By: Alex Semancik
Autumn is pumpkin season. The large, orange squashes are eye-catching on porches and tasty in seasonal dishes. Pumpkin-flavored beverages and foods are a huge hit and have appeared in just about any form imaginable. Pumpkin can have great health benefits for humans in addition to the taste, but can your dog safely consume pumpkin?
Yes! Your four-legged friend can eat pumpkin. When given to your dog in moderation, pumpkin can actually have great health benefits. But, ditch the spice. Pumpkin given to your dog must be done so safely and in small portions. Pumpkins contain a large amount of vitamin A, too much of which is toxic to dogs. Pumpkin-spiced human foods (like pumpkin pie) are out of the question and can be dangerous for canines.
So, what kind of pumpkin can you feed your dog? Canned pumpkin is an easy, convenient choice that is sold year-round. Ensure that you are purchasing “pure” canned pumpkin, NOT the “pumpkin pie filling” kind with spices added. Canned pumpkin can be served right out of the can and does not need to be cooked like fresh pumpkin.
Photo courtesy Melissa Miller and Southern Cove Labradoodles Both fresh and canned pumpkin are good sources of nutrients and fiber, but canned pumpkin contains a higher concentration of fiber and nutrients compared to fresh pumpkin. This is because fresh pumpkin has higher water content than canned pumpkin, according to American Kennel Club.
Although fresh pumpkin isn’t quite as effective as canned in terms of fiber, if you are feeling more adventurous and have pumpkin at your disposal, this can also be a great option. Fresh pumpkin must be cooked before being served to your dog. Simply mashing and steaming the fresh pumpkin is an easy and safe way to prepare it for your canine friend.
Whether you choose canned or fresh pumpkin, it is of utmost importance that you feed your dog a safe serving. Again, too much pumpkin can be toxic for dogs, so it is best to give them a small amount at a time to see how they react. Chewy.com’s resident veterinarian suggests giving your dog one teaspoon per 10 pounds of your dog's body weight per day. Mix your appropriately portioned pumpkin into your four-legged friend's wet or dry food. If training, offer your dog some pumpkin as a reward.
Pumpkin can be a fun treat to give your pet, but it has several medical benefits as well. Pumpkin contains vitamins A, C, and E and the minerals iron and potassium, all of which are beneficial to your dog's diet. The fiber-rich content of pumpkin is useful as well and can be a good remedy if your pup has diarrhea; the beneficial fiber can help add bulk to your dog’s stool. In addition, pumpkin contains prebiotics that can help introduce healthy bacteria to their gut. While pumpkin can be a useful medical tool for dog owners to remedy diarrhea if your dog is having serious medical issues consult your veterinarian immediately. Every dog is different; if your dog reacts poorly to pumpkin stop giving it to them right away.