Fun Facts Discovered: Can Dogs Eat Squash?
One of the most brilliant elements of being human is enjoying the fruits and vegetables fresh from the farm to the table throughout the year. Each season offers a different variety of fresh foods! Of course, we no longer have to wait for the season to arise for us to enjoy our favorite fresh foods. Now, we can find almost anything we desire at our local supermarkets. However, when a specific season arises, we cannot help but to go to a local farm and purchase their most recent picks. Squash is one of the most popular seasonal foods that we love to gather for decoration, for cooking and for carving. It is also one of the wholesome types of food that we can consume! However, are they also nutritious for our furry friends? Do they offer our canines the same health benefits as they do for humans? Alternatively, are they toxic to our four-legged family members? Let’s find out more about this beautiful seasonal plant as well as whether or not it is safe for our dogs to eat.
What is a squash?
For over 8,000 years, varieties of squash have been “domesticated” in gardens and farm-like areas. Archaeologists have discovered the remnants of this ancient domestication from (what is now) Canada, the United States, and even as far as South America. From what we can tell, squash, pumpkins, and gourds have been eaten and enjoyed since the beginning history of North America. These types of food were discovered here, likely by the Native Americans. They were then introduced to Europe when explorers of the New World (North America) returned home. These colorful plants quickly became a favorite source of food and oil to the Europeans. It should be mentioned that the Europeans may have become more creative with the cooking and other uses for squash, but, that the Native Americans were the first to “discover” the food and use it as such.
Types Of Squash
There are two different main groups of squash that we are familiar with. One of which is the annual group. The squash that are produced annually are considered short-lived and mesophytic. These are squash that generally thrive off of a constant supply of water. The other group does not require the constant water supply. In fact, they can tolerate rather dry conditions. Plants that can tolerate dry conditions are known as xerophytic. Also, these particular squash are perennials.
There are eight main varieties of squash. Each of them develops in a different season and provide individual benefits to humans. A few of them include:
- Acorn squash: This is considered a Winter squash and is in fact, edible. Today, many people warm this squash and add brown sugar to create a dessert-like treat. They are named for their natural acorn-like shape.
- Crookneck squash: These squash are named for their prominent “crooked ”. This is considered an edible Summer squash.
- Pumpkin: This is a very common type of squash for children to carve funny faces into during the month of Halloween. The parents usually remove the inside “” and seeds to salt and bake into a treat. Pumpkins are considered an edible Winter squash and are capable of growing quite enormous.
- Zucchini squash: This green squash is an edible Summer squash that is very popular in various recipes including Zucchini Bread!
- Ornamental Gourds: These are not an edible squash! They are named for their single use as a decoration during the Fall months of the year.
Can dogs eat squash?
Dogs can, theoretically, eat just about anything that a human can eat, including squash. Having said that, these animals are carnivores and will prefer a meaty steak to a slice of Zucchini any day. If you feel the strong desire to feed your dog vegetables such as squash, then there are some things that you should consider before you do!
Dogs do not “need to eat their vegetables” like humans do. Vegetables are nutritional requirements for our overall health and well-being. This is not the case for dogs. If vegetables were a necessity in their diet, then they would produce the herbivore enzyme, Amylase, in their salivary glands. This herbivore enzyme is responsible for the breakdown of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables. The enzyme is usually located in the salivary glands to catch these nutrients and break them down well before the food continues through the digestive tract. Your dog’s Amylase is not found until much later in his system which means that certain fruits and vegetables may make him sick since it is not broken down well enough. Do you still want to try giving your dog squash? If so, then continue reading for more information.
Before you go out into your garden and gather some fresh squash and feed it to your dog, do your research! By that I mean to consult your veterinarian. No one knows your dog quite like your veterinarian. She may require you to make an appointment so that she can make sure that your dog doesn’t suffer from any health conditions or allergies that would be triggered by the squash. The veterinarian will also be able to guide you if you should even attempt it or not.
Never feed your dog raw vegetables! Since his Amylase enzyme is not found in the salivary glands, the raw vegetables will not be broken down early on and will likely make him very sick. Cooked squash is much softer and is usually easier for them to digest. It will also probably taste better if it is cooked. Make sure you remove the outer “shell” of the squash before giving it to your dog. He will likely have an awkward time with this tough outer shell as well as get sick from it.
What you can do is boil the squash whole. Remove it, carefully, and allow it to cool enough so that you can safely touch it. Cut it up and remove the outer shell. Do not add spices, sauces, or butter. Your dog should be given a subtle amount of plain, cooked squash to start. Observe him carefully after he eats the squash. If he does not have an adverse reaction, then you may proceed. You can add a little cooked, plain squash to his regular dog food, plain cooked pasta, or rice. Remember that your dog still needs to consume his daily nutritional requirements with or without the squash. Do not overfeed your pooch as this can lead to severe health problems and even become fatal. Also, do not provide him with squash every day. Allow him to eat his regular meal the majority of the time.
Final thoughts to sum up:
Yes, you can potentially feed your dog squash. Avoid the ornamental gourds as they are not edible for any living being. They should be seen and not eaten. Check with the veterinarian before you ever feed your furry friend anything other than their kibble. When you do get the green light to feed your dog squash, make sure it is cooked and peeled for easier digestion for your dog.