Pumpkin Pleasure (for dogs)

So ….. what about pumpkin for dogs?

In short: YES but, as always, the devil is in the details.

Pumpkin is full of nutrients.  It’s a great thing to add to your dog’s diet.  It contains several vitamins of note (A, C, E) as well as important minerals (Iron, Potassium).   It contains prebiotics which are important for the maintenance of a healthy gut.  It is high in soluble fibre which will assist in preventing and recovering from diarrhea.  It is soothing on a dog’s stomach.

All of these attributes are fantastic …. in moderation.  Too much pumpkin in a dog’s diet can cause issues.  For example, when there is way too much fibre in the diet, it interferes with the absorption of other nutrients, which puts the dog at risk for deficiencies.   Pumpkin contains a lot of starch (ie calories).   Having too many daily calories coming from a single source can affect the overall balance of other nutrients in the diet.  So, the answer involves “moderation”.

This begs the question of how much pumpkin should a dog get?  Remember that pumpkin is only a supplement to the regular diet.   Always start with the smallest amounts, e.g., one spoonful per day and watch carefully.  Most dogs are able to digest it without issue.  When in doubt, consult a professional. 

What kind of pumpkin?  Plain pumpkin.  Real pumpkin.   Read labels carefully if you’re buying canned pumpkin as most of them have high salt content (bad news for dogs, even healthy ones).  Absolutely do not use pumpkin pie filling as that will contain extra sugar and several spices that most likely will not agree with your dog.  Plain pumpkin is what you need.

Raw or cooked?  Again, the answer = Yes.  If your dog needs some tummy soothing, then cooked & smashed is probably better.  You can mix it with regular food.  However, if you’re just looking for some healthy alternative treats, then small chopped up bits of pumpkin flesh is also fine. 

Can dogs eat pumpkin seeds?   While the answer is technically yes (there is nothing poisonous about pumpkin seeds), whole seeds are not all that digestible.  This means they will (hopefully) pass through the digestive system but with very little nutritional benefit.  If they’re roasted, then also beware all the extra the salt & spices that are put on for human consumption. 

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