Turns out, pumpkin for dogs offers major health benefits. Read this article to find out how pumpkin can help your pooch.
Fall is quickly upon us and with that comes some of our favorite treats: pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. From lattes to pies, pumpkin is truly a staple of autumn. However, what many pet parents may not realize is that pumpkin (in it's organic, natural pureed form) is also highly beneficial for Fido.
In this article, we'll cover the ways in which pumpkin should be the newest addition to your dog's diet.
Is Pumpkin Good For Dogs?
The short answer is yes! Pumpkin is, in fact, good for dogs. That's right. Pumpkin can help treat a slew of ailments from digestive issues to eliminating intestinal worms to giving your pup a shiny, healthy coat. The best part is, pumpkin can be given all year round to help your four-legged friend stay healthy and happy even when it isn't the fall season.
What is Pumpkin?
Pumpkin is so much more than pumpkin pie. It is actually a squash plant that is native to North America. If you've ever carved a pumpkin for Halloween, you know first-hand that the inside of the pumpkin has a pulpy consistency and is chock-full of seeds.
What are Pumpkin Seeds?
Speaking of seeds... Many people may not realize just how beneficial pumpkin seeds are. These oval, flat seeds are full of antioxidants, vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals. The seeds are also rich in lipids (also beneficial for your dog's diet).
Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs
Many pet parents constantly find themselves searching for holistic, natural alternatives to conventional medications. It makes sense. The more you research the harmful (and potentially irreversible) side effects of the vast majority of conventional drugs, the more you hope that there might be another way. The good news is, there likely is. In fact, many natural alternatives not only ease the dog's current ailment but also simultaneously relieve others and prevent the development of future conditions.
Pumpkin is just one of these natural alternatives that not only helps your pup's current condition but also benefits Fido in a multitude of other ways. Fun fact, the conversation surrounding the health benefits of pumpkin may be new information for some of our readers, but it certainly isn't newly found knowledge. In fact, Native Americans used pumpkin to promote the healing of wounds and to fight intestinal parasites.
It’s great to know that pumpkin isn't only a tasty treat, but a means to heal and protect. Let's take a look at all of the ways pumpkin may be able to help your four-legged friend.
Pumpkin for Dog Diarrhea
One of the most common uses of canned pumpkin is for dogs suffering from diarrhea. Canned pumpkin is an excellent source of soluble fiber that also contains essential vitamins and minerals. More specifically, it contains vitamins A, C, E, potassium, and iron, among others. The natural fiber content of the pumpkin helps to slow down digestion by adding bulk to the dog's stool.
Experts recommend mixing your normal dog food with a tablespoon of canned pumpkin. Many pet parents report that they are shocked at how quickly the pumpkin works to clear up their dog's loose stools.
With that being said, it is important to recognize if your dog's diarrhea persists after the pumpkin supplement has been added. If this is the case, we encourage you to take Fido to the veterinarian. Dog diarrhea is a non-specific sign. Diarrhea itself isn't an illness, but rather a sign of something else and a non-specific sign could be a sign of a whole slew of ailments. If the diarrhea continues, do not use pumpkin as a "band-aid". It's imperative to get to the root of what is causing it in the first place.
Dog Constipation Treatment
Interestingly enough, while pumpkin is a great remedy for diarrhea, it is equally effective at easing constipation. Naturally increasing the amount of soluble fiber in your dog's diet will also help move things along in a comfortable way. When you use canned pumpkin puree to help ease Fido's digestive issues, your dog won't be racing to the grass to use the bathroom. Pumpkin is gentle, unlike some conventional drugs designed to relieve constipation. If you've had to deal with medicines for constipation relief you know how... messy... it can be.
Experts recommend adding 1 to 4 tablespoons of canned pumpkin to Fido's normal food. Additionally, always make sure that your pup has plenty of fresh water. Dehydration can have a direct link to constipation and will certainly make a pre-existing condition even worse.
Treatment for Dog Upset Stomach
There are a number of reasons why your dog may be suffering from an upset stomach. One of the most common reasons is a change in food. First, if you are switching up your dog's food, whether it’s the brand, or meats, etc., always do it gradually. There are very few dogs with stomachs that can handle an immediate change. Slowly introduce the new food by mixing it with the old food in increments. In addition to gradually introducing the new food, pet owners can add pumpkin to help ease and relieve the digestive tract. Again, 1–4 tablespoons should do the trick. Most pet parents say that they see results almost straight away.
With that said, an upset stomach is yet again another non-specific sign. Therefore, if diarrhea, constipation, or an upset stomach seemingly appear out of nowhere or persist beyond a day or so, we recommend seeing a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. (Particularly with persistent diarrhea, even before getting to the vet, please ensure that your dog remains hydrated.)
An upset stomach may be due to allergies, ulcers, gastrointestinal dysfunction, among several other causes. At the end of the day, it's important to know exactly what is going on, in order to treat the condition appropriately.
Pumpkin for Weight Loss & Management
Dogs that struggle with obesity or weight management can also benefit from pureed pumpkin. Of course, Fido is adorable no matter what the scale says, but weight can really affect your dog's quality of life. Adding pumpkin to your dog's diet can tremendously help to regulate their weight. Additionally, replacing a portion of your dog's normal food with pumpkin is a great way to promote weight loss because pumpkin is a low-calorie yet highly nutritional food source.
Pumpkin Vitamin Benefits | Pumpkin Nutrition
As we previously mentioned, pumpkin has a ton of nutritional benefits because it is chock full of vitamins. For instance, vitamin A greatly helps with vision and vitamin C effectively helps to boost the immune system. Just as with humans, our furry friends can catch the flu and other viruses. Vitamin C is a great way to ensure that your pup's health is always in check. Additionally, vitamin C is very important for dogs as they get older, as it helps to protect their joints.
