Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin?

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Pumpkin season is upon us. Whether you’re preparing delicious treats like pumpkin pie, carving pumpkins with the family, or using pumpkins as decorations inside and outside the home, you might wonder, “Can dogs eat pumpkin?” 

Pumpkin is a superfood safe for dogs that can benefit them in many ways. But, of course, dogs should only consume plain, canned pumpkin to keep them safe. Of course, even though pumpkins are beneficial for dogs, they should only be fed in moderation. In addition, some parts of the pumpkin are not safe for pets. Can dogs eat pumpkin? Yes, but it depends on how it’s prepared. Keep reading to learn more about feeding your dog pumpkin this fall. 

Is It Safe To Give Your Dog Pumpkin?

Like carrots for dogs, feeding your dog pumpkin in moderation is safe and can offer several benefits for dogs with stomach issues. When wondering, “Can dogs eat pumpkin?” remember that not all parts of the pumpkin are safe for dogs. The pumpkin rind is difficult to digest and can cause blockages. In addition, the stem is not safe for dogs because it’s difficult to chew and digest, potentially causing choking or intestinal blockages. 

When feeding your dog pumpkin, they should only eat plain, pureed pumpkin.1 Canned pumpkin is typically the best choice for dogs because it contains higher levels of fiber and nutrients than fresh pumpkin. However, when shopping for canned pumpkin for your dog, look for plain, single-ingredient products. They should not contain added salt, sugar, spices, or other additives that can irritate your dog’s stomach or lead to weight gain and associated health problems like dog diabetes

In addition, your dog should never eat other pumpkin products, like pumpkin pie or pie filling. Pumpkin pie contains additional spices and sugar that can cause GI issues in dogs. In addition, the crust contains butter and fat that can be harmful to dogs with health conditions. Your dog should also never consume raw pumpkin. Although raw pumpkin is relatively safe for dogs, it can cause GI upset. If your dog steals some pumpkin guts when you’re carving with the family, they’re unlikely to experience any severe GI issues, but you should keep any and all pumpkins away from dogs because the skin, stems, and leaves are choking hazards. 

Health Benefits Of Pumpkin For Dogs

Pumpkin is safe, but is pumpkin good for dogs? Pumpkin offers many potential health benefits, including:

Improved Gut health: If your dog eats grass, it may indicate a digestive issue. Pumpkin contains prebiotics that support good bacteria in the digestive tract.2

  • Contains vitamins and minerals: Pumpkin puree for dogs is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E and minerals iron and potassium.2
  • High fiber content: The dog diarrhea pumpkin remedy is well-known among pet parents. Pumpkin is often used as a way to treat constipation and diarrhea in dogs due to its high fiber content. Fiber adds bulk to a dog’s stool to reduce discomfort and other diarrhea-related issues.2 Due to its high fiber content, pumpkin is also a great snack to promote weight management for dogs. Fiber is more difficult to digest, making your dog feel fuller for longer.3 
  • Good for digestion: Thanks to its high fiber content, pumpkin supports digestion in several ways, including producing fatty acids that stimulate water absorption to lower the pH of the large intestine.4 In addition, prebiotics in pumpkin support probiotics for dogs that improve digestion by maintaining or improving the levels of good bacteria in the gut. 

Unfortunately, while pumpkin is safe and even beneficial for dogs, there are some risks associated with feeding it to them. The risks of pumpkin for dogs include:

Additional calories: While pumpkins are not high in calories, adding treats to your dog’s diet can lead to weight gain and other health conditions like diabetes. Treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s diet, so you may have to monitor your dog’s caloric intake on days when you plan to feed them pumpkin. 

  • High sodium: As we’ve mentioned, canned pumpkin puree for dogs is the safest way for them to consume this autumn treat. However, you must always read the ingredients on the can to ensure you’re not feeding your dog added salt. Some canned pumpkin products contain added salt, which can be dangerous to dogs with heart or kidney disease.2
  • Too much fiber: While fiber can improve your dog’s digestion, it can also cause GI issues. Consuming too much fiber can lead to gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea in dogs. Therefore, while pumpkin for dog diarrhea can be effective, it can also lead to diarrhea and other GI issues. Since your dog already gets all the fiber they need through their regular kibble or wet food, there’s no reason to feed them pumpkin for the fiber. Instead, consider giving them a little bit as a food topper when you feel like sharing. 
  • Toxicity: Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A, but too much vitamin A can be dangerous to dogs. Vitamin A toxicity in dogs can cause anorexia, nausea, weakness, tremors, convulsions, and death.5

Pumpkin: How Much Is Too Much?

How often should you feed your dog pumpkin? While pumpkin can be a healthy treat to share with your dog during the holiday festivities, it should only be fed in moderation. Feeding your dog pumpkin regularly means increasing their caloric intake, potentially contributing to weight gain that causes other health conditions, including joint pain. 

