Chayote squash isn’t something one thinks about every day, but if you’re reading this, you’ve either been thinking about feeding it to your dog, your dog has already tucked into some, and you want to know if it’s safe, or you thought the article was about dogs eating coyotes. Either way, you’re here now, so why not stay and learn more about this amazing little cucurbit and whether or not it’s safe for your dog to eat.
What Is Chayote?
Chayote (Sechium edule) is a fruit in the Cucurbitaceae family. It originates from Mexico and Central America but can now be found worldwide. Its flavor has been described as tasting of cooked cucumber, zucchini, or summer squash, and Chayote can prepare it in various ways.
For humans, Chayote is an excellent source of nutrition and antioxidants, and it provides several health benefits when added to a healthy diet. Dogs, however, are not human, so the question remains, can dogs eat Chayote, or is Chayote harmful to them? The simple answer is yes! Dogs can eat Chayote safely, and they can benefit from it as well!
Is Chayote Good for Dogs?
Chayote gourd is not harmful to dogs. In fact, it is a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are all essential for your dog’s heart, bone, and joint health. When dogs eat Chayote in addition to other healthful foods, they also benefit from its antioxidants and fiber.
Isn’t my dog a carnivore?
While it is true that your dog needs meat protein in her diet, she is not an obligate carnivore. Many people believe that dogs are strictly carnivorous, but the fact is that they are actually omnivores. Unlike cats, who are obligate carnivores, dogs have a digestive system that is able to pull nutrients from both meat and vegetable sources. For this reason, dogs can eat Chayote and benefit from it.
Raw or Cooked?
Now that you know your dog can eat Chayote, you may wonder whether it is better fed raw or cooked. Because your dog’s digestive system can’t efficiently break down raw vegetable matter, it is better for your dog to eat Chayote cooked. Failing to cook Chayote before feeding it to your dog properly could result in digestive upset, nausea, and even vomiting.
Proper Chayote Preparation Matters.
There are a number of ways Chayote can be prepared. However, many preparations for human use are not suitable for dogs. If you want your dog to eat Chayote, you must be certain that the complimentary ingredients you use are not toxic to dogs.
When preparing Chayote for your dog to eat, you will want to avoid adding the following:
Onions and chives contain thiosulphate, a compound known to damage red blood cells in dogs, causing anemia which can sometimes be fatal.
Garlic is especially high in thiosulphate. Like onions, garlic can cause anemia, sometimes fatal anemia, in dogs.
● Raisins and grapes
Raisins and grapes can make dogs sick even in small amounts. Worst-case scenarios have seen dogs die of kidney failure from these fruits.
Avocados contain a compound called persin, which causes nausea and vomiting in dogs. This can become severe, leading to dehydration.
● Added salt
Salt may seem like a way to spruce up your pet’s diet, but too much salt can cause seizures, neurological problems, and even death. It is best to avoid feeding your dog foods that are high in salt.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sugar substitute in human foods, chewing gums, and even toothpaste and mouthwashes. While xylitol is a great sugar alternative for humans, it is highly toxic for dogs.
Nutmeg is a common ingredient in many human desserts. While it isn’t likely to kill your dog if she steals a piece of pastry, it can cause her to feel anxious and wired and even nauseous. Nutmeg in larger doses can be extremely toxic and even fatal.
Many nut varieties are toxic to dogs. Their high-fat content can cause stomach and intestinal upset and sometimes can result in pancreatitis, which can be fatal. Apart from this, many nuts grow molds that are not toxic to humans but are toxic to dogs. Some nuts, such as macadamia nuts, can even cause fever, seizures, and paralysis.
Any time you prepare Chayote for your dog to eat, make sure you get your recipe from a reputable source familiar with animal food safety. If you aren’t sure if any other foods, seasonings, or herbs and spices are safe for your dog, it’s always wise to err on the side of caution. Consult your veterinarian before adding anything you aren’t sure about.
