Be it pumpkin spice lattes or pumpkin pies, we love the taste and smell of this round winter squash. It reminds us of cozy memories, jack-o-lanterns, and many other fall festivals. But have you ever wanted to share a slice of pumpkin with your dog?
The good news is you can! Pumpkin is one such food that can offer the right amounts of vitamins and other needed nutrients to your dog. But not all kinds of foods made with pumpkin are safe for dogs.
This article will guide you on how to feed pumpkins to your dog without causing any health issues. But first, let's explore some more amazing health benefits of pumpkin for a dog.
8 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs
Pumpkin has a ton of different benefits for dogs. We'll discuss 8 such amazing benefits that help support your dog's overall health.
1. Highly Nutritious
Pumpkin is a superfood for your dog. It contains vitamin A which promotes healthy skin and eyes including night vision. It’s also a great source of vitamins C and E, as well as minerals like iron and potassium which help regulate your dogs’ blood pressure, improve muscle health, and boost immune health.
Vitamin E helps keep away free radicals that can trigger abnormal cell growth. Whereas iron helps keep your dog’s hemoglobin levels up.
2. Great for Digestion
A healthy digestive system is crucial for your dog. Pumpkin has a high soluble fiber content, which aids digestion. This fiber content adds bulk to your dog’s stool by absorbing water. This helps treat diarrhea.
What if your dog has constipation? Feeding your dog pumpkin for mild constipation can help. You can add 1-to-3 tablespoons of pumpkin to your dog’s diet and the fiber content of the pumpkin will help in eliminating the feces from the body.
But do remember to keep your dog well hydrated when increasing the fiber content of their diet otherwise constipation can get worse.
Furthermore, the fermentation of fiber produces fatty acids that supply energy to cells. Thus pumpkin also helps in lowering the acidity level in the large intestines of your dog.
3. Tastes Great
Pumpkin has a slightly sweet taste and a rich creamy flavor which is appealing to even the fussiest dogs. You can get these in various forms - canned, cooked, and pureed according to your preference.
But do avoid buying pumpkin pie filling or spiced canned pumpkin. It might contain ingredients like sugar, cloves, ginger, or cinnamon that aren't safe for dogs.
4. Aids Weight Loss
Beyond its delicious taste, pumpkin is a great food to promote weight loss in your pet. It has fewer calories and high fiber content which helps keep them full. It also allows your dog to lose some excess water in its body.
5. Prevents Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is loss of bladder control which can happen due to many reasons including UTI, weak bladder, hormonal imbalance, urinary stones, etc.
Pumpkin seeds and flesh contain antioxidants and a healthy dose of Omega 3 fatty acids. These help dislodge kidney stones and prevent urinary incontinence in your dog.
6. Helps Treat Parasites
The most common kind of parasites in dogs are tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms. If any of these parasites are present in your dog’s digestive tract, they can cause severe nutritional deficiency.
For centuries, people have used pumpkin as a dewormer. Pumpkin seeds are very effective in treating intestinal worms as they contain an amino acid called cucurbitin. It weakens the intestinal worms keeping your dog healthy and worm-free.
7. Improves Immune Health
70% of the immune system is impacted by a healthy gut and a healthy immune system in dogs is critical in fighting infections and diseases. The antioxidant properties of pumpkin can boost your pet's immune system. They can destroy free radicals or “oxidants” in your pet’s body.
8. Natural Prebiotic for Dogs
Prebiotics are a very essential compounds found in specific foods like pumpkin. These are the indigestible carbohydrates that move through the digestive tract of your dog. It reaches the colon where they get converted into short-chain fatty acids. These acids provide a source of energy for the good bacteria that live in your dog's digestive system. It aids in improving digestion and helps the immune system work better.
How to Use Pumpkin for Dogs
Now that you know how beneficial pumpkin is for your dog’s health, you’ll want to know “how much pumpkin do you give to a dog”
The amount of pumpkin you should feed your dog depends on its size. Small dogs can be fed 1 teaspoon and large dogs can eat 2 to 3 tablespoons of pumpkin per day. It is also recommended to begin with small quantities and increase gradually to avoid adding too much fiber.
If you’re unsure about how to start, below are the 4 most common ways you can feed pumpkin to your dog.