In addition, giving your dog too much pumpkin can result in nutritional deficiencies because the fiber keeps them too full to eat their regular dog foods, preventing them from getting all the nutrients they need from their diet.2

Also, too much fiber can cause several other problems, including decreasing the amount of protein and other nutrients your dog absorbs from food and causing GI issues. When you increase your dog’s fiber intake too quickly, they can experience gas, constipation, and diarrhea. 

Depending on your dog’s size, you can add a few tablespoons to their food or let them lick it off a spoon. Of course, start small if this is your dog’s first time eating pumpkin since adding too much pumpkin to their diet can cause GI issues. 

What Kind Of Pumpkin Should I Give My Dog

Dogs should only consume plain pumpkin puree without added sugar, salt, and other ingredients. You can make your own pumpkin puree for dogs or buy canned puree at the grocery store. Fresh pumpkin has lower concentrations of fiber and other nutrients, so if you want to ensure your dog won’t eat too much fiber, you may choose to give them fresh pumpkin puree at home. When feeding your dog pumpkin puree, never add salt, spices, sugar, or other ingredients that can be toxic or irritate your dog’s stomach.4

What To Look For In Canned Pumpkin

Feeding your dog pumpkin is similar to peanut butter for dogs– you should only feed them plain, single-ingredient products from the supermarket. Canned pumpkin is the easiest way to share pumpkin puree with your dog because you won’t have to make it yourself. In addition, it contains more nutrients because it has less water content than fresh pumpkins.4 When shopping for canned pumpkin, look for single-ingredient products made only from pumpkin. In addition, you should never feed your dog pumpkin pie filling because it’s not the same as plain puree and may contain harmful sugar and artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.4 

How To Prepare Pumpkin Puree At Home

If you want to make your dog a special treat at home, you can make your own pumpkin puree. You only need a few items to make pumpkin puree, including:

  • A ripe pumpkin
  • Knife for cutting
  • Spoon for scooping
  • Potato or pumpkin masher

Since you don’t need to make a ton of puree for your dog, consider using a smaller pumpkin intended for eating rather than decoration. When you’re ready with your pumpkin, all you have to do is peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds before slicing it into small chunks. Simmer the pumpkin in boiling water and drain and mash it into a smooth puree paste.2 You can also use a blender if you don’t have a masher handy. 

If you make a large batch to share with your pup throughout the entire season, freeze it to prevent it from going bad. Pumpkin puree stays fresh for a few days in the fridge but can last six months in the freezer.2

What About Pumpkin Seeds And Sweet Potatoes?

Pumpkin seeds are safe for dogs in moderation, so if you drop a few seeds on the floor while carving pumpkins or preparing puree, they shouldn’t harm your dog. However, seeds can be a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockages, especially in small dogs. Unfortunately, dogs don’t digest seeds easily, so they can cause minor GI issues. 

Sweet potatoes, another fall treat, are another safe snack for dogs. They’re low in calories and contain essential vitamins and fiber. Of course, when feeding your dog sweet potato, only give them a small bite, and don’t add any seasonings or sweeteners like sugar or butter. Instead, you can feed your dog a plain, mashed sweet potato as a safe holiday snack. 

Corgi sitting on grass next to pumpkins

Final Notes

Pumpkins are some of the most popular human foods for dogs because they contain fiber that supports healthy digestion. Many vets recommend plain pumpkin puree for dogs experiencing minor GI issues, and since it’s gentle on the stomach, dogs can enjoy this healthy treat even when they’re not feeling well. Of course, dogs don’t need pumpkin as part of their diet since they already get all the essential vitamins and minerals they need from their regular dog food. However, it’s normal for pet parents to want to share some holiday foods with their pets. 

Always talk to a vet before feeding your dog new foods like pumpkin. In addition, don’t try to treat your dog’s stomach issues by feeding them pumpkin without first consulting a vet to diagnose the cause of your dog’s GI issues. Wondering if pumpkin can reduce your dog’s stomach issues or looking for the best food for dogs? Try Dutch today. 

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References

  1. Burke, Anna. “Can Pumpkin Help with Dog Diarrhea?” American Kennel Club, 23 Oct. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/can-pumpkin-help-with-dog-diarrhea/.

  2. “Pumpkin for Dogs: Health Benefits, Harmful Effects, Preparation.” WebMD, https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/can-i-give-dog-pumpkin.

  3. Dixie Sandborn, Michigan State University Extension. “Growing Fruits and Vegetables for Your Dog.” 4-H Companion Animals, 21 Jan. 2022, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/growing-fruits-and-vegetables-for-your-dog.

  4. Burke, Anna. “Can Pumpkin Help with Dog Diarrhea?” American Kennel Club, 23 Oct. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/can-pumpkin-help-with-dog-diarrhea/.

  5. Khan, Safdar A. “Multivitamins and Iron (Toxicity) - Toxicology.” Merck Veterinary Manual, 29 Sept. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/toxicology/toxicities-from-human-drugs/multivitamins-and-iron-toxicity.

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