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Pet Health


The Benefits of Pumpkin for Your Pet

If you’re like me, every time I think of sharing human food with my pet, I go google-crazy to make…

If you’re like me, every time I think of sharing human food with my pet, I go google-crazy to make sure it is safe. This time of the year with all the novelty foods we eat around Thanksgiving, I think of pumpkin.

Before we share food of our own, it’s important to know its effects on our pets. Most of us know that dogs can eat pumpkin, but many don’t know that cats can also eat pumpkin. Is canned pumpkin okay? How much pumpkin should our pet consume? How can pumpkin benefit our pet’s health? We’re here to answer those questions for you.

There are many benefits of pumpkin in your pet’s diet.  WebMD calls pumpkin a “superfood” for dogs. After reading their article, I understand why. In addition to being great for the digestive system, pumpkin is also full of vitamins and minerals. I love giving my dog a nutritional boost every so often, and pumpkin is a great way to do it.

 Benefits of Pumpkin for Your Pet

1. Pumpkin’s most notable benefit to our pets is its fiber content.

Veterinarians often recommend pumpkin for dogs and cats with digestive disorders, whether it be constipation or diarrhea. The reason is because of pumpkin’s high fiber content. When a dog has diarrhea, the soluble fiber content in pumpkin helps to absorb the water and bulk up the dog’s stool. Knowing that pumpkin absorbs the water content in stool, it should be noted that fiber also helps with constipation. By adding more fiber, the size of the stool increases and softens so that it can be more easily eliminated.

2. Pumpkin’s beautiful orange color is indicative of another important component — beta-carotene. Orange, yellow, and red colors of fruits and vegetables are characteristic of their beta-carotene content. In addition to pumpkin’s plentiful vitamin A content, the body will transform beta-carotene into vitamin A as well. Vitamin A is amazing for skin health and vision. The antioxidant properties strengthen your pet’s immune system and help guard against cancer and other diseases.

3. Pumpkin is also abundant in another antioxidant — vitamin C. In conjunction with its antioxidant properties, vitamin C is great for your pets. I was wowed by its many benefits. Vitamin C encourages collagen production, helping pets with hip dysplasia and other joint diseases. Isn’t that incredible? Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine too, which means it should help with any allergies your pet may be struggling with. This super-vitamin also fights inflammation. As we have discussed in previous blogs, unchecked inflammation can lead to many chronic diseases.

4. Vitamin E is another antioxidant found in pumpkin. This fruit is a powerhouse of nutrients, right? Vitamin E is essential for strong, healthy muscles and a peak-performing circulatory system.

5. Pumpkin is full of minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron. Pet Food Institute says that minerals are crucial for the proper development of our pet, including nerve, muscle, and thyroid functioning, cell health, and skin and coat maintenance.

But wait – there’s more! This is a full nutritional breakdown of pumpkin. You have to see it!

How to Feed Your Pet Pumpkin

We are not talking about giving your pet a big ole piece of pumpkin pie over the holidays. We know that sugar is not good for our pets, but I was surprised to learn that nutmeg, a spice frequently added to pumpkin pie, contains a substance that is toxic to pets. In large quantities, it can cause all kinds of dangerous symptoms. Don’t fret if your dog swipes a slice of pie while counter-surfing, though. He probably won’t feel too great, but he should be fine. Any more than a slice and I would not hesitate to call your veterinarian.

You can purchase plain canned pumpkin at the grocery store, but here is where you need to be careful. I have mistakenly purchased pumpkin pie filling in lieu of plain canned pumpkin. The cans look so much alike. Read the label and make sure you are buying only plain cooked pumpkin. Pumpkin pie filling has all kinds of other additives – usually including nutmeg too – that should not be given to your dog or cat.

I cannot stress enough the importance of feeding your pet only plain, cooked pumpkin, or pumpkin puree. No spices, no sugar, and no additives. Yes, it’s okay to give your pet fresh pumpkin from the shell, but it is harder for them to digest raw pumpkin. Never let them eat the skin of the pumpkin or the leaves either. Stick with giving your pet 100% plain, cooked pumpkin, preferably from a can.

My dog had soft stools a while back and rather than purchasing a whole can of pumpkin, I purchased a small package of pureed pumpkin made just for dogs and cats. I felt better about that. Weruva also makes pumpkin with coconut oil, flaxseed, ginger, and turmeric. Talk about superfoods!

With Halloween over with, we should make sure our dog or cat doesn’t take a bite out of the jack-o- lantern that’s been out on the porch. They mold easily, and bacteria builds up as they sit outside. That’s sure to cause a tummy ache. Jack-o-lantern pumpkin is also very tough and stringy.  There aren’t many benefits of a pumpkin that’s been carved and sitting outside for who knows how long.

Pumpkin Helps Overweight Pets Lose Weight

Pumpkin can help an overweight pet. How does that work? First of all, pumpkin is low in calories. Secondly, the fiber is very filling. So if you add some pumpkin to your pet’s food, it will fill them up with fewer calories, and they’ll eat less. Hmm, maybe I should add some pumpkin to my food…

Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs

Does your dog have problems expressing its anal glands naturally? Many dogs do, and generally, the problem is due to the dog’s diet. Often it is simply a matter of insufficient fiber in their diet. The fiber in pumpkin can help your dog produce firm stools that, when excreted, empty the anal glands normally.

But fiber is not the only issue when facing anal gland problems. Sometimes it’s a matter of a temporary or chronic digestive disorder. Pumpkin contains prebiotics and digestive enzymes that are helpful to an ailing digestive tract. These nutrients will help your dog break down and eliminate its food properly.

Benefits of Pumpkin for Cats

As mentioned,the fiber in pumpkin benefits the digestive system of both dogs and cats. Another benefit of fiber for cats is its ability to help push hair through their system, helping them pass hairballs more easily.

Just remember, cats are carnivores. Their bodies do not do well at processing much other than meat. Although fruits and vegetables can add some nutritional benefit to their food, they should be fed sparingly.

How Much Pumpkin Should I Feed My Pet?

Because of the high fiber content in pumpkin, it’s best to start with a very small serving. Too much pumpkin/fiber can actually be the cause of diarrhea or constipation.

This article by PetMD contains a helpful guideline of how much pumpkin to feed your dog. For small dogs, two-to-three teaspoons is a reasonable amount, while a fourth of a cup works best for very large dogs. For cats, they suggest trying two-to-four teaspoons for mild constipation, but three tablespoons is the maximum amount you should give your kitty.

Can My Pet Eat Pumpkin Seeds?

Cooked pumpkin seeds are fine for dogs but be aware that they may be a choking hazard for very small dogs. Likewise, cooked pumpkin seeds will not hurt cats, but again, can be a choking hazard. Also, a cat’s delicate digestive system could be obstructed if they eat too many seeds.

All that being said, I think I would err on the side of caution and avoid feeding my pet pumpkin seeds. Maybe I’m being unnecessarily cautious, but better safe than sorry, right?

Giving Pumpkin to Your Pet

So, there you have it. Everything you ever wanted to know about the benefits of pumpkin for your pet! So go ahead and treat your pet to a little pumpkin this holiday season. Most dogs and cats love pumpkin and will lick it directly from the spoon. My dog thinks it is one of the best treats ever.

Also, this month’s Bizzy Bone flavor at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts is “Pumpkin Pie!” It’s not really pie, but they think it is. (Shhh…don’t tell!) It’s just pure pumpkin puree mixed with some graham cracker crumbs and a little bit of cinnamon. Dog-gone delicious!

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