1. Plain Canned Pumpkin
Plain canned pumpkin is a good choice for your dog. It contains a mixture of vitamins, iron fiber, and potassium. You can serve it in various ways like:
- Add it as a food topper to your dog’s current meal.
- Mix it with a little flour and peanut butter to make cookies and serve as treats.
- Mix with a little water and put it into a silicon squeeze tube to feed puppies.
- Mix with chicken broth to make soup for your dog.
- Freeze a small amount in an ice tray to serve as a frozen treat on hot days.
2. Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree
Most pet parents prepare home-cooked meals for their dogs. But it should be noted that canned pumpkin is actually more beneficial as it has more nutrients and fibers whereas fresh pumpkin has higher water content.
But if you still want fresh pumpkin, make sure you cook it well before serving. Just take a small piece of pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Place the pumpkin slices on a baking sheet that's lined with parchment paper. Bake it until the pumpkin flesh is fork-tender. Before removing the skin, let the pumpkin cool. Then cut the baked pumpkin into small pieces, blend, and serve.
3. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a highly nutritious part of the pumpkin. But they should be served more sparingly. Ideally, one pumpkin seed per 10 lbs of body weight per day is considered safe. You can easily shell, clean and roast fresh seeds and then grind them up to feed your dog.
But be wary of buying store-bought pumpkin seeds because they contain additional oils, salt and spices which may create health risks for your dog.
4. Pumpkin Supplements
You can find many pumpkin supplements in the market. These are generally available in powdered form that you can mix with water to get a canned pumpkin puree-like consistency. Most pet owners prefer them while traveling or camping as it’s convenient to carry.
The supplements have a nutrition chart that can provide you with the exact nutritional value of the product. But it’s recommended that you consult a veterinarian before adding a pumpkin supplement to your dog’s diet.
How Not to Feed Your Dog Pumpkin
While pumpkin has numerous benefits for your dog, you need to be cautious about a few things. Firstly make sure you feed your dog the right amount of pumpkin. Too much of anything is harmful.
Pumpkin contains fiber and too much fiber decreases the amount of protein and other nutrients your pet can absorb from their food. It puts them at a risk for deficiencies.
Secondly, if you’re buying canned pumpkins, read the ingredient list. You can only feed plain pumpkin puree to your dog. The puree made for pumpkin pie filling has added fat, sugar, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon. These spices can be toxic for your dog.
Also, avoid sugar-free canned pumpkins as it contains artificial sweeteners and xylitol, a life-threatening toxin for dogs.
Let’s Sum Up: Why Is Pumpkin Good for Your Dogs?
Feeding your dog only dry kibble can fulfill their basic nutritional requirements but enhancing their diet with healthy ingredients such as pumpkin can help them feel their best. That’s why professionals recommend enhancing your dog’s diet with nutrient-rich foods.
Pumpkin is one such superfood and a natural stomach soother for your dogs. It contains essential nutrients and fibers to keep our dogs happy and healthy. Plus, as an added bonus, the taste of pumpkins always makes your dog’s tail wag.
1. Can I feed pumpkin puree to my dog every day?
Yes, you can serve freshly made or plain canned pumpkin puree to your dogs every day. If you have a small pup, serve 1 teaspoon pumpkin and 2-3 teaspoons to big dogs per day.
2. Is pumpkin good for dogs with diarrhea?
Pumpkin contains soluble fiber content that adds bulk to the dog’s stool by absorbing water. It's very helpful in treating diarrhea.
3. Why do vets recommend pumpkins for dogs?
Pumpkin has high nutritional value, it promotes digestive health, and can prevent many diseases and infections. Hence it can be a great supplement to add in your dog’s foods.
4. What kind of pumpkin can dogs eat?
Plain canned pumpkin is one of the healthiest options for your dog. You can also make fresh pumpkin puree and roast some pumpkin seeds.
But while buying canned pumpkins, make sure you get the plain one and not the pumpkin pie filling as that contains added fat, sugar, and spices. These ingredients can be toxic for dogs.
5. Can I serve pumpkin to my dog with a sensitive tummy?
Yes, pumpkin as dog food is easy on the stomach of both puppies and grown dogs.
6. Can I feed my dogs pumpkin seeds?
Yes, you can feed roasted pumpkin seeds to your dog. Make sure you properly shell, clean and roast fresh seeds and then grind them up to feed your dog. And prepare them without any oils and added spices as they can be harmful for your dogs health.