Make room in your fall menu for Fido’s seasonal treat because pumpkin is also good and enjoyable for dogs! Pumpkin is a nutritious and versatile ingredient not just for humans, but for your best pal, as well. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of pumpkin and the many ways that your pet pal can enjoy this fall staple.
What are the benefits of pumpkin for dogs?
One cup of cooked pumpkin packs a lot of nutrients and has few calories. It is loaded with fiber; has high levels of beta-carotene; significant amounts of potassium; and also delivers a good dose of vitamin C, iron, folate, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Good for Eye Health
As with humans, vitamin A also plays a key role for Fido’s eye health. The beta-carotene in pumpkin can lower your dog’s risk for degenerative eye diseases, especially as he gets older. Make sure to mix the pumpkin with a small amount of healthy oil or fat so that his body can efficiently process the vitamin A - which is a fat-soluble vitamin.
Supports Immune Health
Pumpkin delivers a potent antioxidant blend - the combination of vitamins A, C, and E reinforces immune health and helps the body fight off free radicals, which contribute to the development of cancers. Better immune health, of course, means a lower risk for illnesses and better overall health for your dog.
Great for Digestive Health
For Fido’s constipation or diarrhea, the common solution is soluble fiber. Dietary fiber has the unique ability to add bulk to the stool and absorb excess water to treat diarrhea; it also makes the stool softer and adds weight to it to relieve constipation. A bit of boiled pumpkin mixed into your dog’s food will ensure healthy bowel movements.
Pumpkin seeds are also an effective natural treatment for worms. The seeds contain cucurbitacin, which is toxic to worms and makes them easy to expel. Fido can eat the seeds whole or you can grind and mix them into his food.
Promotes Healthy Skin and Coat
Maintaining your best bud’s skin health and beautiful coat can be easier when you make pumpkin a regular part of his diet. Pumpkin’s high water content, plus vitamin A, vitamin E, and zinc will help keep your dog’s skin healthy and moisturized, and his coat strong and shiny. You’ll soon notice that he experiences less skin flaking and hair shedding.
Giving your dog pumpkin
Your dog will enjoy the rich and creamy flavor of pumpkin. Here are different ways for your furry pal to enjoy this tasty ingredient.
- Plain canned pumpkin mixed in with kibble or given on its own. Canned pumpkin has higher concentrations of fiber and other nutrients than fresh pumpkin because most of the water has been discarded. Avoid pumpkin pie filling or canned pumpkin that contains salt, sugar, spices, and other additives.
- Boiled or baked pumpkin with a bit of honey or a pinch of cinnamon. You can also puree the pumpkin to give your dog’s diet more variety.
- Raw pumpkin seeds can be given as treats. You can also dry-roast the seeds in the oven; don’t add salt or oil.
- If you like baking, you can make pumpkin and peanut butter dog biscuits. The recipe below makes 25 biscuits; adjust the ingredients accordingly to make a larger batch.
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- 2 large eggs eggs
- ½ cup canned pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Whisk together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon. The dough should be dry and stiff; add water as needed.
- Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick diameter.
- Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. You can also use a bone-shaped mold.
- Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the biscuits are done.
You can also buy pumpkin supplements and pumpkin treats and canned foods that are especially made for dogs.
Do not give Fido canned pumpkin pie; most brands contain xylitol, which is not safe for dog consumption. Any other pumpkin recipe that is meant for humans and contains salt, sugar, fats, and other ingredients that are toxic to dogs, such as onions and garlic, should not be given to Fido even in small amounts. It’s best to always make him his own pumpkin meals.
As healthy as pumpkin is for dogs, it is not a complete source of nutrition. It can be filling because of its high water and fiber content and, therefore, may seem like a cheaper alternative. But it should not make up the bulk of Fido’s daily diet. A mostly-pumpkin diet will most likely result in nutrient deficiency and not enough calories to meet his daily needs.
The best way to incorporate pumpkin into your dog’s diet is to mix it with his regular food or to give it to him as a snack or treat. The recommended amount is 1 tsp of cooked and pureed pumpkin or 1 tsp of canned pumpkin per 10 lbs of body weight per day. For pumpkin seeds, the recommended amount is 1 whole or ground up seed per 10 lbs of body weight per day; take note that pumpkin seed has a higher fat content and should be given to Fido in moderation.
Pumpkin for Dogs - Final Thoughts
Your dog will enjoy the rich and creamy texture and flavor of pumpkin, whether you mix it in with his food or give it to him as a treat. Pumpkin is a highly nutritious ingredient that is safe for our friendly canines and offers a lot of health benefits. Find more yummy pumpkin recipes that are specially formulated for dogs to help boost their overall health and add more color and flavor to their diet.