Do you want to feed your dog a food that supports healthy digestion, a strong immune system, great eyesight, and a lustrous coat? If so, then consider adding pumpkin to their diet.
Is pumpkin good for dogs? Yes, this food serves as a great addition to your dog’s food, and there are many reasons to do so: In the right amounts, pumpkin boasts a wealth of health benefits and many dogs love the taste, so you can feel confident adding it to your pet’s food — but, like any new treat, be sure to do so in moderation.
Below, we’ll break down how much pumpkin a dog can safely have, its health benefits, some tips for feeding it to your dog, and the risks associated with feeding your dog too much pumpkin.
How Much Pumpkin Can a Dog Have?
Pumpkin is full of antioxidants and can help with digestion. It supports good immune system, urinary tract, and eye health.
With these health benefits, and the fact that dogs really seem to like this squash, many dog owners are tempted to go overboard with feeding their dogs pumpkin. Like all things, pumpkin should be eaten in moderation. When feeding your dog pumpkin as a treat, be sure to use pure, 100% plain canned pumpkin. Pumpkin pie filling, added flavoring, spices, and extra sugar can be harmful. Artificial sweeteners are always a danger to pets.
To avoid these risks, it‘s best to avoid anything with extras added. When buying canned pumpkin, you want the real deal. Fresh pumpkin is fine, too, but be careful not to store it too long.
The general recommendation from the AKC is to add one to four tablespoons of pumpkin to your dog‘s diet. However, this does not take into account dog sizes. If you have a very small dog, you will need less, and if you have a giant breed, you will want to use a bigger serving size.
Specifically, if you have a small- to medium-sized dog you can add one to two teaspoons of pumpkin twice a day to your dog’s diet to enjoy the many benefits of the food without any unwanted side effects. If you have a giant dog, you can use one to two tablespoons of pumpkin twice a day. Keep an eye on your dog’s stool. If you notice that they are getting diarrhea, then lessen the amount of pumpkin you are feeding until the problem stops.
The Health Benefits of Pumpkin in a Dog’s Diet
Pumpkin is more than just a tasty treat for your pet. It has so many nutritional benefits, it can be considered a superfood! Pumpkin is full of fiber and has many essential nutrients that support a healthy immune system and digestive system. Even feeding pumpkin seeds to your dog can support good urinary health — but be sure to be mindful of choking hazards.
Let’s dive deeper into some of the other health benefits of adding pumpkin to your pet’s diet.
Pumpkin Is a Natural Laxative and Aids With Constipation
Pumpkin serves as a natural, whole-food laxative. Feeding raw pumpkin to your dog can get your dog’s stool moving if constipation is a concern: The vegetable has a high water content and is full of soluble fiber. This water and fiber content can help move food through the digestive system and make bowel movements easier for your pup. Interestingly, the fiber content in pumpkin can also help if your dog has diarrhea. If your dog is having poop trouble of either variety, it may help to add pumpkin to their food.
Pumpkin Promotes a Healthy Gut
Pumpkin can also assist your dog with having a healthy digestive tract, reducing the risk of an upset stomach. It helps promote a good balance of bacteria, and the higher fiber content helps keep the good bacteria in place.
Fiber is a prebiotic, and prebiotics stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. They also limit the growth of dangerous bacteria. Finally, they lower the pH level of the gut, which is what lets the microbiome thrive at good levels. Healthy microflora in the gut helps with the immune system and can prevent diarrhea.
Pumpkin is also low in calories. The low calorie content combined with the high fiber and water content means pumpkin helps support a healthy weight. It can help a dog feel full with fewer calories if you are working on weight loss. You may even consider making dog treats that contain pumpkin. These can give your dog all the benefits of a tasty treat with a fraction of the calories, which helps support a healthy body weight.
Pumpkin Is Rich With Essential Vitamins
The essential vitamins in pumpkin are one of its most important nutritional qualities. The beta-carotene (or vitamin A) it contains is what gives pumpkin its beautiful orange color, and supports good brain function, cellular function, and eye health. Pumpkin is also high in zinc, which supports a healthy coat for your dog. The potassium in pumpkin supports healthy blood pressure and metabolism.
Pumpkin is also rich in vitamin E and vitamin C, which are valuable antioxidants that support the dog‘s immune system. Antioxidants help animals destroy free radicals, which are dangerous to your pet‘s health.
