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Diet & Nutrition

The Complete Guide on Pumpkin for Dogs: Nutrition & Recipes

by Amanda Brahlek | 10.31.2022
A Jack Russell terrier dog standing with its front feet on a pumpkin

When it comes to fall, many of us celebrate the season of pumpkin, spice, and everything nice. And you may be wondering if your furry best friend can partake in this fall favorite. Many dog owners out there have heard that pumpkin is a dog superfood and is one of the best natural remedies for a dog with an upset stomach. So, is it true that pumpkin is loaded with benefits for your pup-kin? Yes! And we’re happy to help you learn how to dive into the goodness of these orange gourds to get the most pep in your pup’s step.

This guide will cover everything from choosing the right pumpkin puree for your dog to how to make DIY pumpkin dog treats—and don’t forget the seeds!

Is Pumpkin Good for Dogs?

Yes, yes, and YES! Pumpkin is a superfood for dogs. It is packed with nutrients and loaded with fiber. And, believe it or not, canned pumpkin puree offers the same benefits as cooked pumpkin just multiplied since it’s concentrated. 

Of course, you want to avoid feeding your dog pie filling that is loaded with sweeteners. But canned plain pumpkin, freshly baked pumpkin, and even pumpkin seeds are filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

The Benefits of Pumpkin, Pumpkin Puree, & Pumpkin Powder

A dog and dog owner with a pumpkin

How powerful is pumpkin as a healthy snack for your dog? Pumpkin has head-to-tail nutritional benefits for dogs from its depth of nutrients, including:

Beta-Carotene

Pumpkins have some of the highest levels of beta-carotene. This nutrient converts to Vitamin A to support your dog’s eye health and immune system.

Vitamin A

This vitamin is foundational for your dog’s organ function and development, including brain health, skin health, skeletal health, reproductive health, as well as eye development. It also plays a vital role in cellular differentiation [1]. 

Vitamin C

Known as the free-radical scavenger, this antioxidant can reduce inflammation and supports healthy cognitive function and aging [2]. While your dog’s body naturally produces its own Vitamin C, the supplemental boost from a source like pumpkin is a welcomed addition to your dog’s diet.

Vitamin E

The “E” in Vitamin E could easily stand for “excellent!” This antioxidant keeps your dog’s immune system at peak performance and supports healthy skin and coat.

Iron

Iron is essential for carrying oxygen throughout the body–this allows the cell to produce energy.

Potassium

This electrolyte supports heart, nerve, and muscle function. It also helps the body digest and absorbs other nutrients while preventing dehydration.

High soluble fiber

Fiber’s primary function is to aid in digestion–while it helps regulate bowel movements, it also keeps bad bacteria at bay while promoting good bacteria for better overall gut health. It can also help dogs maintain a healthy body weight [3].

Insoluble fiber

This form of fiber has an opposite but equally beneficial effect on your dog’s digestive system. Insoluble fiber encourages the digestive tract to draw in moisture. This helps bulkier stools pass more easily.

Is Pumpkin Good for Dogs with Diarrhea? 

When your dog experiences diarrhea, it can be worrisome and one of the most unpleasant parts of dog parenthood. While there are many causes of diarrhea, one thing is certain: pumpkin can help.

Pumpkin is a top-notch source for healthy fiber. Fiber works to slow down and bulk-up watery poop. How it works is quite simple: fiber absorbs excess water and ferments food traveling through the digestive tract. This fermentation transforms food into fatty acids and energy. It also encourages the intestines to absorb water and sodium absorption while promoting healthy gut bacteria which can get flushed out by diarrhea.

In addition to being fiber-rich, the vitamins and minerals in pumpkin promote hydration and healthy cell function as your dog isn’t feeling their best.

If your dog struggles with diarrhea for multiple days or there’s blood in their stool, it’s always best to consult your vet. Furthermore, because puppies are a bit more fragile, it’s always a good idea to give your vet a call if they have diarrhea or seem lethargic.

How much pumpkin should you give a dog with diarrhea?

To help firm up your pup’s poop, you will want to give them a few spoonfuls of plain pumpkin or pumpkin powder. Pumpkin often works best when combined with plain foods that won’t further upset your dog’s tummy. These include plain white rice, chicken or turkey, and plain Greek yogurt.

The amount of pumpkin depends on the size of your dog:

Once your dog’s stool begins to firm up, you can cut back on the pumpkin.

Will Pumpkin Help a Dog with Constipation?

Constipation can be quite uncomfortable for dogs. Luckily, pumpkin is one of the best natural remedies to alleviate constipation for dogs. Constipation is relatively rare for dogs and is often associated with post-surgery ‘straining’ issues and prescriptions.

Just as the soluble fiber in pumpkin helps with bulking up overly watery poo, pumpkin’s insoluble fiber softens the stool.

