With fall quickly approaching, you'll see pumpkin items popping up all over the place. Pumpkin candles, pumpkin decorations, pumpkin spice lattes... 'Tis the season for pumpkin, it seems.
All of the pumpkin hype might have you wondering: Can dogs eat pumpkin?
The answer is yes, dogs can eat pumpkin, provided it's given to them the right way. In fact, pumpkin can be beneficial to dogs. However, it also presents a few risks. Dog owners should make sure they give their dogs pumpkin in a safe and healthy manner.
Let's examine some of the health benefits and risks associated with pumpkin. We'll also learn how to feed dogs pumpkin in a safe way. Then, your dog can join in on the pumpkin festivities with the whole family this season.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Adding pumpkin to your dog's diet can benefit your four-legged friend in a variety of ways. Feeding pumpkin can give your dog a little nutritional boost, help with digestion, and aid in weight control.
Often, pumpkin is given to dogs as a digestive aid. It helps to soothe and regulate a dog's digestive system because of its high fiber content. This can help in two ways.
First, pumpkin can help make stools more solid and regular if your dog has diarrhea. The fiber acts as a prebiotic to promote the growth of good bacteria in your dog's gut. On the flip side, a dog suffering from constipation may gain some relief from pumpkin, as it can ease mild to moderate constipation.
Another way to maintain a healthy microbial balance in Fido's digestive system is by giving them a probiotic. Native Pet's all-natural probiotic formula can help create a thriving environment for healthy flora in the gut.
Vitamins and Minerals
Pumpkin contains a few vitamins and minerals that are good for dogs, too. They include:
- Vitamin A: important for brain and eye development as well as immune system function
- Vitamin C and Vitamin E: antioxidants that help combat free radicals, which are harmful agents that can trigger abnormal cell growth
- Potassium: a mineral that helps maintain muscle strength and growth
- Beta carotene: a red-orange pigment from plants that aids in immune system response
- Magnesium: a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and maintain healthy bones
Did you know that adding pumpkin to your dog's meals can also be a good way to help them control their weight? One of the additional benefits of fiber is that it helps your dog feel full. That means that eating a food high in fiber — like pumpkin — helps them to feel fuller faster, ultimately aiding in weight control. It's the same reason that many weight-loss diets for dogs are high in fiber.
So, can dogs eat pumpkin as a way of supplementing a healthy diet? Yes, as long as it's given properly (more on that below). But it's important to understand the risks of eating too much pumpkin.
Fiber, Raw Pumpkin, and Pumpkin Filling
We've seen that pumpkin can help if your dog has diarrhea or if they're constipated. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals, and its high fiber level can help keep a dog from packing on too many extra pounds. With all of that being said, it's important to take a look at the risks of pumpkin, too.
Fiber is a double-edged sword. It's great for your dog in the right amount. But too much can upset your dog's stomach or lead to vomiting. The same goes for vitamin A — while it's not extremely common, too much vitamin A can result in poisoning.
Feeding your dog raw pumpkin really isn't worth the risk of choking. Don't feed your pooch raw pumpkin flesh or the skin or stem of the gourd. Plain canned pumpkin is more nutritious anyway, because it's less watery than fresh pumpkin.
However, canned pumpkin is very different from pumpkin pie filling. When you're at the grocery store looking for pumpkin items for your dog, don’t put canned pumpkin pie filling in your cart. It's chock-full of harmful ingredients for dogs like added sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Avoid sugar-free plain canned pumpkin, too, as it may be sweetened with an artificial sugar called xylitol that is toxic to dogs.
How to Feed Your Dog Pumpkin
Can dogs eat pumpkin in a way that's safe for them and doesn't present any health hazards? Yes.
Only feed your dog plain canned pumpkin to play it safe. Avoid canned pumpkin with additives like sugars, spices, or fillers, as well as sugar-free pumpkin. Be careful not to give your dog pumpkin pie filling, either. And, of course, never feed your dog pumpkin pie itself.
If you're going to give your dog fresh pumpkin, don't give it to them raw. Cook fresh pumpkin thoroughly by baking it in the oven, then remove the skin and any pumpkin seeds. Next, use a food processor or blender to make a pumpkin puree out of the flesh.
Ask your vet about feeding your dog pumpkin seeds. When fully cooked and given in small amounts, the seeds can offer health benefits to your dog. They're packed with beneficial fatty acids that have powerful antioxidant properties.
Last but not least, feed your dog pumpkin in small amounts. Whether it's plain canned pumpkin or a homemade pumpkin puree, give your dog 1-2 small teaspoons at a time, perhaps over top of their normal dog food. Too much of any new food at one time, pumpkin included, can cause stomach upset, vomiting, or diarrhea.
You can also make your own pumpkin dog treats. Mix canned pumpkin or pureed, cooked pumpkin with flour and eggs. Form the mixture into cookies to bake in the oven. Ask your vet for exact ingredient amounts, and check if you're ever unsure about the safety of an ingredient.
Don't feel like cooking? Native Pet's organic, air-dried pumpkin powder makes things easy. Just mix it with water, and you're ready to feed it to your pet.
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin?
Can dogs eat pumpkin? Yes, they can, and it's good for them in small amounts and when prepared properly. Plain pumpkin offers healthy fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Pumpkin treats made specifically for dogs are also a good choice. In addition to its nutritional benefit, pumpkin works well as a digestive aid for diarrhea or constipation.
It's important that only plain canned pumpkin is used, or fully-cooked fresh pumpkin that's been pureed to make it easy for your dog to eat. Avoid pumpkin pie filling, sugar-free canned pumpkin, and raw pumpkin. Give your dog cooked, plain pumpkin seeds sparingly, and ask your vet for specifics on whether or not pumpkin seeds are right for your dog.
Since too much pumpkin can make your dog sick, keep the portion size small whenever you're feeding Fido pumpkin. A few small teaspoons over your dog's food will do the trick.
If your dog is experiencing diarrhea that seems severe or is happening frequently, or if they've been constipated for longer than a full day, it's time to call the vet. It's always best to play it safe and get your dog checked out.
Would you like further insights into your dog's nutrition, health, and wellness? Take a look at the Native Pet blog for more articles.