Pumpkin is a ‘superfood’ and has a high concentration of critical nutrients, including potassium and vitamin A.
Why is pumpkin such an excellent supplement for our dogs? First, it calms an upset stomach and, in many cases, helps with diarrhea too. Second, it can act as a binder to help firm up loose stools. Finally, pumpkin is an excellent topper for your dog’s meals every day to keep them regular.
Be proactive – Also, don’t wait until a pet is sick to try pumpkin as a topper. Use plain, organic, canned pumpkin you find at the store. One to four tablespoons, depending on the size and weight of your pooch, are great as a topper for your dog’s meal.
Never use the type (filling) sold for pumpkin pies.
Major nutrients in pumpkin
There are so many vital nutrients in pumpkin, and the American Kennel Club recommends adding this to your dog’s first aid kit. The cans of pumpkin you find in the grocery and local pet supply stores include essential nutrients such as vitamins A, E, and C, and minerals potassium and iron. In addition, the soluble fiber helps bring your dog’s GI upset back to the center.
The nutrients in pumpkin help do what?
Pumpkins are a member of the squash family, and it’s rich in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is both a carotenoid and an antioxidant. This natural plant compound is what gives pumpkins their beautiful bright orange hue.
- Vitamin A – supports the immune system
- Vitamin E – is a powerful antioxidant
- Vitamin C– assists with hormone production
- Potassium – essential for muscle contractions
- Iron – used to transport oxygen to cells
- Carotenoids – encourage eye health
What are the health benefits of pumpkin for dogs?
Pumpkin is typically used for GI upset as it helps keep your dog from having loose stools. If your dog has a little runny stool, you can add pumpkin right away to firm it up.
(You can be generous with a few tablespoons. Did you know there are 83 calories in a cup of pumpkin and 20 carb grams in a cup?)
- Helps with constipation or diarrhea
- In some cases, skin health
- Improves eye health
- Urinary health
How do you prepare fresh pumpkin at home?
- Wash the pumpkin.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Divide the pumpkin into quarters and cut each quarter into small pieces.
- Scoop and save the seeds to wash, then roast (see below).
- Place pumpkin slices on a baking sheet.
- Bake about 45 minutes (the pumpkin flesh should be fork tender) or an hour
- Remove the outer skin, cut the baked pumpkin into small chunks and toss in the blender, gradually adding water to puree the pumpkin to the consistency of baby food.
Pumpkin ice cubes are a great way to save and store all the pumpkin you just made in the blender!
Two pumpkin ‘recipes’ for this fall
You can grow your pumpkins, buy Cinderella pumpkins, or small sugar pumpkins at the store. Here are some typical recipes you can tweak for your doggos. Of course, plain canned pumpkin works great too.
Is there such a thing as too much pumpkin?
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “The amount of vitamin A needed to cause toxic effects is 10 to 1,000 times the dietary requirements for most species.” Signs of vitamin A toxicity include nausea, anorexia, general malaise, tremors, convulsions, and yes, a dog can die from it.
Once a pumpkin has been carved, toss it; this should no longer be fed to your dogs! Never feed stems to your buddy.
Our staff can help recommend products, treats, and chews that include pumpkin as an ingredient. The above pumpkin ‘pouches’ are wonderful and may be added as a topper if you run low on canned pumpkin. There are many options, and if you’re training a younger dog that is stressed during a class, a pumpkin treat is a great alternative to use during class instead of chicken.