Updated - Apr 4th, 2023
If you’re wondering, “Is pumpkin good for dogs?” You’re in the right place.
Pumpkins, those cheery, orange harbingers of fall, are not just great for carving jack-o’-lanterns. They might also be that very important vegetable your dog needs to stay healthy and happy. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and other goodness that can do wonders for your canine companions.
However, there are some caveats to giving pumpkins or even pumpkin spice to your pooch, so be careful.
Read on to find out more. And, of course, if you have questions or doubts, talk to your veterinarian. All dogs are different, and your specific pet’s needs and sensitivities may vary.
What are the health benefits of pumpkin for dogs?
- Adding pumpkin to your dog’s diet is a great way to regulate a dog’s digestive system and relieve diarrhea and constipation. For instance, if your canine feels constipated from eating many tasty treats, adding pumpkin to your dog’s food can help ease mild constipation.
- If your pooch has the poops, the fiber in pumpkin can help make your dog’s stools more solid and regular. Its prebiotic properties regulate the growth of good bacteria in your dog’s digestive tract (and curb the growth of bad stuff).
- Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, which Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS, says is crucial for brain development. When combined with vitamin C, E, and other antioxidants in pumpkin, pups benefit from all-around immune support.
- Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin E, potassium, and beta-carotene. Dr. Claudine Sievert explains that “vitamin E is a crucial antioxidant that combats free radicals and supports eye health. This nutrient also supports the healthy functioning of your dog’s internal organs and promotes overall heart health. Carotenoids contribute to your dog’s eye and skin health, while iron maintains their hemoglobin levels. Additionally, potassium plays a significant role in keeping your dog’s muscles in tip-top shape.”
- Another health benefit of pumpkin for dogs is weight loss. Pumpkin is also good for weight loss because it’s high in soluble fiber content and low in calories.
Fresh pumpkin vs. canned pumpkin: Which is best?
Contrary to what you might think, canned pumpkin packs a higher fiber and nutrient concentration than fresh pumpkin. Why? Well, fresh pumpkin contains more water content, diluting the concentration of essential nutrients. So, to give your dog the healthiest pumpkin option, opt for plain canned pumpkin. Avoid canned pumpkin pie filling, which can contain added sugars and spices.
Dr. Woodnutt advises avoiding sugar-free canned pumpkins. As she explains, “The main concern is sugar-free canned pumpkin, which may contain xylitol. Since ingredients and our understanding of toxins can change over time, the safest choice is to stick with 100% pumpkin.”
On the other hand, fresh pumpkins are natural and nutrient-rich options, providing a fantastic source of vitamins and soluble fiber. It also allows for more versatility in your dog’s diet, as you can roast or steam the pumpkin and serve it as a tasty snack or mix it into their meals.
Ultimately, consider your dog’s specific needs when deciding between canned or fresh pumpkins. Some dogs may prefer the taste of fresh pumpkin, while others may prefer canned.
Pumpkin for diarrhea or constipation
Introducing pumpkin into your dog’s diet can help address diarrhea or constipation, but starting with small amounts is crucial. Add one to four tablespoons of pumpkin to their regular dog food, gradually increasing the quantity so your pup doesn’t experience sensitivities or adverse reactions.
Dr. Woodnutt highlights the importance of caution, stating that while extra fiber can help dogs with chronic, low-grade diarrhea, excessive fiber may also cause more diarrhea.
Dr. Leslie Brooks, DVM, and BetterPet advisor offer specific guidelines:
“To help firm up the stool in cases of soft stools or diarrhea, give canned pumpkin to your dog in small amounts—no more than 1 tablespoon for a large/giant breed dog or 1 to 2 teaspoons for a small to medium breed dog, once or twice a day.”
Also, make sure your dog drinks plenty of water when adding pumpkin or any other fiber-rich ingredients to their diet to prevent dehydration.
Dietary guidelines according to dog size
Consider size and dietary needs when determining the right amount of pumpkin:
- Small dogs (10-20 lbs) can enjoy 1-2 teaspoons of pumpkin daily.
- Medium-sized dog (20-40 lbs) can have 1-2 tablespoons daily.
- Larger dogs (40+ lbs) can consume 2-4 tablespoons daily.
Remember, these guidelines are not set in stone as your dog’s specific needs may vary. Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, but too much vitamin A can be toxic to dogs. So it’s always good to consult a veterinarian before making significant changes to your dog’s diet.
How to safely feed your dog pumpkin
1. Keep your pumpkin plain
Pumpkin is best served plain to canines, so take note of the following:
- Spices like nutmeg as well as additives, fillers, and added sugars can make your dog sick. Nutmeg contains the toxin myristicin, which can cause disorientation, high blood pressure, and seizures in your dog. Skip the pie filling, spices, and seasonings that we often associate with yummy human treats.
- Cinnamon can cause vomiting and diarrhea
- Ensure you read labels and check the ingredients list when buying canned pumpkin pie filling. Opt for a product without xylitol, as this ingredient can be lethal for dogs.
