Jack Russell sniffing a zucchini

Can Dogs Eat Zucchini? Learn Everything You Need To Know

Can dogs eat zucchini? If you’re tempted to give your pup a garden treat, zucchinis might be high up on the list.

After all, they are pretty cheap and if you have a plant in the garden, it’ll be producing like crazy! To avoid unwanted side effects, follow our expert’s advice!

Two zucchinis

Can Dogs Eat Zucchini?

The short answer is yes. This veggie is part of the Cucurbita plant family, meaning it’s related to melons, watermelons and pumpkins. And like all its cousins, it’s actually a great option to round up your dog’s diet!

Whether you choose yellow or green zucchini, all varieties are safe for dogs to eat. In fact, dogs can also eat zucchini skins and you don’t even need to peel them beforehand.

As a plus, zucchinis are very high in water and micronutrients. According to the latest research, some of the biological compounds found in zucchinis could improve your dog’s health in the long term!

Related: What Vegetables Can Dogs Eat?


Why Should Your Dog Eat Zucchini?

Dogs need to have a balanced diet, and while the best dog foods offer all the nutrients they need, it’s always nice to add some freshness. After all, you wouldn’t want to eat the exact same meal for days on end!

Adding vegetables and fruits to your dog’s bowl can be a nice way of sneaking in extra fibre and boosting their micronutrient intake. Plus, veggies like zucchini can also improve your pup’s health. Here’s why you should give zucchini to your dog:

It’s high in antioxidants

Toxins and free radicals from the environment are inevitable, but they also speed up the natural aging process for you and your dog. To help fight this, adding foods high in antioxidants can help slow down inflammation and promote good health.

According to research, zucchini is full of antioxidants and nutrients that can benefit your pup. Researchers know this veggie is high in vitamin C, carotenoids and healthy enzymes. These compounds are mainly found in zucchini’s skin, so don’t peel it off!

Zucchini contributes to healthy eyes

Adding zucchini to your dog diet could improve their eye health! This is especially important if you have a pup with a higher incidence of eye conditions. Some dog breeds that are more likely to have cataracts, macular eye disease and other genetic eye diseases are Retrievers, Collies and their mixes. Fortunately, zucchini is an easy way to help their eye health.

According to research, zucchini’s high levels of manganese, lutein and zeaxanthin could improve your retinal health and prevent degeneration. On top of this, these non-vitamin carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) have also been shown to improve brain function, blood flow and neural efficiency in in-vitro studios with other animals. This means your pup could stay sharp and lucid for longer, even as they age.

PRO TIP: These highly active compounds are also easily destroyed. Carotenoids are destroyed by too much heat, so we recommend cooking minimally. The best option is briefly blanching colourful veggies like zucchini to improve digestibility without getting rid of too many antioxidants.

It may lower their heart disease risk

According to research done with other animals, zucchini’s high fibre, potassium and carotenoid content could also help your dog’s heart health. These compounds can lower blood pressure, regulate cholesterol levels and improve other risk factors for heart disease.

The especially high potassium content in zucchini subtly lowers blood pressure because potassium dilates blood vessels. Then, the fibre binds with cholesterol, lowering its absorption through the digestive tract and eventually helping with blood cholesterol levels. Researchers found that pectin, in particular, binds to so-called “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and helps lower overall blood levels.

Zucchini is great for obese dogs

Is your dog an overeater? If you want to help them stay in shape, adding zucchini to their diet might be a great option. This veggie is a fave among dieters for a reason: it’s rich in fibre, high in water and has very few calories per portion.

For dogs, adding zucchini can bulk up their bowl without overindulging on calories. This means they’ll feel full without depending on tons of kibble. If you have a breed that’s prone to obesity, or your pup needs to lose a few kilos, add zucchini to the rotation!

PRO TIP: Mix zucchini in with their regular food instead of using it as a topper. If your dog isn’t used to the texture, or just doesn’t love zucchini on its own, using it as a topper could make them skip the meal entirely!

