While your dogs are likely to love the taste of pumpkin, most owners avoid feeding it to their furry friends because they are afraid of the effects it might have.
Dogs are not at risk for the same serious health problems that people are—but that doesn’t mean you should feed them a diet of nothing but pumpkin.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Pumpkin?
The crisp fall air has arrived and the fall festivities have begun. While all things pumpkin related may be taking over our lives this season, there are so many fun ways to welcome fall in.
Carving pumpkins is a timeless fall tradition for everyone of all ages, even your dog! Raw pumpkin is safe for your dog to eat so feel free to give them a few seeds or some pumpkin flesh while you're carving this year.
Or Plan on baking pumpkin pie this season? Share some canned pumpkin with your dog, while benefiting their health.
Dogs will eat almost anything, so a pumpkin isn’t out of the question, particularly since tiny pumpkins and gourds may resemble a toy or ball.
“The stem and leaves are covered with prickly hairs that could hurt your pets, and raw pumpkin isn’t particularly digestible for them,” says Dr. Becker.
So, although your dog could eat a whole, raw pumpkin, it’s not recommended.
Canned pumpkin, however, is another story. According to Dr. Lobos, “Canned pumpkin (NOT canned pumpkin pie mix, which contains sugar and spices) is a fabulous source of fiber and can even help with digestive upset.
It’s also low in calories and could help with weight loss if substituted for a portion of their daily kibble. It’s also a great source of potassium, Vitamin A, iron and beta carotene.”
Pumpkin seeds can make a healthy and tasty treat, too, as they contain nutrients such as antioxidants, which play a role in overall health.
Talk to your veterinarian before making any substitutions to ensure your dog is still eating a 100% nutritionally complete diet.
Dogs can eat pumpkin, but not all in all forms. For example, it’s best to avoid raw pumpkin, pumpkin skin and the stem, as they’re hard for your pup to digest.
Canned and roasted pumpkin, however, are fine as long as there aren’t added ingredients or spices, Dr. Bowens says.
(Recipes for roasting pumpkin below.) In fact, the easiest way to serve up pumpkin is straight from the can. To know if it’s safe for your dog, look at the ingredients list. It should say “Certified Organic Pumpkin,” or just “Pumpkin.”
(Like Farmer’s Market Foods Canned Organic Pumpkin or Whole Foods 365.) If there are other fillers in the ingredient list, don’t serve it to your pup.
No, dogs should not eat raw pumpkin, and there are a few reasons for this. Raw pumpkin isn’t toxic, but it is difficult for your dog to digest if they were to eat a large amount.
Pumpkin is recommended to help with digestive issues, but if you were to feed raw pumpkin, it could have the opposite effect.
Pumpkin should be cooked before feeding to your dog. Don’t allow them to chew on the pumpkin stem or let them eat pumpkin seeds.
The stem is too difficult for your dog to digest and can cause digestive issues. Pumpkin seeds aren’t toxic to dogs, but they pose a choking hazard because they are difficult for your dog to chew adequately.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Raw Pumpkin
Your dog isn’t going to become sick from eating the flesh of the raw pumpkin.
However, it’s not recommended to let them eat a whole pumpkin, including the rind and stem. This is too much fiber at one time and poses a risk for abdominal discomfort or possibly an intestinal blockage. Symptoms that can occur after eating a large amount of raw pumpkin
- Abdominal distention
If signs of discomfort continue, consult your veterinarian. Signs of an intestinal blockage
- Continued vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Hunching the body
- Whining and obvious discomfort
If your dog shows signs of a bowel blockage, you need to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent an intestinal rupture that can lead to death.
When Is It Okay To Feed Pumpkin for My Dog?
Pumpkin offers many health benefits, and some veterinarians recommend pumpkin for treating diarrhea. Typically, though, it is cooked pumpkin that they suggest.
Also, when you add spices and flavors to the pumpkin, it makes it difficult for your dog to digest, especially those who have sensitive stomachs already.
Pumpkin pie and other pumpkin desserts aren’t okay to feed to your dog. Stick with simple and natural pumpkin because it has plenty of sweetness and flavor.