Pet Pro Tip: If you have a dog that is prone to ‘snacksidents’ – you should consider getting a dog insurance plan as soon as possible. It can help you afford the best care in the future by covering eligible vet bills for digestive illnesses, toxic ingestion, and more.
2. Steer clear of some pumpkin parts
Not every pumpkin part is created equal. If you’re feeding your dog fresh pumpkin, keep the following rules in mind:
- Avoid the Pumpkin pulp (the stringy, gooey part in the center).
- Giving your dog pumpkin skin and stems may cause an upset stomach and indigestion.
3. Carved pumpkins are a no-go
Don’t recycle an old Jack O’Lantern as a snack for your dog! Carved pumpkins, particularly those left outdoors for an extended period, can breed mold and bacteria that can make your dog sick.
Preparing pumpkin treats for your dog
Before treating your pup to fresh pumpkin, bake it until it’s soft. Don’t forget to remove the seeds and let them cool down before serving! If you’re short on time, canned pumpkin puree is a convenient and time-saving option, especially for busy pet parents. It can be served as is without any additional preparation.
But if you want to be a DIY master, whip up your own pumpkin puree with this simple recipe.
Pumpkin seeds: Feed or toss?
Pumpkin seeds are rich in essential vitamins and minerals that can benefit your furry friend’s health. These include folic acid, vitamin A, magnesium, niacin, calcium, vitamin B, and zinc. All of these are vital for maintaining your dog’s overall well-being.
If you get the all-clear to give your dog pumpkin seeds, it’s important to prepare them properly:
- Veterinarians generally recommend using raw, organic pumpkin seeds. Make sure you roast, peel, and grind them first. Also, avoid salted pumpkin seeds.
- Feeding your dog plain raw pumpkin seeds can be dangerous, as these seeds grow rancid quickly. However, cleaning and roasting your pumpkin seeds at 350℉ for about an hour can make them last longer and improve their taste.
- Grind your roasted pumpkin seeds before adding them to your dog’s food to avoid the risk of choking.
- Store any leftover pumpkin seeds in sealed bags to preserve freshness.
Did you know? Pumpkin seeds contain oils that are great for your dog’s urinary tract and may help with canine incontinence. If your dog pees too much, ask your veterinarian if adding pumpkin seeds to their diet can help with urinary health.
How to store leftover pumpkin for your dog
Chances are you may have some leftover pumpkins. No problem! Here’s how to store your extra stash:
- You can freeze pureed pumpkin (and if you want to make it into frozen treats, just freeze it in an ice cube tray so you’ll have individual pieces).
- If you will use the rest of your pumpkin relatively quickly, put it in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated.
How much pumpkin can dogs eat?
In the delightful world of pet treats, moderation is essential! While pumpkin dog treats are a fantastic addition to your dog’s diet, please note that too much of a good thing can be, well, not-so-good.
Is pumpkin good for dogs with constipation?
Yes, pumpkin is good for dogs with constipation. It is a great source of magnesium, zinc, and soluble fiber. The high fiber content in a pumpkin can help regulate bowel movements, alleviate constipation, and promote weight loss in dogs. However, start with small amounts and consult your veterinarian to ensure the appropriate dosage for your pet’s needs.
Can I give my dog pumpkin seeds?
Yes, your dog can eat pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats for dogs. However, it’s essential to feed them in moderation and ensure they are plain and unsalted. Additionally, it’s recommended to grind or roast the seeds to make them easier for your dog to digest.
What can I mix with pumpkin for my dog?
You can mix pumpkin with dog-friendly foods. Simply add a measured portion to dry kibble or pet foods like plain yogurt, cooked rice, quinoa, chicken, or turkey. These additions can provide additional nutrients and flavor to your dog’s diet. However, it’s important to avoid any ingredients that may harm your pet and always consult your veterinarian before making significant changes to your dog’s diet.
Is it safe to give my dog pumpkin every day?
Yes, it is generally safe to give your dog pumpkin every day. However, it’s essential to monitor the amount of pumpkin you give your dog and consult with your veterinarian to ensure the appropriate dosage for your pet’s specific needs.
So, is pumpkin good for dogs? Absolutely! Your furry friend can reap the benefits of this nutritious and tasty pumpkin dog treat when fed the proper amount. Just remember to keep it balanced and when in doubt, ask your vet.
- Yadav, M., Jain, S., Tomar, R., Prasad, G. B. K. S., & Yadav, H. (2010, November 26). Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: an updated review. Nutrition Research Reviews, 23(2), 184–190. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0954422410000107
- Pumpkin as a Fibre Source. (2021, October 31). Pet Nutrition at OVC. https://ovcpetnutrition.uoguelph.ca/2021/10/31/pumpkin-as-a-fibre-source/
- Robins, M. (n.d.). Xylitol Is Toxic To Dogs, and It’s Probably in Your Home Right Now. American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dangers-of-xylitol/