Every year it seems like the instant temperatures start to fall there is a pumpkin explosion in the United States. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin scented candles, and giant decorative pumpkins are everywhere. In fact, over 1 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced in the United States each year .
With all the pumpkin around you may be wondering whether you can feed pumpkin to your dog. The short answer is yes, but read below to discover how you can give your dog pumpkin safely.
Is Pumpkin Safe for Dogs?
Before giving your dog new foods it is always important to do your research and make sure the food is not going to be harmful to your pup. For example, onions, garlic, grapes, and some artificial sweeteners are actually toxic to dogs.
Pumpkin, however, is safe for humans and dogs alike. Pure pumpkin that does not contain any additives is high in vitamins A and C, contains fiber and is low in calories. In fact, some dog foods feature pumpkin as an ingredient to support digestive health. Many dogs also enjoy the taste of pumpkin.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Pumpkin?
Raw pumpkin is very tough in texture and is much more difficult to digest than cooked pumpkin. However, some dogs may tolerate and enjoy eating small amounts of raw pumpkin or pumpkin rind.
If pet parents choose to feed raw pumpkin to their dogs they should start with very small quantities and monitor their pets for any signs of gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite.
If choosing to offer pumpkin rind to a dog, the dog should be closely supervised to ensure she is only chewing on the rind and is not swallowing large chunks as this may lead to an intestinal blockage, a very serious condition.
Make sure not to allow a dog to chew on a Halloween Jack-O-Lantern that’s been sitting out as it may have started to rot and may contain mold.
Can Dogs Eat Canned Pumpkin?
Canned pumpkin—as long as it contains 100% pumpkin with no added ingredients—such as salt or sugar, is very safe to feed your dog. In fact, veterinarians will often recommend that pet parents add canned pumpkin to their dog’s food to help with diarrhea and constipation symptoms.
The reason for this recommendation is that the fiber contained in canned pumpkin is thought to ease these symptoms. While no studies have specifically looked at the benefits of using pumpkin to help treat diarrhea or constipation, these recommendations are inferred from other studies on the benefits of high fiber foods for gastrointestinal health. Many veterinarians and pet parents swear by this simple trick.
While the fiber in pumpkin may not make a huge difference to your dog’s gastrointestinal health, the good news is that canned pumpkin in small quantities will not harm your pup and can be a tasty low-calorie treat.
Again, when buying canned pumpkin for dogs, make sure the only ingredient listed is pumpkin. DO NOT feed your dog canned pumpkin pie filling, as that will be much higher in calories and contain sugar and spices which can upset your pet’s stomach.
How Much Pumpkin Can Dogs Eat?
Too much of a good thing can definitely be bad when it comes to feeding your dog pumpkin (or any treat for that matter). To make sure that your dog is as healthy as possible, it is important to feed a complete and balanced diet containing the correct proportions of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Most commercially available dog foods are complete and balanced.
However, if treats or any extra foods that are added to your dog’s food make up more than 10 percent of a dog’s daily calorie intake, this will lead to an unbalanced diet and could lead to health issues. The good news is that plain canned pumpkin only contains about 5 calories per tablespoon so one or a few tablespoons added to your dog’s diet (depending on her size) should not cause an issue.
So how much pumpkin should you add to your dog’s food? You should start with about one tablespoon for small dogs and up to a half cup for a giant breed dog. This recommendation is based on recommended fiber intake based on your dog’s total daily recommended calories. If trying to use pumpkin for diarrhea or constipation you could slowly increase the amount within reason until the desired effect is seen.
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds can also be fed to dogs without a concern for toxicity. The concern with pumpkin seeds, however, is that they do contain a lot of calories per serving. While raw, cooked, or canned pumpkin is very low in calories, pumpkin seeds pack about 75 calories into a single tablespoon. High-calorie foods such as pumpkin seeds can very easily unbalance a dog’s diet and also lead to weight gain. In addition, commercial or home roasted pumpkin seeds will often contain added oils that contribute extra calories or sodium that can be harmful to dogs.
So in general, unless fed as very occasional treats in very small quantities, pumpkin seeds should not be fed to dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Pie?
Pumpkin pie should not be fed to dogs. Pumpkin pie is high in fat and can upset your dog’s stomach or potentially even cause pancreatitis, a serious medical condition. Also, pumpkin pie usually contains dairy products and many dogs are lactose intolerant. The sugar and high calorie content of pumpkin pie is also not healthy for your dog.
Furthermore, some lower calorie pumpkin pie recipes may call for xylitol, a sugar substitute that is very toxic to dogs, causing low blood sugar and liver issues.