You can grow your own pumpkin or feed it from a can; just make sure your dog can tolerate the addition of pumpkin to their diet.
It’s also a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before feeding your dog pumpkin so you can figure out the correct amount to provide.
You may even notice that pumpkin is an ingredient in many dog foods because of the nutritional benefits it provides.
Is Pumpkin Healthy Or Beneficial For Dogs?
Says Dr. Bowen: “Pumpkin is definitely healthy for dogs as part of a well-balanced diet. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, lycopene and dietary fiber.”
The meaty part of the pumpkin adds hydration—great for pets who don’t drink lots of water throughout the day, and the seeds are antioxidant and omega-3 fatty acid-rich. This is beneficial for eye health, skin and coat, digestion and organ health.
Pumpkin also contains heaps of potassium, which, according to Chewy, is necessary for regulating blood pressure, improving muscle health and assisting your dog’s metabolism.
Food therapy and holistic veterinarian expert, Judy Morgan, DVM, from Clayton Veterinary Associates, also says because of pumpkin’s soluble and insoluble fiber, it’s a natural remedy for both constipation and diarrhea in dogs.
Digestive Health Benefits
An interesting fact about pumpkin is that it can cure constipation and diarrhea in dogs. The high source of fiber in pumpkin helps dogs pass a bowel movement easier.
Pumpkin is also considered to have high amounts of moisture and can add extra water to your dog's diet. Pumpkin a highly recommended option for weight loss due to the high fiber and moisture it contains.
Improved Eye Health
Pumpkin contains a generous amount of vitamin A, which is a necessity for healthy eyes. Pumpkins get their bright orange color from beta carotene.
This is converted into vitamin A, which will support your dog's eye health. As dogs get older they may suffer from night blindness or eye degeneration issues.
The vitamin A found in pumpkin is fat-soluble which increases the eye health benefits.
Immune System Benefits
Vitamin C is naturally found in pumpkins and is popular for supporting the immune system.
This vitamin works together with vitamin E and A to prevent cancers, while antioxidants get rid of free radicals lurking in your pet's body.
Giving your dog pumpkin can boost and support their immune system greatly.
Ways to Feed Your Dog Pumpkin
Both raw and cooked pumpkin is safe for your dog to eat. There are many different ways to feed pumpkin to your dog including:
- Pumpkin Treats
- Plain Canned Pumpkin
- Cooked Pumpkin
- Pumpkin Seeds or Flesh
Dogs love the taste of pumpkin, which is why there are many different ways to serve it. Pumpkin treats seem to be the favorite choice and the easiest choice.
You can find plain pumpkin treats or pumpkin treats with added flavors. Either way, dogs will go crazy for pumpkin! If you decide to give your dog a spoonful of canned pumpkin, make sure it is plain and doesn’t have any harmful sugar added.
Dogs love cooked pumpkin and it’s relatively easy to prepare. Cubed cooked pumpkin is a great treat to give, or try pureeing the pumpkin for your dog.
If you’re pumpkin carving, here's a great way to put the seeds to good use. Simply dry roast the seeds and let your dog enjoy. Be sure not to add any salt or oil to them!
If your dog LOVES Pumpkin they can enjoy it year round in these wonderful treats! Below are a few of our treats containing pumpkin, PLUS a couple other great pumpkin treats from a few friends of ours.
Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs
1. Pumpkin is Nutrient-Rich
If you look at the nutritional information for one cup of cooked pumpkin (USDA Nutritional Database), you can see that pumpkin is low in calories, but rich in a host of essential vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin, the orange beauty that it is, contains a high concentration of vitamin A (beta-carotene).
It also contains a lot of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure, improves muscle health, and assists in metabolism. It also contains smaller amounts of a variety of healthy nutrients, including Vitamin C, Iron, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Folate, to name a few.
2. Pumpkin Benefits Eyes
Vitamin A is essential for your eye health, and it’s no different when it comes to your dog. Vitamin A promotes eye health and the development of night blindness and other eye degeneration.
