It’s almost Fall, y’all! A visit to Starbucks, a walk through any home goods or home improvement store, or a scroll through Instagram blogger accounts and you’ll probably spot some pumpkins already. This popular squash is an autumn staple! While we may love indulging in festive flavored goodies, can dogs eat pumpkin?
Short answer: Yes, when served correctly, pumpkin is extremely healthy for dogs!
Pumpkins for Dogs
While I’ll dive deeper into this topic in the Feeding Tips section below, it’s important to note: While pumpkins are considered a healthy food for dogs, that doesn’t mean they can eat all pumpkin dishes. No licks of your pumpkin spice latte or bites of your delicious pumpkin pie. The sugar, nutmeg, and cloves in many pumpkin pie-flavored dishes aren’t good for dogs.
When it comes to feeding this orange fruit (yup, pumpkin technically isn’t a vegetable) to dogs, we usually opt for cooked and pureed pumpkin (either homecooked or canned store bought). So, as you read this Food Facts Feature, that’s what we’ll focus on!
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams of plain canned pumpkin contains:
- Water – 90 g
- Calories – 34
- Protein – 1.1 g
- Total fat – 0.28 g
- Carbohydrates – 8.09 g
- Fiber – 2.9 g
- Sugar – 3.3 g
- Calcium – 26 mg
- Iron – 1.39
- Magnesium – 23 mg
- Phosphorus – 35 mg
- Potassium – 206 mg
- Sodium – 5mg
- Zinc – 0.17 mg
- Copper – 0.107 mg
- Manganese – 0.149 mg
- Folate – 12 µg
- Beta Carotene – 6940 µg
- Vitamin A – 778 µg
- Vitamin B-6 – 0.056 mg
- Vitamin C – 4.2 mg
- Vitamin E – 1.06 mg
- Vitamin K – 16 µg
In summary, pumpkin is also an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E. Plus, it’s high in beta carotene, potassium, and fiber!
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
- Natural Diarrhea Remedy – When pet parents talk about pumpkin, they usually bring up its digestive benefits. If your dog has diarrhea, ask your veterinarian about pumpkin. Soluble fiber helps slow digestion, increase food absorption, and add bulk to stool. For relief, experts recommend adding 1-4 tablespoons of pumpkin to your dog’s food bowl. Of course, it’s always a good idea to start with a smaller amount and see how your dog handles the new food.
- Natural Constipation Relief – I know what you’re thinking: If pumpkin can help bulk my pup’s stool, wouldn’t it just make constipation worse? But, that’s not the case. Pumpkin also contains insoluble fiber, which helps draw water into the GI tract and lubricate dry stool. This ultimately helps your pup pass stool. Another benefit? Pumpkin offers a high water content. Experts recommend the same dosing as mentioned above, 1-4 tablespoons.
Please note: Pumpkin is not a long-term cure to digestive issues. Work with your veterinarian to get to the root of any tummy issues.
- Aids Weight Management – Is your pooch considered overweight or obese? According to The Association For Pet Obesity Prevention, as of 2018, approximately 56% of dogs in the United States fell into that category. If your pup is packing on the pounds, try adding a little dollop of pumpkin to his food. While pumpkin is low-calorie and low-fat, the fiber and few grams of protein are said to keep your dog’s belly feeling full for a longer period. That means he’s less likely to graze on food throughout the day.
- Promotes Eye Health – Pumpkin is loaded with Beta Carotene, which the liver converts to Vitamin A.
- Benefits Bone Health – The bones are sure to benefit from pumpkin too! Vitamin A, Calcium, and Vitamin K in pumpkin help contribute to building strong bones.
- Natural Dewormer – While the pits and seeds found in most fruits are a major no-no for your dog because they contain levels of cyanide, that’s not the case with raw, organic pumpkin seeds. According to DogsNaturally, feeding your dog pumpkin seeds can help prevent or expel worms and parasites. You can either give them whole as a treat or grind them up and place them in his dish. It’s recommended to give one teaspoon per ten pounds.
Cooked and pureed pumpkin is easy for our dogs to eat, digest, and absorb. You can either make pumpkin puree (by cooking and then blending it up) or you can buy a can at the store. Just make sure the can says 100% Pure on it, as pumpkin puree pie filling contains ingredients that aren’t good for dogs.
While raw pumpkin is technically safe for dogs, it’s much harder for them to digest. So, it’s best to cook and puree first!
If you have whole pumpkins, note the outer areas, stems, and leaves are never meant for consumption. If your dog does eat these parts, call your veterinarian immediately as they can pose a choking hazard and life-threatening intestinal blockage risk.
As with any food, moderation is key – too much of a good thing isn’t healthy! Pumpkins are loaded with vitamin A. While this is a beneficial nutrient for our dogs, too much vitamin A is toxic. Additionally, too much fiber can cause tummy upset. Be sure to stick with no more than 1-2 teaspoons for puppies, and no more than 1-4 tablespoons for adult dogs.
As I mentioned above, typically, fruit pits and seeds are harmful to dogs and should be kept far away from their mouths. However, that’s not the case with raw, organic pumpkin seeds!
Pumpkin seeds are not only safe for our dogs, but they’re also healthy! They’re rich in beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants, along with other key nutrients that promote overall health. You can either give them whole as a treat or grind them up and place them in his dish. It’s recommended to give one teaspoon per ten pounds.
Pumpkin Dog Treat Recipes
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This feature is part of a weekly web series called Food Facts Friday. Every Friday, we share foods that are great for our canine companions. Check out other foods highlighted in this series HERE!