We may not like to admit that our beloved pup is getting older. While we can't turn back time, we can make sure that our dog's diet is loaded with nutrients that help them to age gracefully. Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the liver. Both beta carotene and vitamin A are antioxidants. Thus, they actually help to slow the aging process and protect the dog's body as they grow into their senior years.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds for Dogs
Remarkably, the benefits of pumpkin don't stop with pumpkin puree. In fact, pumpkin seeds are full of nutrients themselves. Incredibly, pumpkin seeds are an effective deworming agent. The seeds have the ability to eliminate intestinal parasites. We previously mentioned that medicinal uses of pumpkin aren't anything "new." Native Americans used pumpkin seeds as an anti-parasitic and to heal wounds. On top of that, the seeds have anti-inflammatory properties, promote cardiovascular health, and are rich in vitamins.
Worms in Dogs
We want to go a little more in-depth about worms in dogs, particularly since pumpkin seeds can eliminate them.
Worms are relatively common in dogs. They are typically ingested through drinking contaminated water (or in the case of puppies, even drinking their mother’s milk) and can wreak havoc on your pup's digestive system if their numbers grow beyond a certain level. Luckily, there are signs to look out for, including:
Loss of appetite
Mucus in or covering the stool
Matter that looks like rice grains in the stool
If you notice any of the aforementioned signs and/or believe that your dog may have worms, it is best to have this properly diagnosed by a veterinarian. Worms can be treated, but you'll want to ensure that worms are indeed the root cause of the digestive issues and there isn't another condition that needs to be dealt with.
Another fun fact! Pumpkin seeds can eliminate intestinal worms and parasites in humans too! Pretty cool, in our opinion.
Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants and fatty acids that promote healthy urinary function. This means they can help to treat and prevent conditions like painful urinary tract infections.
Additionally, pumpkin seeds, specifically pumpkin seed oil, can also help to bring relief to aging dogs that struggle with incontinence or an overactive bladder.
Pumpkin seeds can also prevent the development of kidney stones!
How Much Pumpkin Can You Give a Dog?
By now, you might be sold on the idea of integrating some tasty pumpkin into your dog's diet. Typically, 1 to 4 tablespoons of canned pumpkin is a good place to start. You can mix the pumpkin puree with your dog's normal food. Chances are, they will love the taste. This is also the ideal dosage for diarrhea, constipation, or an upset stomach associated with switching foods.
We do want to mention as with all dietary changes, we recommend starting off slowly. Yes, pumpkin is all-natural and safe for dogs, but you don't need to overload Fido with a brand new supplement when the stomach might already be in a fragile state. Starting with 1 to 4 tablespoons will certainly do the trick!
In terms of using canned or pureed pumpkin for weight loss or weight management, begin by substituting one tablespoon of canned pumpkin for ¼ cup of food. Of course, gage your pup's eating habits to make sure they don’t seem to be too hungry with the new change. However, because pumpkin is so rich in nutrients and vitamins, the substitution usually works great.
What is the Best Canned Pumpkin for Dogs?
It's important to note that there is a particular type of pumpkin that is good for dogs. Not all canned pumpkin is the same. You'll want to buy plain, canned pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling or canned pumpkin pie. These products may contain xylitol, which is toxic to pets.
Additionally, you'll want to avoid pumpkin that has added salt, spices, or sugar. These additives can prove to have the opposite effect of what you're hoping for and actually make your dog's digestive issues even worse.
Keeping all of that in mind, we recommend that you purchase canned pumpkin over fresh pumpkin. It may come as a surprise, but because canned pumpkin is concentrated, an equal amount would contain a higher percentage of fiber and nutrients than fresh pumpkin does. Just be sure to read the labels. There is no need for anything other than 100% pumpkin to be in the can of goodness. Keep it natural whenever you can! (That goes for just about everything in your dog's life)
Once you find your favorite canned pumpkin, many pet owners opt to make homemade dog treats. Pumpkin dog treats are a wonderful way to reward Fido in a health-conscious way. They won't even realize that the delicious treat is actually benefiting them in so many ways!
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Yes, dogs can eat pumpkin seeds, but there are a few things that you should know! First, make sure that the pumpkin seeds are unsalted. Again, natural is best. Additionally, it’s best that the pumpkin seeds are roasted and shelled.
It's common for dogs to not be over-the-moon with the idea of chowing down on the slippery, oval seeds. If this is the case, don't worry, there's a solution! Simply grind the pumpkin seeds in a coffee grinder and sprinkle over Fido's food bowl. This additive makes for a great source of protein and fiber.
**Note! Make sure that the pumpkin seeds are stored in a sealed tight ziplock bag. Pumpkin seeds can spoil and become toxic if they are left out for too long.
As with everything, we always recommend consulting your holistic vet when treating specific ailments. This will ensure that your dog is getting the proper treatment that they may need.
Pumpkin for Dogs: The Bottom Line
We know that you want what's best for your dog. Here at Honest Paws, we are all dog owners and animal lovers. Therefore, we understand how concerning it can be when your dog isn't feeling quite like themselves. We also understand how confusing it can be when a routine vet check leads to prescription medications, some of which you may not be able to pronounce.
Luckily, there is hope. Holistic and all-natural alternatives are finally starting to attract more of the attention they deserve and we all should be grateful. The fact that we have the ability to choose how we heal and prevent illnesses is remarkable.
Even if your pup isn't suffering from digestive issues, switch it up! Instead of the typical peanut butter treat, give pumpkin a shot. There are so many ways to effectively and safely ensure that our dogs are happy and healthy. It's worth finding out what is best for your furbaby.
*This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.
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