Since Vitamin A is fat-soluble, feeding your dog pumpkin with a little healthy oil will make the nutrients pack more punch. Mix your pup’s pumpkin on top of his regular food, or mix in a little flax oil for a healthy, satisfying treat.
3. Pumpkins Boost Immune Health
Vitamin C is integral for immune health all-around. When combined with vitamin A (beta-carotene), E and other antioxidants in pumpkin, it can possibly help prevent certain cancers from developing.
Antioxidants help destroy free radicals, or “oxidants” in your pet’s system, like yours. While oxidants are a natural part of everyone’s immune system, too many oxidants can contribute to cancers and damage the body.
Boost your pet’s immune system by including fresh sources of antioxidants, such as those found in pumpkin.
4. Pumpkins Moisturize Skin & Coat
A number of nutrients in pumpkin, including vitamin A and zinc, improve your pet’s skin and coat. The high water content in pumpkin flesh also contributes to supple skin and a lustrous coat. In addition to making your pet’s coat shine and look fantastic, the added moisture causes the skin to flake less and less hair to be shed on your carpets, furniture, and clothes.
5. Pumpkin Seeds Prevent Urinary Incontinence
Don’t just look to the pumpkin flesh for your pet’s health – give him a taste of the seeds, too! Pumpkin seeds and flesh contain antioxidants and the seeds in particular contain a healthy dose of Omega 3 fatty acids.
These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help dislodge kidney stones. In addition, pumpkin seed powder is known to prevent urinary incontinence, which is the reduced ability to hold in urine.
6. Pumpkins Encourage Digestive Regularity
A sign of your dog’s good health is whether he is pooping normally. Hard stools or those that are difficult to pass put strain on your dog’s intestines.
Adding a little pumpkin to your dog’s diet supplies the necessary fibre to enable your dog to pass stool easily and cure constipation.
Though it may defy understanding, pumpkins have the unique ability to cure both constipation and diarrhea in your dog. If your pet’s stool is a little loose, a little pumpkin can add bulk and form to your dog’s poop.
7. Pumpkin Can Help Naturally Control Parasites
Parasites, such as tapeworms, can wreak havoc with your dog’s digestive system and cause unpleasant symptoms including weight loss, nutrient deficiency, dry skin, and a shabby coat.
Pumpkin has high amounts of an amino acid cucurbitacin, which is actually toxic to many common dog parasites and has been used to expel worms in ruminating animals.
Grinding up a teaspoon or two of pumpkin seeds and mixing into canned food (or a little canned pumpkin!) is a good preventative measure, but don’t skip out on your pet’s usual treatment.
8. Pumpkins Aid in Weight Loss
Pumpkins have a high moisture and fibre content, which makes them a powerful tool for your pet’s weight loss.
Replacing a little of your dog’s regular food with canned pumpkin (a few teaspoons for a small dog up to half a cup with a large dog) can help your dog lose some excess weight.
The fibre and water in the pumpkin will keep them full, so they don’t miss the extra calories.
9. Pumpkin Hydrates
Many dogs fed a kibble only diet suffer from a mild, but chronic dehydration. Dry dog food has a very low moisture content and dogs do not possess a very strong thirst drive.
This means that getting extra moisture into your dog through drinking can be difficult. But the high moisture content of pumpkin adds more water to your dog’s diet easily and naturally.
10. Pumpkin Tastes Great
Like many people, dogs relish the rich, creamy flavour of pumpkin. And anyone who has tried to feed a dog something healthy that does not taste as good will appreciate this benefit thoroughly.
Most dogs willingly lap up even plain cooked pumpkin. But go ahead and add a pinch of cinnamon or honey for an extra tasty treat.
Can dogs eat raw pumpkin? While it's fine to feed your dog cooked pumpkin, you should never give him the raw stuff, since it could have some serious consequences. There are a number of foods that are perfectly safe for dogs to eat in moderation, but pumpkin is not one of them. (And don't worry, we'll tell you why shortly.) So, read on to find out why your dog should never eat pumpkin, and learn about the signs to look for if you think he has accidentally consumed some.
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