If you add pumpkin seeds to your dog’s diet, you will be adding omega-3 fatty acids. These are anti-inflammatory nutrients, and they can help move kidney stones out of the urinary system. You can even use pumpkin seed powder to help with urinary incontinence.
Finally, pumpkin is full of iron. If your dog is lethargic due to low iron levels, supplementing their iron intake through a natural source like pumpkin is quite helpful. (If your dog is unusually lethargic for any reason, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.)
Pumpkin Is a Great Source of Energy
When your dog eats food, it breaks down that food into its basic building blocks, and from those building blocks it creates energy. Sometimes the energy comes from fat, but that takes quite a bit of work to break down into fatty acids. It can also come from proteins, but again the body must break those carbohydrates down into amino acids before it can use the energy. Carbohydrates break down into sugar, but that takes far less work and energy.
The carbohydrates in pumpkins are a very accessible source of energy. The high fiber helps reduce the impact of the sugar on the body, while allowing the dog to access the carbs quickly to get the energy they need. This makes carbs from pumpkin a much healthier source of energy than those from kibble or processed dog treats.
Gut health, laxative properties, energy boosts, and nutrients are just some of the perks of feeding pumpkin to your dog. Learn more about this valuable food and why it is a great choice for your pet in our article, 7 Pumpkin Facts You’ll Want To Know.
Best Ways To Feed Dogs Pumpkin
Ready to incorporate pumpkin into your dog’s diet after reading about all of its excellent health benefits, but not sure where to start? Here are some safe and effective tips to help you find the right source of pumpkin for your pet, and some of the best ways to serve it.
Serve Them Canned Organic Pumpkin
Canned and fresh pumpkin both have the antioxidants that your dog can benefit from, but canned pumpkin actually has a higher concentration of the fiber and nutrients. The water content of fresh pumpkin means that each bite has a little bit less of these nutrients. Canned pumpkin is also affordable, and it may be easier to keep fresh once opened as compared to a pumpkin that you cut and dice.
Canned pumpkin is a convenient way to add pumpkin to your dog’s diet, but be careful about the version you buy. Many canned pumpkins have additives that are not healthy, like the xylitol in some pumpkin pie filling. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and could put your pet’s life at risk. Look for pure pumpkin puree, and opt for organic to reduce the risk. Avoid anything labeled as pie filling; this often has pumpkin spice and other dangerous additives.
Buy High-Quality Pumpkin Treats
You can also add pumpkin to your dog’s diet with dog treats that contain the ingredient. The Honest Kitchen has many types of pumpkin treats that are sure to please even the pickiest pets, and pet owners appreciate our products’ whole-food, natural, human-grade ingredients. Shop The Honest Kitchen’s pumpkin dog treats.
Make Dog-Friendly Pumpkin Recipes
Instead of buying dog treats with pumpkin in them, consider making some yourself. If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, you can add this superfood to your pet’s diet with some dog-friendly pumpkin treat recipes. Here are some tasty ones to try:
When making these recipes, research all of the ingredients you plan to use and make sure they are dog-friendly and safe. If the treat recipes above aren’t quite up your dog’s alley, you can find a lot of other pumpkin dog treat recipes for your pet online. Spend a little time in the kitchen and don’t be afraid to get creative — and watch as your pet gobbles up what you make!
The Risks Associated With Feeding Your Dog Too Much Pumpkin
While plain pumpkin is healthy and safe for dogs, too much pumpkin can create problems. First, too much of this vegetable can lead to diarrhea. Remember, it is a natural laxative, and as such, can get things moving too quickly.
In addition to being mindful of the amount, you should also avoid feeding the pumpkin’s skin and stem to your dog. Both of these are hard for the dog to digest, and they can create a blockage in their digestive tract. If the dog swallows the stem, it could block the airflow as well. These can be fatal problems and they will require an emergency vet trip. Only the pumpkin flesh and seeds are dog-safe.
Finally, many pet parents assume that because pumpkins are safe, they can use their Halloweek jack-o-lantern as a fun holiday treat. However, this is a dangerous idea. While the pumpkin itself is safe, it can grow mold or bacteria after sitting around on your front porch for several days (or weeks). This may not always be visible growth, but it can make your dog sick enough to end up at the emergency vet. Remember, too, that pumpkin tastes good to most dogs, so your dog may be tempted to take a bite out of your Halloween decor. It’s best to be sure your jack-o-lanterns are out of your dog’s reach.