It improves digestion and your dog’s gut microbiome

Eating zucchini and other veggies regularly can greatly improve your dog’s digestion. This work in different ways: first, it boosts your dog’s daily water intake, reducing constipation. Next, zucchini is also rich in soluble and insoluble fibre, helping your pup’s intestine move along. Finally, its high fibre content also feeds the good bacteria in their gut, which in turn prevents ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer and more.

Lowers cancer risk

This comes back to zucchini’s high antioxidant content. Scientists now know that diets high in antioxidants consistently lower cancer risk among humans and other animals. Of course, this includes your dog! Zucchini and other veggies pack a ton of protective compounds against cancer, including selenium, vitamin B12, chlorophyll, carotenoids and folic acid.

Eaten regularly is may control blood sugar levels

Since this veggie is so fibre-rich, it can help keep blood glucose levels from spiking after meals. This is especially important if you’re feeding a diabetic pup, or one that is obese. Keeping your dog’s sugar levels stable can help lower their diabetes risk, control their condition if they are already diagnosed, and just help curb their appetite if they are an overeater.

It may help to get strengthen bones

Besides being antioxidant-rich, zucchini also has relatively high amounts of magnesium and vitamin K, which can help strengthen bones. Researchers in an animal study found that lutein directly stimulates bone formation. This means that eating carotenoid-rich foods regularly, including zucchini, could be beneficial for your dog’s bones as they grow and age.


How To Add Zucchini To Your Dog Diet

Zucchini is incredibly versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked. If you want to include more of it in your dog’s diet, you have a few options:

  • Sprinkle it as a topper (only if they already like it!)
  • Use it in dog-friendly bakes (this lowers antioxidant levels but preserves fibre)
  • Mix it with their regular food bowl

PRO TIP: Always chop up zucchini before serving. Make sure pieces are small enough not to be a choking risk, and steam it if your dog has trouble chewing properly or is old.

Dogs can eat zucchini raw or cooked, although if your pup has a sensitive stomach, cooking it might improve digestibility. On the other hand, try to choose fresh zucchini and pick those with the most vibrant colours. The deeper the colour of the skin and flesh, the richest it will be in beneficial compounds!

Finally, never give seasoned zucchini to your dog. Avoid cooking it in oil or spices since in some cases they might be toxic (like with garlic).


Final Thoughts

Zucchini is officially one of the best veggies to give to dogs. Vets love it because it’s high in water and fibre, but low in calories, so it adds flavour without extra calories. If you want to try it out, start with small quantities first.

Does your pup eat zucchini? Let us know in the comments down below!

References
  1. Ben-Nun, L. (2019). Characteristics of Zucchini. Ben-nun, L., Ed. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Liubov-Ben-Noun-nun/publication/335542665_CHARACTERISTICS_OF_ZUCCHINI/links/5d6cccc7a6fdcc547d721bac/CHARACTERISTICS-OF-ZUCCHINI.pdf
  2. Martínez-Valdivieso, et al. (2017). Role of zucchini and its distinctive components in the modulation of degenerative processes: genotoxicity, anti-genotoxicity, cytotoxicity and apoptotic effects. Nutrients, 9(7), 755. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537869/
  3. Ravikrishnan R et al. Safety assessment of lutein and zeaxanthin (Lutemax 2020): subchronic toxicity and mutagenicity studies. Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Nov;49(11):2841-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2011.08.011. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21872637/
  4. Bijsmans, E at al. "Increasing Dietary Potassium Chloride Promotes Urine Dilution and Decreases Calcium Oxalate Relative Supersaturation in Healthy Dogs and Cats." Animals 11.6 (2021): 1809. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/11/6/1809
  5. Cargo-Froom, C. L. et al. (2019). Apparent and true digestibility of macro and micro nutrients in adult maintenance dog foods containing either a majority of animal or vegetable proteins. Journal of animal science, 97(3), 1010-1019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6396241/
  6. Kim, H. W., et al (2000). Dietary lutein stimulates immune response in the canine. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 74(3-4), 315-327. http://aleksabokarev.narod.ru/foreignarticle2/12.pdf
Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is a dog lover & anthropologist. She enjoys writing content that will actually help people understand their dogs better. Eloisa is able to use her expertise to write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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