Have you ever wondered what vegetables your dog can eat? After all, you might be thinking about your favorite autumn recipes and asking yourself questions like, "Can dogs eat squash?" Of course, if you're anything like us, you're probably wondering about everyone's favorite seasonal flavor: pumpkin!
From the pumpkin spice lattes we love sipping to the pumpkin pies we bake for Thanksgiving (and not to mention the beautiful pumpkin carvings we put on our porches come Halloween), the versatile gourd is difficult to avoid this time of year — both for ourselves and our precocious pups. This is especially true if you happen to have a dog who loves getting into things he shouldn’t (and who eats everything he can find). Chances are, that pup will probably try eating the jack-o-lantern you've got out on your front yard. Although you really shouldn't let your dog chow on any organic decor that has been sitting out due to the icky bacteria growing on it, there’s no need to freak out if your dog does happen to take a bite of a spooky carved pumpkin. According to the ASPCA, you should be more worried about your pet knocking over any flames you’ve left inside a glowing jack-o-lantern. Otherwise, the worst that could happen is getting a minor upset stomach, so be sure to monitor them closely for signs they might need to see a veterinarian.
Can dogs eat pumpkin?
The American Kennel Club says that fresh and canned pumpkin are both tasty treats that are actually good for your pet's health. In fact, pumpkins and dogs make a pretty great combination! Pumpkins are packed with plenty of nutrients and fiber, and they also have beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and C, which are all good things for your pooch. Fresh pumpkin works well, but canned pumpkin for dogs ($36.91 for a pack of 12, Amazon) is actually better thanks to its lower water content.
However, make sure to stay away from canned pumpkin with any added flavoring, like the kind you might use to make a pumpkin pie. Flavored pumpkin may contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can be toxic for dogs. Even if the flavored pumpkin you find skips the xylitol, any added sugar, spices, or salts could potentially irritate your dog's stomach.
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The fiber in pumpkin flesh helps normalize digestion, which can make your dog feel fuller after their normal dinner. If you have a dog who's always sniffing around for seconds, pumpkin may help them feel more satisfied after eating. Vitamin A is good for your dog's vision, while vitamin C can boost your dog's immune system the same way that it boosts yours. Many dog owners also suggest that adding pumpkin to a dog's diet improves their coat and skin, and that the oils in pumpkin seeds can help normalize a dog's urinary health.
Pumpkin is also good for dogs with diarrhea, as all that fiber can help slow things down in there. Similarly, that same fiber is good for constipated pups. However, if your dog's upset tummy continues, there may be other underlying causes, so schedule a visit with your vet to make sure everything's OK.
How much pumpkin should I give my dog?
The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends giving your dog about one to four tablespoons of pumpkin per meal. Be careful not to give them more than that on a regular basis, though. Like xylitol, consuming too much vitamin A can be harmful to your furry friend. Instead, try to use it only in cases where your dog is dealing with constipation, diarrhea, or other tummy troubles. All that fiber in the pumpkin’s flesh can help slow things down or clear things up, depending on what their symptoms happen to be. However, if your dog's upset tummy continues, there may be other underlying causes. If they’re not feeling sick, you can also space some dollops out as a yummy treat.
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You might also want to consider giving your dogs pumpkin seeds. However, make sure you’re never simply giving them whole ones: The pooch might choke on the small, pointy pieces. That said, you can roast and grind up the seeds to sprinkle over your pet's dinner for an extra boost of fiber. Pumpkin seeds also have the amino acid cucurbitin, which can paralyze tapeworms and other intestinal parasites.
So, when it comes to feeding your dog pumpkin, the answer is simple: In moderation, the gourd can be a tasty and healthy treat, so go ahead. Your dog will love you even more!