Can I Give My Dog Pumpkin?

Pumpkin is a superfood for dogs. It contains essential micronutrients and fiber that make it a very nutritious treat. Besides being a natural stomach soother, pumpkin also helps to remove excess water in a dog's digestive tract.  

Pet owners have relied on pumpkin for a long time to reduce instances of diarrhea in their dogs. This means it’s good to know how to prepare and serve pumpkin to your pet.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a delicious addition to a human diet, but it also has a number of health benefits for your dog.

Mineral and vitamin-packed. Pumpkin contains vitamins like A, C, and E, as well as minerals like iron and potassium. Feeding plain canned pumpkin gives a great boost to your dog’s nutrition.

Great for digestion. Due to its high soluble fiber content, pumpkin is very good for your dog’s digestion. If you feed your dog some pumpkin, it will add bulk to their stool. This helps reduce issues with diarrhea.  

In addition, fermentation of the same fiber produces beneficial fatty acids that supply energy to cells. Pumpkin also aids in lowering the acidity level of your dog’s large intestines.

Prebiotic powerhouse. Prebiotics are essential compounds found in specific foods. Among them are pumpkin and butternut squash. Prebiotics support the presence of important bacteria in the digestive tract. Feeding dogs prebiotic foods is a great way to strengthen their digestive health.

Harmful Effects of Giving Pumpkin to Dogs

While pumpkin may be a great choice to add to your dog’s diet, it’s important to remember that you can have too much of a good thing. Too much pumpkin in your dog’s diet can cause some harmful effects.

Nutrient deficiencies. While some people add pumpkin to their dog’s diet to boost fiber intake, too much fiber can be dangerous. Adding a lot of fiber from pumpkin or other fiber-rich foods may decrease how much protein and other nutrients your pet can absorb from their food, putting them at risk for deficiencies.

High in calories. Pumpkin is a starchy vegetable that is high in calories in addition to fiber. Having any one food make up more than 10% of your dog’s total calorie intake is not good.  

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Potentially high in sodium. It is important to always check canned pumpkin before buying it for your dog. Some canned pumpkin brands with salt can have nearly 600 milligrams of sodium per cup, which is too much sodium for a dog with heart or kidney disease.

May contain dangerous additions. It is essential that you differentiate between pumpkin pie filling and canned pumpkin. Pumpkin pie filling has added fat, sugar, and spices like cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Some of these spices can be toxic to your dog. Plain canned pumpkin consists of pumpkin flesh, which is generally safe for your dog.

How Much Pumpkin Should I Give My Dog?

Add one to four pumpkin tablespoons per meal to your dog’s diet. Always start with small quantities to avoid adding too much fiber. If you have doubts about the amount of pumpkin to add to your dog's diet, always consult your veterinarian.

How to Prepare Pumpkin For Your Dog

The following are the best ways to prepare and serve pumpkin for dogs:

Canned pumpkin. Plain canned pumpkin is easy to feed your dog as you don't need to cook it. Ensure it doesn’t have additives, and serve it directly.

Freshly baked pumpkin. To prepare fresh pumpkin, remove the seeds and bake it in your oven until it is soft.

 Crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds. You may also add pumpkin seeds to your dog’s diet as a crunchy treat. Clean and roast fresh seeds for one hour at 350 degrees. Let them cool, and then grind them up into your dog’s food. You may also feed them whole, but be sure to consider the size of your dog — very small dogs or puppies may not handle them well.‌ 

Cool pumpkin purée. Peel a whole pumpkin and remove the seeds, then slice it into chunks. Simmer the flesh in boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes or until it’s tender. Drain and mash it into a smooth paste. Pumpkin purée will keep for three to four days in the fridge and six months in the freezer. Make sure to defrost it completely when adding to another recipe.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Vanessa Farner, DVM on March 11, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

American Kennel Club: “Can Pumpkin Help With Dog Diarrhea?”

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People: “Pumpkin purée dog treat recipe.”

Tufts University: “People like giving pets pumpkin, but is it good for them?”

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