How Much Is Too Much?
As with anything that is good for you or your pet, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. This is especially true when you are introducing new foods to your dog. If you decide to feed your dog Chayote, it is wise to introduce it gradually along with more familiar foods.
If you’re introducing Chayote to your dog’s diet, giving her too much too soon can cause some side effects, namely, stomach upset, indigestion, flatulence, or vomiting. This list shouldn’t be too alarming. If your dog eats Chayote in moderation, she may never experience them at all.
Will Chayote Make My Dog Itch?
As with any new food, Chayote does have the potential for allergic reaction. While it is uncommon for Chayote to cause such reactions, it’s always a good idea to pay close attention to your dog when introducing any new foods, including Chayote. Further, if your dog is prone to skin conditions, you may want to stick with foods that you know will not irritate her.
Something to be aware of with any cucurbit is the potential for itching due to handling the raw fruits. Some people will itch after handling or peeling the raw Chayote, assuming this is because they are allergic. However, the substance that causes this itching is neutralized by proper cooking. This is one reason never to feed dogs raw Chayote.
Cause for caution.
It is important to note that even though dogs can eat Chayote when it is properly prepared, they can not eat the plant on which the chayote fruit grows, nor can they eat the flat seed, or pit, within. These parts of the chayote plant are toxic to dogs and should not be fed to them.
Chayote and Canine Diabetes.
Chayote is considered safe for humans with diabetes, but there isn’t much information on how diabetic dogs metabolize it. Because diabetic dogs are metabolically compromised and tend to be more sensitive to dietary changes, it’s best to consult your veterinarian before adding anything new to your diabetic dog’s diet.
This isn’t to say Dogs can’t eat chayote with diabetes; however, every dog is different, and diabetes is different at different stages. Your dog may not tolerate what another dog tolerates, and consulting your vet is good practice.
What Are the Benefits of Chayote for Dogs?
As discussed above, Chayote is a fantastic addition to your dog’s diet. When feeding properly prepared Chayote in moderation, your dog gets many of the same health benefits as humans do.
Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
It’s easy to provide a list of nutrients and beneficial elements of food, but having this information doesn’t really help you understand why these things are important and healthful for your dog. So, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of Chayote for dogs.
● Chayote contains dietary fiber, which helps keep your dog’s digestive tract moving. Healthy digestion is vital for your dog’s overall health, but more specifically for coat health, skin health, joint health, and heart health.
● Chayote is a great source of potassium. Potassium is an essential electrolyte that helps regulate your dog’s heart rhythm and heart rate. It also improves or helps maintain critical electrical function in the brain, the nerves, and the muscles.
● Chayote contains calcium and magnesium, which are both necessary for bone density and growth. These two minerals also aid in healing, muscle coordination, and mood balance.
● Chayote is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are natural compounds found in food that reduce cell damage and inflammation. Antioxidants can help your dog’s joints, and ligaments resist damage and heal faster. Antioxidants also protect your dog’s heart and other vital organs from cellular damage, which can help slow the aging process.
Can dogs eat Chayote? Yes, but only the fruit, properly prepared, and not the other parts of the plant or the seed (pit) inside. Chayote has a number of beneficial nutrients and natural compounds to boost your dog’s overall health and well-being, and it has a low incidence of allergic reactions. There may be some dogs who are sensitive to Chayote and who may develop an allergy to Chayote, but this is rare. If your dog shows signs of itching or other allergic symptoms, stop feeding Chayote to her.
Dogs with serious health conditions, such as diabetes, may not tolerate Chayote well. On the other hand, Chayote may benefit dogs with serious health conditions. It is always best practice to consult with your veterinarian before changing a dog’s diet with underlying health conditions.
Overall, Chayote is a great addition to a dog’s diet, and it can provide them with nutrients and fiber, decrease inflammation and increase digestive function. When properly prepared and fed in moderation, your dog may come to love this tasty treat!