My praise for winter squash continues to grow. I love its vibrant colours and irregular shapes. It’s an ideal food to add to your dog’s diet – fantastic actually!. Not only is it a powerhouse of antioxidants and other health-promoting nutrients but also because the high fibre content in winter squash allows your dog to stay full for fewer calories.
Autumn to winter is when the concentration of nutrients and flavour in winter squash are highest, and its cost is at its lowest so make the most of this deliciously sweet vegetable while it’s readily available.
Winter squash come in a bunch of different varieties, all of which are safe for your dog to eat.
How to spot a god squash
The protective skin keeps winter squash from going soft, which makes it a little harder to choose the good from the bad. But there are a few guidelines for picking out a perfectly ripe squash:
- Start by feeling it. It should be firm and heavy for its size. The skin should be hard, as a soft rind may indicate that the squash is watery and lacking in flavour.
- Bumps and discolouration on the skin are fine, but avoid those with any signs of soft spots, bruises or mould.
To prepare your squash, you can lay it on its side on top of a wet towel to stop it from rolling. Then, cut the top and the bottom off and stand it up (you can remove the towel as you now have the stability of the flat ends).
Use a sharp knife and gently follow the outside of the skin to remove it, cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds.
Or if you are like me – too lazy to tackle the tedious peeling part – just cut the squash in half, place it cut-side down on a baking sheet and into the oven. When the squash is ready, peel off the skin and use the flesh.
Your dog can eat the seeds too, but unless you roast and then grind them up, they’ll likely come out looking exactly as when they went in. Don’t worry about removing all the stringy material as these will dry up when roasted.
Beyond its delicious taste winter squash has an impressive nutrient profile. In fact, squash is incredibly healthy!
It’s packed with nutrients that are essential for your dogs eye health, immune function, heart beat and cell growth. What’s more, squash can help reduce joint inflammation and its low calorie and high fibre content makes it great for weight loss. What’s not to love!
In short, squash deserve a place on your dogs bowl!
Here’s a simple and yummy winter squash cookie recipe to get you started.
- 1 cup cooked & mashed winter squash
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 ½ cups wheat flour
Preheat the oven to 160C / 320F. Combine all ingredients. Add more flour if needed to produce a workable dough. Roll your dough to 5mm thickness and cut with your favourite cookie cutter. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and crisp.