For mild constipation, you’ll want to provide about ½ of a tablespoon for small dogs and 2 tablespoons to start for larger dogs. You can continue to give your dog a few additional spoonfuls throughout the day. 

Are Pumpkin Seeds Good for Dogs?

A bowl of pumpkin seeds for dog treats

Yes. Pumpkin seeds are great for dogs. So, if you’re unsure what to do with those pumpkin seeds you scooped from the jack-o-lantern, your dog can happily munch on them! And lucky for them, pumpkin seeds are a healthy fall snack full of nutrients and packed with fiber.

How Can Pumpkin Seeds Help Your Dog?

For centuries, people fed their dogs pumpkin seeds for their natural health benefits, which may include:

How to Prepare Pumpkin Seeds for Your Dog

Pumpkin seeds can be served to your dog whole or ground up. Many dog owners bake them for a little extra crunch as well as to make them a bit easier to store. Be sure to notadd excess salt or seasoning to your dog’s pumpkin seeds. And always feed them in moderation.

How Much Pumpkin Should Your Dog Have?

Your dog can have a few spoonfuls of pumpkin daily. One rule many dog owners go by is to feed their dogs one teaspoon daily per 10 pounds of body weight. Think of pumpkin puree or roasted pumpkin more as a snack or meal topper rather than a meal substitute.

Selecting the Right Canned Pumpkin for Your Pooch

When it comes to providing your dog with pumpkin as a natural remedy for digestive problems or as a proactive healthy snack, aim for freshly baked, boiled pumpkin or plain canned cooked pumpkin. We highly recommend keeping a can handy in your pantry in case your dog’s tummy issues arise.

Avoid canned pumpkin pie filling or fall-spiced canned pumpkin. No matter how tempting these may seem, they’re just not the healthiest option for your dog. 

You can also opt for pumpkin powder which is easy to store. Just follow the instructions on the package to rehydrate it or mix it with your dog’s wet food.

Pumpkin Treats for Dogs

If you’re looking to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, or autumn with your dog, pumpkin treats are an excellent option. You can make some of your own, or buy natural dog treats with pumpkin as a top ingredient. Better yet, you can do both. 

Simple Homemade Pumpkin Dog Treats

homemade dog cookies with pumpkin

This recipe is perfect for a dog Halloween party or as a way to safely include your dog in the Thanksgiving celebrations. All you need is three ingredients (or four if you want to include pumpkin seeds) and a cookie cutter that fits the occasion! Feel free to make these in advance since they last about a week in an airtight container.

Ingredients

Instructions

      1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
      2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together your pumpkin and egg until fully combined.
      3. Next, add your flour and stir well.
      4. Place the cookie dough between two sheets of baking paper then roll out to about ½” thickness. If your mixture is extra sticky, you can dust flour over the baking paper before adding the dough.
      5. Remove the top sheet of paper and slide the slab of dough on a cutting board.
      6. Use your cookie cutter to create cookies, removing the excess dough from between.
      7. Decorate the cookies with the pumpkin seeds, gently pressing them into the dough.
      8. Place the parchment and cookies onto a baking sheet with about 1 to 2 inches of space between the cookies.
      9. Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are brown.
      10. Let cool and serve!

Dog Treats with Pumpkin

Two dogs with pumpkin dog treats

When selecting a pumpkin dog treat, we recommend sticking to all-natural ingredients. This ensures your dog’s healthy snack will benefit them fully. Pumpkin is a top ingredient in Vroomies along with sweet potato, sunflower seeds, and grub protein, making this snack as yummy as it is healthy! 

Pumpkin: A Superfood for Your Super Dog

A Shiba Inu sitting on steps with pumpkins on the other end

Pumpkin offers dog owners an excellent way to celebrate the fall holidays without the worry that comes along with unhealthy treats. As a superfood, pumpkin can help your dog feel their best and help them overcome diarrhea or constipation. Whether you opt for a few spoonfuls of canned pumpkin added to your dog’s dinner, DIY pumpkin cookies, or healthy pumpkin-packed dog treat like Vroomies, you can’t go wrong with this gourdgeous ingredient!

Happy fall and we hope your furry best friend falls head over tail for the bountiful benefits of pumpkin!

 

References:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3513714/

[2] https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/arrd.1983.127.2.139

[3] https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/benefits-high-fiber-dog-foods/

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Amanda Brahlek

Amanda Brahlek

Amanda, author of The Complete Guide to Owning a Deaf Dog, is a lifelong animal lover that has dedicated her life to making pet ownership easier through her writing. She holds a certification in Chicken Behavior and Welfare through the University of Edinburgh. She is the proud pet parent of two dogs, a cat, and a small flock of chickens.

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