Historically, pumpkin has been used across all cultures as a natural medicinal treatment for its anti-inflammatory effects, as well as aiding in everything from urinary incontinence to kidney stone passage. Its a superfood for not only humans but also for dogs!
NUTRIENT DENSE FOOD
From the orange flesh to the white seeds, pumpkin is loaded with essential vitamins and nutrients. It is a great source of amino acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber. Being mostly made of water, pumpkin also offers added hydration which helps keep your dog free from dry skin and excess shedding.
Pumpkin is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber — great news for the digestive tract!
If your dog is experiencing an upset tummy — or worse, diarrhea — feeding them pumpkin can help firm up their stool. The soluble fiber in pumpkin absorbs excess water while also acting as a prebiotic. Prebiotics promote activity of healthy gut bacteria in the intestines. It is best to first determine the cause of loose stool, but adding pumpkin will help to mitigate mild symptoms and make your dog more comfortable.
Pumpkin also can help with constipation. Again, it is best to first find the cause of the constipation and immediately seek veterinarian help if you think the cause is due to extreme blockage (swallowed toys, clothing, bones, etc.). For mild cases of constipation, feeding pumpkin can help get the stool moving again by providing extra hydration.
When it comes to eye health, vitamin A is just as essential for your dog as it is for you. Vitamin A helps with low light vision, maintain a clear cornea, and has been suggested to a reduce the risk of degeneration.
Pumpkin is low in calories and high in dietary fiber, making it ideal for shedding weight. A portion of your dog’s normal food can be replaced by canned pumpkin (no more than 1/4 of the meal). The dietary fiber and water content in a pumpkin promotes the feeling of being full and satisfied.
A study published in 2015 supports the use of pumpkin seed as a treatment for parasite infections. The seeds contain cucurbitacin, a class of biochemical compound, which inhibit and help to expel parasites.*
*Please note, it is not recommended to solely rely on pumpkin seeds as a preventative.
WHAT KIND OF PUMPKIN CAN I FEED MY DOG
To get the biggest bang for your buck so to speak, it’s easiest to feed them canned pumpkin. Be careful NOT to feed them pumpkin pie filling, which is packed with sugars and preservatives — all of which have negative impacts on your dog’s health.
Raw pumpkin and unsalted pumpkin seeds are also acceptable to feed your dog. The pumpkin flesh will provide a chew while also hydrating them. Use supervision, especially when feeding the seeds, if your dog tends to inhale food as it can pose a choking hazard. Take care not to let your dog eat the leaves or stem of the pumpkin, both of which are difficult to digest and may result in intestinal blockage.
HOW MUCH PUMPKIN CAN THEY EAT
It is important to slowly introduce any new dietary addition. This allows your dog’s body to adjust and for you to see how they react to the new food. Start with 1-2 tablespoons and gradually increase to a desired serving size. For use as a general supplement, 1 tablespoon per day should be sufficient. Pumpkin seeds can be fed as a whole treat or ground up to add into meals.
As with most things in life, too much is never a good thing. There are no studies supporting large consumption of pumpkin to be harmful, but its still best to use in moderation.
Have you ever fed your dog pumpkin? How did you start sneaking it into their diet? Tell us in the comments!
Kato & Ellie are rescue dogs born in Florida before moving 3000 miles cross-country with my partner and I. Washington State is our home! Our days are fueled by lattes, the weekends packed with outdoor adventure, and the in-between filled with city exploration.