It’s a fruit! No, it’s a vegetable! It’s a… pumpkin and, believe it or not, it is good to feed to your dog. Although most people think of pumpkins as vegetables, they are really a fruit born from vine plants of the genus Cucurbita, part of the gourd family. Pumpkins are rich in carotenoids, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, fiber, zinc, iron, vitamin A and potassium. In fact, you can tell the pumpkin is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, just by looking at its bright orange color.
Why Pumpkin Is Great For Dogs
While there are no scientific benefits that pumpkin is helpful for pets skin or coats, like other fruits, veggies, or even coconut oil, pumpkin is excellent for your dog’s digestive track.
Pumpkin For Dog Diarrhea And Constipation
Pumpkin has high fiber and water content, which are good for correcting and preventing constipation in dogs, plus can help bulk up your dog’s stool. Start with feeding your dog 1 or 2 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin a day, depending on your dog’s size. Pumpkin may not help your dog with diarrhea or constipation if there is an underlying medical condition. Call your veterinarian for advice if the diarrhea or constipation persists.
Helping Your Dog Lose Weight With Pumpkin
Some dogs needs to lose weight, but their owners don’t want them to feel hungry. Pumpkin is a great low-fat dog treat that fills a dog up due to its being high in fiber. The proper amount of pumpkin to feed depends on the size of your dog and dietary needs. Consult your veterinarian for suggested amounts.
How To Feed Your Dog Pumpkin
Pumpkin is really simple to feed to your dog too. All you need is canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is just as packed with nutrients as fresh pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is a puree so it is easy to mix with dog food, give it to your dog as a treat or use it as an ingredient when you make dog treats, such as these Pumpkin Paw Prints.
Note: When buying canned pumpkin, check and double check the label to make sure you are getting 100-percent pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix. You can also use fresh pumpkin, but it is important to cook it first. Serve your dog the insides of a fresh roasted or pureed pumpkin.
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Yes, but most recommend that you first roast them and then grind them up. Do not add salt.
What About Dog Foods And Treats With Pumpkin?
With the pumpkin craze taking over the human world, it’s only natural to see it popping up in stores too. There are many dog foods and treats that feature pumpkins. But while these foods are fun and help us feel like out pet is sharing in the fun of the season, they typically do not have enough pumpkin in them to offer the health and stomach benefits mentioned above. That being said they are still can be healthy and tasty treats! So if you are enjoying your pumpkin latte, pumpkin bread (and pumpkin just-about-everything-else) and don’t want your dog to feel left out, definitely add some pumpkin dog treats to your pantry!
Halloween Pumpkin Safety For Dogs
Aside from general health, the question of pumpkin safety for dogs most commonly comes up during the Halloween and fall season when pumpkins are everywhere. While feeding your dog canned or cooked pumpkin is great, there is a big difference between cooked and pureed “food-friendly” pumpkin, and decorative, raw pumpkins or Jack-o-Lanterns which are often seen during the Halloween and fall season. Make sure your are keeping these safety tips in mind when pumpkin season arrives!
- Make sure never to feed/allow your dog to eat the stem or leaves of a pumpkin, which are covered in little, sharp hairs that will irritate your dog.
- Dogs should never eat the shell of a pumpkin or gourd, but during the fall season, many decorative pumpkins and gourds are coated with materials, such as glue, glitter or shellac that can be toxic to your pet.
- Dogs should not eat raw pumpkin seeds or the innards of a raw pumpkins. Keep your pumpkin carving clear of the floor to prevent dogs from picking up the extras.
- Once Halloween is over, ditch the carved pumpkins. They can become dangerous as they may deteriorate and grow mold over time.
- Re-think placing candles in Jack-O-Lanterns. Pets can easily knock them over and start a fire. There are many great battery-operated alternatives to light up your pumpkin that last longer and are safer for everyone!
By: Melissa Kauffman edited by Samantha Meyers
Featured Image: saje/iStock/Thinkstock