Each year when autumn is fast approaching, one can’t help but get excited for the festivities, and the fruits and vegetables that are in season.
And when it comes to foods, pumpkin is without a doubt a staple ingredient to many meals and treats this time of the year. And for new dog owners, it is a common question to ask, “Can dogs eat pumpkin?”
Pumpkin can be considered a superfood for us, humans, because of its nutritional benefits, but can it also be the same for dogs?
Can a dog’s body process and utilize the nutrients from this healthy human food? Is pumpkin good for dogs? What about canned pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin seeds?
Find out the answers to these questions and more below.
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin?
Yes, you can feed pumpkin flesh and pumpkin seeds to your dog. And the good news is that most dogs enjoy the taste of plain pumpkin, too.
So, you won’t have a difficult time feeding pumpkin dishes to your furry baby. You can buy a fresh pumpkin for your dog from the farmer’s market, and serve it raw or cooked to your pup.
However, while dogs can eat raw pumpkin, it’s better to serve it cooked or steamed.
Serving a cooked pumpkin can make it easier for your dog to digest and absorb the nutrients of this healthy food, and you can spare him from the discomfort of an upset tummy due to indigestion.
Moreover, unlike other fruits and vegetables, you can safely give your dog pumpkin seeds. And there are fun ways to do it, such as by feeding pumpkin seeds as snacks, treats, or as toppers.
You can also ground the seeds and add the powder to your dog’s meals.
Benefits of Pumpkin to Your Dog’s Health
If you are still thinking of adding pumpkin to your pet’s diet or not, the following health benefits might convince you to drop your hesitations and just do it – add pumpkin to your dog’s food.
Rich in Nutrients
We are all aware that pumpkin is good for us, humans, but what some of us, pet parents, might not know is that pumpkin is good for our dogs, too.
The pumpkin flesh is low in calories, low in sodium, yet exceptionally high in antioxidant beta carotene, which can help fight free radicals and boost your dog’s immune system.
Pumpkin is also packed with other important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and folate to name a few.
These essential vitamins and minerals help support your dog’s heart health, eye health, bone and joint mobility, skin and coat health, cognitive functions, and overall health.
Promotes Healthy Digestion
With its blend of soluble and insoluble fiber content, pumpkin is an excellent remedy for both diarrhea and constipation. The extra fiber in pumpkins also feeds the good bacteria inside the gut, which then helps with intestinal health.
So, when your dog is having trouble defecating or experiencing episodes of watery stools, it can help to add pumpkin to his diet. For smaller dogs, you can start with a few teaspoons daily, and for larger dogs, you can begin with one to two tablespoons per day.
Pumpkin helps with diarrhea by absorbing the excess moisture in your dog’s gut, thereby, adding bulk to his stool. In contrast, pumpkins help with constipation by adding the needed extra fiber and water that can help facilitate the passage of stool.
If your dog doesn’t have constipation or diarrhea, you can still add pumpkin to his regular food, or give him pumpkin treats as rewards or as snacks to promote regular bowel movements.
Supports Urinary Health
Pumpkin flesh and pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants, and the seeds, in particular, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help with urinary health. These fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help dislodge kidney stones.
Additionally, ground pumpkin seed or pumpkin seed powder can help prevent urinary incontinence, a condition wherein a dog’s ability to hold urine is greatly reduced.
This can cause your dog to urinate anywhere and anytime because it is already beyond his control.
Can Help Promote Weight Loss
Pumpkin is rich in moisture and fiber content, and these two features can help keep them full without adding calories to their diet.
Hence, they won’t feel the need to eat every now and then, and their body won’t have to handle the excess calories, which will only end up as stored fats.
Can Serve as a Natural Remedy for Parasites
Deworming your dog regularly is crucial for his overall health, but if you need extra help aside from his usual treatment, you can rely on a pumpkin.
This nutritious food also contains an amino acid called cucurbitacin, which has been proven to paralyze and eliminate parasites inside your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.
How Much Pumpkin Can You Feed Your Dog?
While pumpkin is healthy food for your dog, too much of it in his diet is also synonymous with too much fiber.
And this can affect the amount of protein, and other essential nutrients your dog can absorb because his body is consumed in processing the high fiber content in his diet.
Also, as mentioned earlier, fiber can bulk up your dog’s tummy, so if he eats too much fiber, he won’t have enough appetite to eat his regular food, which can put him at risk for nutritional deficiencies.
As a general rule, it’s safe to start with 1 teaspoon of plain canned pumpkin for every 10 pounds of body weight.
If your dog has diabetes or other health concerns, it’s best to speak with your veterinarian first regarding the appropriate amount before adding pumpkin to your dog’s food.
Additionally, when it comes to treats, the general rule is that they should only account for 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
For puppies, small dogs, and underweight dogs, pumpkin can be a nice treat for them in small amounts and not as part of their regular food.
How to Add Pumpkin to Your Dog’s Diet?
When feeding a pumpkin to your dog, it’s best to cook it first to facilitate digestion. And there are also several canned pumpkin products, as well as pumpkin treats and supplements that you can purchase at your nearest grocery store.
Also, plain canned pumpkin is good for your dog, but don’t give him canned pumpkin pie filling, canned pumpkin pie mix, or any canned pumpkin that contains artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, spices, and other potentially toxic ingredients.
And if it’s your first time adding pumpkin to your dog’s diet, you should start slowly or introduce it as you would with any new food to avoid untoward reactions such as an upset tummy.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Pumpkin?
Yes, dogs can eat raw pumpkins. However, it might be harder for them to digest, so, it’s not recommended.
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
What happens if your dog eats pumpkin seeds? Well, as mentioned earlier, pumpkin seeds are safe for dogs to eat. So, you don’t have to worry if you saw him enjoying some for the first time.
Pumpkin seeds contain fatty acids, which help prevent urinary incontinence, and they are also packed with antioxidants that are good for your dog’s immune health.
However, pumpkin seeds are also high in fat, so you should feed them to your dog sparingly. A safe amount would be one ground-up seed for every ten pounds of body weight per day.
Your dog can eat them raw, but they will also appreciate it if you roast them. Also, more importantly, avoid adding salt and other seasonings that can be harmful to your dog.
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