Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin?
Yes, they can! Not only can they eat it … they should. it’s packed with nutrients that are good for them. And pumpkin has many health benefits for your dog, including high fiber content that supports her digestive system. Most dogs love the taste of pumpkin so it’s easy to feed.
What Are The Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs?
Here are some properties of pumpkin that support your dog’s health.
1. Vitamins And Minerals
Pumpkin is packed with nutrients your dog needs. It’s a great source of Vitamins A, E, and C, which are important for the immune system, brain function, eyes, and skin health.
Pumpkin also contains important minerals like potassium, copper, manganese, and iron that each play a role in cellular functions. This is a great reason to add pumpkin as a part of your dog’s regular diet.
2. Eye Health
Like other orange vegetables, pumpkin contains a lot of beta-carotene, which is a precursor for vitamin A. Once it converts to vitamin A in the body, it helps improve vision as well as boosting overall immunity and skin and coat health. The carotenoid zeaxanthin also protects your dog’s eyes from light damage.
Antioxidants protect your dog from dangerous free radicals in the body. Free radicals are damaged cells that steal molecules from other cells. They’re a natural by-product of metabolism and exposure to toxins in the environment. But if free radicals are uncontrolled, they can harm your dog’s cells and even his DNA.
Antioxidants in pumpkin include these plant pigments, called carotenoids:
Carotenoids help lower cancer risk and degenerative disease. Studies show that they may also be good for bone health. Like beta carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin also forms vitamin A. Zeaxanthin contributes to slowing down the aging process, improving heart health, increasing glutathione levels, and reducing inflammation of the skin.
RELATED: Learn why your dog needs antioxidants in his diet …
Pumpkin seeds are a natural and effective way to remove parasites like worms from your dog’s digestive tract. The seeds contain the amino acid cucurbitin, which paralyzes worms. Studies in both rats and puppies have shown the ability of pumpkin seeds to get rid of intestinal worms.
RELATED: Foods that help eliminate worms from your dog …
Pumpkin is a good source of fiber, which is great for your dog’s digestive health. The soluble fiber content in pumpkin absorbs water, which can help to solidify runny stool when your dog has diarrhea.
The fiber can also help with the opposite problem, by loosening up the packed stool in the case of constipation.
The fiber in pumpkin can also help your dog feel full for longer. And fiber can also help prevent anal gland problems in dogs.
RELATED: Read how dietary fiber benefits your dog …
How to Feed Pumpkin to your Dog
The valuable parts of the pumpkin are the seeds and the flesh. As with any vegetable, organic pumpkin is the healthiest choice for your dog, to avoid produce grown with pesticides.
Pumpkin seeds are low in fat and rich in protein. When using seeds as a remedy for intestinal worms, make sure that you only give your dog raw organic seeds, not the salted, roasted pumpkin seeds that humans eat.
The best way to give your dog the benefit of pumpkin seeds is to grind them and add a ½ teaspoon per 20lbs of weight to her food once or twice per day. Continue this once or twice per day until you no longer see worms or eggs in her stool.
You can give your dog fresh pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree as part of her regular meal.
As part of a regular healthy diet, you can give your dog anywhere from 1/3 to ½ cup of pumpkin each day. You can give it raw or cooked, whichever your dog prefers. If you feed it raw, you’ll need to mulch or puree it for digestibility. Cooked pumpkin can be fed cubed if your dog likes something a bit more chewy.
It might surprise you to know that it may be better to give your dog canned pureed pumpkin rather than fresh.This is because canned pumpkin is more concentrated with fiber and nutrients and less water content. Plus, canned pumpkin is available year-round and is more convenient to store. But do make sure that you buy plain pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie filling with added spices, salt, or sugar. You can even buy canned pumpkin that’s sold for dogs … but it’s usually more expensive than regular grocery store canned pumpkin and doesn’t have any unique ingredients.
How Pumpkin Helps Dogs With Diarrhea Or Constipation
Pumpkin can often be an easy fix for mild diarrhea or constipation in dogs. The secret is in the fiber content, which can help with both conditions.
If your dog has diarrhea, add 1 to 4 tablespoons of canned pumpkin to her food for a few days until her stools become firmer. The fiber absorbs and helps remove excess water from her digestive tract.
For constipation, add 1 to 4 tablespoons of food to her meal. Make sure she gets plenty of water because dehydration can be a reason for constipation. Fiber absorbs the extra water and helps ease bowel movements.
With either diarrhea or constipation, if your dog isn’t better in a couple of days, you’ll need to find out what’s causing the problem so you can consider other solutions.
It’s easy to make homemade pumpkin treats for your dog. These raw pumpkin spice dog treats make a healthy snack that you can freeze and use at your convenience.
Or, freeze some pureed pumpkin in an ice cube tray for a quick tasty treat on a warm day.
Next time you see a pumpkin, remember it’s not just for carving on Halloween! Your dog can benefit from eating pumpkin at any time of year.
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Burri, B.J. et al. Absorption, metabolism, and function of Beta-cryptoxanthin. Nutrition Reviews. 2016 Feb; 74(2): 69-82.
Marie-Magdeleine, C. et al. Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata Duchesne ex Poir.) seeds as an anthelmintic agent? Nuts and Seeds in health and Disease Prevention. 2011: 933-939.
Yadav, M. et al. Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: an updated review. Nutrition Research Reviews. 2010 Dec; 23(2): 184-190.