Can Dogs Eat Squash? Review of This Versatile Ingredient

Published October 22, 2021
French bulldog in a squash field

A dropped zucchini or butternut cube can easily be snatched up by a quick dog. If you're wondering whether dogs can eat squash, the answer is yes. All squash varieties are packed with vitamins and quite low in calories, making them great snacks for dogs. However, before you hand your pup a piece, it's important to know how to safely prepare it for your dog, and which parts to leave behind.

Can dogs eat squash infographic

Squash Is a Safe Treat for Your Dog

Squash, given in appropriate amounts, is safe for dogs. In fact, it's often used in many fresh or homemade dog food recipes thanks to its many health benefits. Depending on the type of squash, it can provide your pup with essential minerals like potassium, folate, beta-carotene, antioxidants, and vitamins E, C, A, and B. It's also very low in calories and loaded with fiber and moisture.

That said, "squash" is a rather vague term for a large group of fruit (yes, they're technically fruit)! There are dozens of varieties which are typically categorized as winter squash or summer squash. The good news: they are all safe for your dog.

A few of the most common types of dog-friendly squash include the following.

Summer Squash (skin is soft and thin):

  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Pattypan squash
  • Globe squash

Winter Squash (skin is hard with large seeds):

  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Kabocha squash
  • Buttercup squash
  • Delicata squash
  • Banana squash
  • Turban squash
  • Hubbard squash

How Much Squash Can Your Dog Have?

According to the widely recommended 90/10 rule, treats can encompass up to 10 percent of your dog's daily caloric intake. That means a typical 50-pound dog could have up to 80 calories worth of treats each day. That's about one cup of acorn squash, or four cups of zucchini. This vast difference is because each type of squash has different caloric densities.

Squash is healthy, but it's packed with fiber and moisture, which can potentially cause diarrhea if you give too much. As with any new addition to your dog's diet, it's important to start small, then gradually increase the amount. Begin with a tablespoon to see how they tolerate it first.

Squash Nutrition Information

When calculating how much or deciding which type of squash to offer your dog, consider their nutritional benefits.

  • Yellow squash: 19 calories/cup - rich in potassium and folate
  • Zucchini: 21 calories/cup - high in beta-carotene and vitamin A
  • Pattypan squash: 23 calories/cup - packed with niacin and vitamin C
  • Pumpkin: 30 calories/cup - excellent source of iron, folate, and vitamin E
  • Kabocha squash: 30 calories/cup - loaded with vitamins C and A
  • Spaghetti squash: 31 calories/cup - rich in manganese and vitamin B6
  • Buttercup squash: 40 calories/cup - great source of potassium and vitamin B
  • Hubbard squash: 46 calories/cup - excellent source of vitamin C
  • Acorn squash: 56 calories/cup - full of calcium and vitamins A and C
  • Butternut squash: 63 calories/cup - loaded with magnesium and potassium
  • Turban squash: 76 calories/cup - rich in potassium and vitamin A
  • Delicata squash: 80 calories/cup - packed with potassium and lutein
  • Banana squash: 82 calories/cup - high in vitamins A and C

How to Prepare Squash for Your Dog

The best preparation technique typically depends on the type of squash. As a rule, most squash must be cooked before it's safe for your pup. The exceptions are zucchini, yellow squash, pattypan, or any other summer squash which can be given as-is. Essentially, if you wouldn't eat it raw, don't feed it to your dog raw.

Man hands slicing pumpkin on cubes on cutting board

Raw winter squash is difficult for dogs to digest; so it can cause gastrointestinal upset. Instead, steam, boil, bake, broil, or sautée it first. When cooking squash specifically for your pup, or deciding whether it's safe to offer them some of your holiday side dish, keep these guidelines in mind.

  • Steer clear of any squash that has been cooked with oil or butter. These high-fat ingredients can make your dog sick, or even cause pancreatitis.
  • Avoid salt, spices, seasonings, herbs, or sugar. These can upset your dog's stomach and lead to vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Never give your dog any squash prepared with onion or garlic, as these additions are toxic to dogs.
  • Avoid large pieces of cooked squash or raw summer squash. Cut food into bite-sized pieces to prevent choking.
  • Remove the seeds and skin of winter squash before cooking or serving.
  • Do not feed your dog any squash that has gone bad or is moldy.

Squash Safety Hazards

While the flesh of winter squash is a great treat, other parts aren't ideal for dogs.

  • Skin. The skin of winter squash is usually hard and stringy, even after it has been cooked. Although it's not toxic to dogs, the skin isn't easy to digest. If your dog eats a piece, they might experience unpleasant vomiting or diarrhea - not ideal for a holiday weekend.
  • Seeds. Similar to squash skin, seeds are hard to digest. They can cause stomach upset or even create a blockage in the intestines if your dog eats enough.
  • Stem. Squash stems pose as a choking hazard and can cause intestinal obstructions if they're ingested.

Squash Treats and Diets for Dogs

Given the beneficial vitamins and minerals squash contains, you may be interested in adding it to your dog's diet. Consider topping your pup's bowl off with some cooked squash (similar to what many owners do with canned or cooked fresh pumpkin to firm up soft stool), baking a batch of squash-based dog treats, or even switching your dog to a diet containing squash. Raw summer squash can be used as a low-calorie treat for dogs on a weight-loss diet.

Can Dogs Eat Squash?

A resounding yes, squash has many health benefits for both humans and dogs. However, this fiber-packed fruit can cause diarrhea if given in excess. Use caution when sharing your holiday squash dish with your pup, as some ingredients in traditional dishes can be toxic.

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Can Dogs Eat Squash? Review of This Versatile Ingredient