Health benefits of pumpkin for your dog
By Caroline Fontein
Dog mom and pet lifestyle contributor
Once considered just an orange fruit harvested in October, pumpkins have become synonymous with the onset of fall. You don’t have to look far to see them in EVERYTHING this time of year from pumpkin seed gouda to pumpkin spice mochi ice cream. But what about pumpkin for your pup?
All PSLs aside...
Pumpkin can help benefit your dog’s health year round.
1. It’s gourd for dog constipation and diarrhea
Pumpkin is packed with digestion-regulating fiber and high in water content. Why is this important? Well, fiber has been shown to ease both constipation, and somewhat ironically, diarrhea.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), “The soluble fiber content in pumpkin adds bulk to your dog’s stool by absorbing water, and fiber fermentation produces beneficial fatty acids that supply energy to cells, stimulates intestinal sodium and water absorption and lowers the pH level of the large intestines.”
However, it’s important to note, you suspect your dog might have a serious underlying health condition, we recommend consulting with your vet.
2. Pumpkin for weight loss
Pumpkin can also be a safe weight loss aid for dogs. Along with helping to regulate digestion, the fiber in pumpkin can also provide a feeling of fullness, which may help your pudgy pooch lose weight slowly and safely.
3. Pumpkin spice up your dog's nutrition
Besides aiding in digestion, pumpkin is a great way to add more nutrients to your dog’s diet. Pumpkins are packed with important nutrients, including beta-carotene, zinc, iron, vitamin A, E and C and potassium. The short story? Pumpkin is yummy, healthy and hassle-free. Hot diggity dog!
How to pick the perfect pumpkin
Fresh or canned? Wondering how to prepare pumpkin for your dog? No need to start scouring local pumpkin patches, a trip to your local grocery store’s canned foods section will suffice.
While both fresh and canned pumpkin are safe for dogs, the American Kennel Club recommends that plain canned pumpkin is the best choice because it contains a higher concentration of fiber and nutrients than fresh pumpkins. This is because fresh pumpkin has a higher water content than the canned pumpkin you can find at almost every grocery store.
When shopping for canned pumpkin make sure you pick up plain pureed pumpkin flesh—not the sugary pie filling. Canned pumpkin that contains spices, additives and sugar can irritate your dog’s stomach.
Pumpkin pie filling can also contain sugar substitutes like xylitol that can be toxic for dogs. Here are a few other human foods your dog should avoid.
How to prepare pumpkin for your dog
If you do want to use a fresh pumpkin, make sure to cook it first. It’s important to note that fresh pumpkin parts can get rancid. So, don’t let your pumpkin sit for too long before turning it into a healthy side dish for your dog. Whether you go with canned or fresh, cooked pumpkin, you can give it to your dog by mixing it with their food or alone, if your dog will eat it.
How much pumpkin should I give my dog?
The MERCK Veterinary Manual suggests feeding your dog 1 - 4 tablespoons of pumpkin. However, we recommend checking with your vet on how much your individual dog should have based on their weight, as a small amount goes a long way.
Is your pup turning their nose up at pumpkin?
Here are a few more creative ways you can try adding pumpkin to your dog’s diet:
Use it as a filler in their favorite chew toy: Ok, so maybe your dog doesn’t like the taste of pumpkin on its own. No problem.
Try mixing pumpkin puree with a spoonful of plain, unsweetened peanut butter. Then, pack the mixture it into their toy and watch the tail wagging begin.
Whip up a pup-kin spiced latte: Just mix a few tablespoons of pumpkin with warm water and plain, non-fat yogurt. Then, spice it up with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and give it to your dog. By adding yogurt you can also help benefit your dog’s gut health with probiotics.
- Make a frozen treat that you can save for later: All you need to do is mix a cup of plain yogurt with a cup of pumpkin puree. Next, divide the mixture evenly in ice cube trays or a mold and let freeze for 24 hours. From there, you can remove your dog treats from the tray and into a reusable bag that can be stored in the freezer.
No Pumpkin? No Problem
Even if your don't have a pumpkin nearby, it doesn't mean you have to squash the idea of supporting your dog's gut health. Our SmartyPaws health supplements for dogs can help.
To support gut and immune health, along with proper digestion and normal bowel health, our SmartyPaws chews include both probiotics and green-lipped mussel. They also contain other premium ingredients to support hip, joint, skin, allergy, urinary tract and thyroid health - all in one easy serving.