If you’re a dog owner, you’ll know the struggle that comes with cooking yourself dinner only to look down and see a pair of puppy eyes staring up at you, pleading for a taste of your delicious meal!
After a while, you’ll usually give in to this and throw your canine companion a little sample of what you’re cooking.
However, this is often followed by a second thought of whether or not the food you’ve just given them is actually safe. This is especially true for vegetables, with many being toxic to dogs.
But can dogs eat butternut squash? Put simply, yes, they can. In fact, you’ll sometimes see butternut squash listed amongst the ingredients of some dog food brands. It’s also one of the healthiest foods you can give a dog. Why is this, though? Keep reading to find out!
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The Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Butternut Squash
The main reason why butternut squash is included in many dog foods is that it’s full of vitamins and minerals that will keep your dog happy and healthy. Let’s take a look at a few of the health benefits your dog will get from eating butternut squash in more detail below.
Butternut squash is an excellent source of fiber for your dog, and an occasional serving will help to keep their digestive system working properly and maintain a healthy digestive tract. It can also help to restore balance if your dog is suffering digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea.
Every dog, big and small, needs Vitamin A in their diet, and butternut squash contains loads of it! The purpose of Vitamin A is to improve the immune system and maintain healthy vision.
Butternut squash also contains loads of different antioxidants that help to fight free radicals, which are the starting-point molecules for lots of different diseases. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an excellent choice for dogs with arthritis.
Potassium is another mineral that you’ll find in butternut squash, and it’s essential for keeping your dog’s bones strong and healthy. This makes it a great addition to an older dog’s diet.
You’ll also find a high level of Vitamin B6 in butternut squash, and this is responsible for helping to improve and maintain your dog’s nervous system.
Things to be Aware of When Feeding Your Dog Butternut Squash
Even though butternut squash is immeasurably good for your dog, there are some things you need to be aware of before you start adding it to their diet. This is actually true for any vegetable but, for butternut squash, here are some specific things to consider:
The first thing to think about is the carbohydrate content in butternut squash. Like all starchy vegetables, butternut squashes are packed with carbohydrates that will give your dog loads of energy to power them through the day.
However, too many carbohydrates can create weight gain, especially if they are being used up during exercise.
With this in mind, it’s important to make sure that you’re giving your dog the right amount of butternut squash for their size and activity level.
Raw vs Cooked
It’s also important to make sure that you only give your dog cooked butternut squash. Raw butternut squash is much harder for your dog to digest and this can lead to stomach pain and digestive issues.
It’s best to go for fresh butternut squash as well, rather than pureed, canned squash which can have a high sodium content. It’s easy enough to cook a butternut squash yourself simply by roasting it in the oven.
Just make sure you don’t add any extra spices to it as this could also create digestive issues.
Finally, as with any new food that you’re introducing your dog to, it’s important to look out for the signs of an allergic reaction.
If, after giving them butternut squash, you notice excessive itching, a runny nose, watery eyes, excessive sneezing, or a swollen face, take your dog straight to the veterinarian’s office.
How Much Butternut Squash Should You Feed a Dog?
As a general rule, the safest way to introduce your dog to butternut squash is by mixing it in with their existing food. However, the amount you feed them will ultimately depend on the size of your dog.
For example, a medium-sized dog should be fed one or two chunks of cooked butternut squash, while a larger dog should have twice this amount.
The main thing to remember is that moderation is key regardless of how big or small your dog is.
To stop yourself from accidentally overfeeding your dog with butternut squash, it’s best to mix it in with their regular food. If it’s spilling over the edges of the bowl or it simply looks like a massive portion – you’ve probably overdone it!
Butternut Squash Dog Treats – Recipe
If you think your dog will be a little too fussy to eat butternut squash that’s been mixed in with their regular food, but you still want them an extra boost of vitamins and minerals, try making these Butternut Squash Dog Treats.
- 1 butternut squash
- ¼ cup of xylitol-free peanut butter
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
- 2 tbsp ground pumpkin seeds
- 1.5 cups ground oats
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Start by preheating the oven to 350ºF.
- Put the butternut squash on a baking tray and slide it into the oven to bake for 30 mins. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Cut the cooled butternut squash in half and scrape out the flesh, discarding the seeds. Place the flesh in a bowl and mash with a fork.
- Add the flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and oats to the butternut squash and mix.
- Add the peanut butter and cinnamon, and mix again.
- Using your hands, work the ingredients together until you have a dough. Once formed, tip this out onto some baking paper, and cover with another sheet of baking paper.
- Flatten the dough out with your hands then, using a rolling pin, roll to a thickness of ¼-inch.
- Take a cookie cutter and cut shapes out of the dough.
- Place your cookies on a baking sheet that’s lined with parchment.
- Slide them into the oven and bake for 18/20 minutes.
These dog treats will last for up to a week in your refrigerator, and they can be frozen for up to three months.
Feeding butternut squash to your dog is totally safe, and it’s an excellent way to get some extra vitamins and minerals into their diet.
You need to practice moderation though, otherwise, you may find that your dog starts gaining weight pretty quickly! And, whenever you’re introducing them to a new food, you should monitor them closely for allergic reactions.