probably safe to eat zucchini.

Most people add zucchini to their dog’s diet as an occasional treat. Remember that your dog’s diet is carefully balanced to have everything they need. Upsetting that balance can cause problems. For some minerals, more is not always better. This means it’s crucial to ensure that your dog’s kibble still makes up most of their diet.

You can give up to 10% of your pet’s calorie allowance in treats without upsetting the balance. However, you’ll also need to remove some calories from their usual diet so that they have the same total calories overall. For instance, a 15kg dog of a healthy weight and average exercise can have around 75 calories of treats and extras daily but needs 75 fewer calories in their daily kibble ration. Your local veterinary clinic can help with these calculations to ensure you don’t overfeed your dog.

Zucchini Consumption Frequency

If you want to add zucchini to your dog’s diet more often, it might be easier to research a diet that already contains zucchini as part of its balanced ingredients. Some dog food brands do this already. As always, we recommend you look closely at the company and evaluate its credibility before buying any new food. The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) has produced this document to help pet owners.

Remember, you should always change your dog’s diet slowly by carefully increasing the amount of the new diet and decreasing the amount of the old diet over at least a week- two weeks for dogs that are prone to stomach upsets. You should also remember that every food has a different calorie content, so if you do change the food, you should read the feeding guidelines of the new food to check how much your dog needs.

Zucchini In Dry Dog Foods

Dry Dog Food made with Zucchini
Zucchini is sometimes used by some dry kibble manufacturers.

Although zucchini isn’t a common ingredient in dog food, perhaps in part because it is a seasonal vegetable that’s expensive for much of the year, it is found in a few dog foods. Some quick web research yielded around 30 dog food varieties that include zucchini.

Some brands that use zucchini in their formulas include Canidae and Orijen. These are both brands we’ve compared and reviewed in the past. If you’d like a dry food that includes zucchini, you can find it in Orijen’s Six Fish formula, which we recommend for Golden Retrievers and also for German Shepherds. Canidae also has formulas that include zucchini as an ingredient, and Canidae makes some of our favorite recipes for larger puppies as well as for smaller breeds.

Zucchinis are a common constituent of “biologically appropriate” style dog foods- those that market themselves as being better for your dog because they are more similar to the natural diet a wolf would eat. They’re a much less common ingredient in dry kibble, and they are the least common in canned dog food. They’re probably added for their nutrient profile, as zucchinis have lots of vitamins and minerals that may be hard to find elsewhere.

Zucchini: Raw vs. Cooked

Raw vs Cooked Zucchini for dogs
Dogs can eat raw zucchini or cooked, but cooking zucchini makes it easier to chew.

Like humans, dogs can eat raw zucchini or cooked– it doesn’t matter. Dogs may prefer cool-cooked summer squash, as this has a higher sugar content and tastes sweeter. Most dogs will happily snack on a slice of raw zucchini, though, and they are far more nutritious than junk food like graham crackers.

If you plan on cooking zucchini for your dog, baking it without oil is often the best preparation method. Be careful that you don’t cook it alongside other things that we humans eat. Garlic and oils are both commonly cooked with zucchini, and both can cause problems for your dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have some questions when it comes to dogs eating zucchini? Below are some additional commonly asked questions that many dog owners have before feeding their pup this antioxidant-dense vegetable.

Can Dogs Eat Zucchini Skin?

Dogs can eat zucchini skin, just as they can eat the rest of the summer squash flesh. In fact, like many other vegetables, the skin contains most of the vitamins and minerals- especially in comparison to the flesh, which can be quite watery. Do bear in mind, though, that the skin can be a little sharp, hard, or crunchy, and some dogs may not like this. The skin is edible, though, unlike other fruits such as pineapple.

Can They Eat The Seeds?

While many varieties of zucchini have been bred to have as few seeds as possible, your dog may well eat one or two whille they are chowing down on zucchini. Luckily, there are no known side effects for dogs eating zucchini seeds. Unlike many other seeds, they don’t contain cyanide or other dangerous chemicals.

Can All Dogs Eat It?

There are not known to be any breeds of dogs that shouldn’t eat zucchini. There are also no known problems with gender. It’s not a good idea to feed a puppy zucchini (apart from a tiny taste) until they are older than six months, as they need extremely carefully balanced nutrition while they are growing.

Senior pups can enjoy zucchini in careful amounts, too. There are no diseases that are thought to be influenced by eating zucchini. In other words, other than very young puppies, all dogs can have a bit of zucchini.

Do All Pups Like It?

Many dogs like zucchini as a snack or as an addition to their diet, but this all depends on your dog’s preferences. Some dogs are picky and will only eat certain types of food.

Older dogs may not like the texture if it’s too tough. It’s a good idea to introduce your dog to a variety of tastes and textures early on so that they are better able to accept new flavors of dog food as they get older.

Some dogs will try zucchini and spit it back out. It’s usually a good idea to try again, as they may well accept it a second time. If your dog doesn’t like zucchini after a couple of days of trying, they probably don’t like it. Of course, you can try to cook it to change the flavor and texture. They may well like it if it’s cooked differently.

Final Thoughts

Taken in moderation, zucchini is a healthy treat for almost all dogs. It’s well-tolerated and full of vitamins and minerals while remaining low in calories, making it an excellent snack or treat. Different textures and flavors are a great way to keep your dog’s brain active as they age. Of course, every dog is different, so we recommend you introduce it slowly and try a small piece first before giving them more significant amounts.

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