Yes, dogs can eat pumpkin. In fact, pumpkin is a superfood. It is not just safe for dogs – it is also healthy and loaded with unique nutrients while being low in calories. Plus, dogs enjoy the pumpkin flavor and texture.
However, keep in mind that dogs are carnivores and need meat-based protein as the main nutrient. In practical terms, pumpkin is an excellent (healthy and tasty) addition to the otherwise complete and balanced canine diet.
- Why is Pumpkin Good for Dogs?
- Can Pumpkin be Bad for Dogs?
- How Much Pumpkin Can my Dog Eat?
- How to Prepare and Serve Pumpkin for Your Dog?
Why is Pumpkin Good for Dogs?
Pumpkin is an excellent way to add diversity to your dog’s menu and provide some unique and health-boosting nutrients. Plus, the pumpkin is readily available year-round and easy to make. Let’s go through the reasons pumpkin is good for dogs.
With only 50 calories per cup, pumpkin is great for dogs on weight-loss regimens. Plus, the pumpkin will keep the dog satiated for longer, thus promoting a healthy weight.
Natural Constipation Remedy
Because of the high content of dietary fiber, pumpkin can be used to add bulk to the dog’s stool and help with constipation issues. Pumpkin is one of the oldest natural remedies for constipation. Canned pumpkin puree has stronger anti-constipation effects than homemade pumpkin.
As a prebiotic powerhouse, pumpkin can also be used to help dogs with diarrhea. Simply put, the fibers feed the healthy bacteria in the gut, thus aiding digestion and ensuring normal intestinal motility.
Rich in Dietary Fiber
Pumpkin is rich in dietary fibers, which are critical for cardiovascular health. They also help maintain healthy levels of blood sugar and blood cholesterol.
A powerhouse of Vitamins and Minerals
Pumpkin is loaded with different vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C) and minerals (iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium).
Strong Antioxidant Features
Pumpkin contains nutrients with antioxidant features. They are helpful as they protect the cells and tissues from oxidative damage, thus decreasing the risk of some types of cancer.
Cucurbitin kills Parasites
Pumpkin contains an amino acid called cucurbitacin. Reportedly cucurbitin causes damage to the reproductive organs of flatworms (also known as flukes). Flatworms are common parasites in dogs.
Supports Urinary Health
Pumpkin seeds are rich in omega fatty acids, which are vital for urinary health. In fact, according to anecdotal reports, pumpkin seeds can be helpful for dogs with urinary incontinence.
Can Pumpkin be Bad for Dogs?
Yes, pumpkin can be bad for dogs. Used inappropriately – in large amounts and as a part of recipes that are not dog-friendly, pumpkin can be harmful to dogs.
Also, if using store-bought pumpkin purees, you risk wreaking havoc on your dog’s sensitive stomach because of the added ingredients. Let’s review the reasons and situations in which pumpkin can be bad for dogs.
As mentioned, dietary fibers are healthy for dogs. However, if present in excess amounts, they can impair the metabolism of other nutrients (for example, proteins), leading to nutritional deficiencies.
Canned pumpkin pie fillings are often enriched with artificial sweeteners. The most commonly used artificial sweetener, xylitol, is toxic to dogs and causes a potentially life-threatening blood sugar drop.
High in Sodium
Some canned versions feature added salt. In some pumpkin purees, the sodium content can be as high as 600 milligrams per cup. This concentration is way too much for dogs, especially if they suffer from kidney disease.
Instead of salt, sweet pumpkin puree options are often spiced up with nutmeg and cinnamon. Both cinnamon and nutmeg are potentially dangerous for dogs and, in the amounts used, can trigger severe digestive upsets.
How Much Pumpkin Can my Dog Eat?
The recommended treatment doses of pumpkin for dogs are between one and four tablespoons. Obviously, the lower ends of the specter are reserved for smaller pups and higher for larger dogs. When using the pumpkin as a regular addition, stick to half of the recommended therapeutic dose.
You can give your dog pumpkin up to several times per week as long as it is regular and the excess fibers are not causing any digestive issues.
However, when introducing pumpkin for the first time, start small and gradually work your way up. Pumpkin is one of the few human foods that are safe for puppies.
How to Prepare and Serve Pumpkin for Your Dog?
It all starts with shopping – at the supermarket or farmer’s market. Whenever possible, it is advisable to shop organic. Once you have the pumpkin at home, you should remove the stem, leaves, and grind. The seeds are safe for dogs if baked plain.
With the flesh separated from the inedible parts, you have two options – boil the pumpkin or bake it in the oven. In both cases, the preparation method must not include salt, sugar, or other spices.
Alternatively, you can get canned pumpkin puree from the store and skip the preparation part. However, make sure you get an unsweetened and spice-free version. Canned pumpkin puree options labeled as pie filling are heavily seasoned and must be avoided.
Finally, you can serve the pumpkin chopped into pieces or poured in the dog’s food bowl. If you want to get creative, you can also mix it with other ingredients and make complete meals or prepare treats in the form of dog-friendly pumpkin cookies.
Bottom line, pumpkin is a dog-friendly food. You can prepare pumpkin at home or use canned pumpkin puree made with safe ingredients. Either way, by adding pumpkin to the dog’s menu, you will be boosting its health.
However, do not forget that dogs need complete and balanced meals. Therefore, pumpkin is a healthy addition; you just need to make sure it does not comprise more than 10% of the dog’s daily food intake.
- Flatworm Parasite in Dogs, Wag Labs, 2018
- Urinary Incontinence in Dogs, Fetch by WebMD, 2020
- Can Dogs Eat Nutmeg?, Stacy Painter, 2019
- Nutmeg and Cinnamon Toxicity, Charlotte Flint and Catherine Angle, 2021
- 3 Easy Pumpkin Recipes for Dogs, AKC Staff, 2021
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