Dogs can eat pumpkin, including raw and cooked flesh and seeds, though the messy pulp inside may upset their stomach if they consume too much of it. As with other foods, feed pumpkin in moderation and take caution regarding pumpkin type and storage.
Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs
Pumpkin contains carotenoids, which give the vegetable its deep orange color. These are powerful antioxidants. Pumpkin seeds, in particular, are known for their high antioxidant content and variety. Antioxidant-rich foods can delay the aging process, safeguard eye health, and fight inflammation and its associated disorders.
Pumpkin is rich in vitamins A and C, zinc, and magnesium, among other vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A is essential for eye health, while Vitamin C is well-known for its immune-system-boosting properties. For dogs with joint and mobility issues, the added Vitamin C from pumpkin can be beneficial. Pumpkin's zinc content may help maintain healthy skin and coat. Magnesium is required in every cell of the body and can help to maintain bone, eyesight, and nervous system health.
Pumpkins are a Natural Dewormer
Cucurbitin, an amino acid found in pumpkin seeds, serves to paralyze and expel parasites from your dog's digestive tract. Feed the seeds whole or grind them and mix them in with your food. Once or twice daily, give your dog a quarter teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight until the worms are gone. When you use pumpkin seeds instead of a traditional dewormer, you won't have to worry about dosing issues or side effects like diarrhea, vomiting, or an allergic response. If you suspect a worm infection, consult with your veterinarian to ensure any treatment is successful.
Improving Gut Health
Pumpkin flesh contains a lot of fiber and can help with both diarrhea and constipation. Pumpkin fiber also aids in the feeding of healthy gut flora, which improves intestinal health. Pumpkin absorbs excess moisture and adds weight to your dog's feces, which helps to reduce diarrhea. Pumpkin also has a high water and fiber content, which can help relieve constipation.
All that is required is a small amount of pumpkin if you are using it for digestive purposes. For smaller dogs, start with a couple of teaspoons each day. For larger dogs, 1 or 2 tablespoons may be necessary. Even if diarrhea and constipation aren't a concern, including pumpkin in your dog's daily meal, to help keep their bowel movements regular.
How Much Pumpkin Can Dogs Have?
The MERCK Veterinary Manual recommends giving 1 to 4 tablespoons of pumpkin to your dog. If you have any worries about pumpkin for your dog, or if your dog has an illness, you should consult your veterinarian before introducing it to your dog's diet.
Crushed and ground pumpkin seeds can be added to your dog's food. If you prefer to give them as entire seeds, only feed one seed at a time to avoid any type of choking hazard. In addition, just feed a few pumpkin seeds at a time. Due to the high fat content of pumpkin seeds, they could lead to loose stools if you feed too many at once.
How to Prepare Pumpkin for Your Dog
Never feed pumpkin pie filling to your dog. It's made with sugar and spices, including nutmeg, which aren't beneficial for your dog, and it can be fatal especially if it contains xylitol. Instead, only feed fresh pumpkin or canned organic pumpkin without additives. The American Kennel Club has put together several recipes if you would rather make your own pumpkin dog treats than mix the pumpkin in your dog's food.
Pumpkin seeds, unsalted and plain, are recommended for dogs. Roasting the seeds can help them stay fresh longer without the risk of becoming rancid. Pumpkin seeds can be stored for up to a month after being roasted in the oven.
Keep in mind that if you don't store pumpkin seeds properly, they can become toxic. There are sealed packages available, which have a shelf life of roughly six months if you are looking to have them on hand for a longer period of time.
Consult Your Veterinarian Before Providing Any New Food
Consult your veterinarian for the proper serving size before giving your dog any new foods, including healthy ones like pumpkin. Contact your veterinarian right away if you feel your pet is sick. Always see your family veterinarian for health-related inquiries or a holistic veterinarian if you are taking a more natural approach to your dog's diet, since they can provide the best suggestions for your dog.