One thing everyone can agree on in Fall is pumpkin. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie—it’s everywhere, and chances are, you can agree that something pumpkin flavored is delicious. Can our dogs and cats enjoy the wonder that is pumpkin this season right along with us?
Of course they can! Natural pumpkin (either the kind you cook yourself, or unsweetened cans of pumpkin—not pumpkin pie mix) can be a great treat for your dog (or cat!). Chocked full of vitamins, fiber, potassium, zinc, iron, and magnesium, pumpkin is a great—and healthy—treat this season for your furry friends.
Digestion and Diet
Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, which can help your furry pals with either constipation or a bout of diarrhea. Increased dietary fiber adds bulk to stool, which in turn stimulates the colon wall and helps move stool through your pet. The additional fiber also absorbs excess water in stool. My dogs have always been excited to see some pumpkin mixed in with their kibble, though cats may be a bit more finicky. Try offering it in small portions to let her investigate the new treat, or you can try mixing it in with a bit of canned food.
Tasty for your pet, while low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol, pumpkin also adds some great nutrition to your pet’s diet, with very few calories. Fiber helps promote the feeling of fullness, and removing a little bit of kibble and adding in a little unsweetened pumpkin can aid your pet’s weight loss efforts. It won’t hurt to add a little to each meal, but as with any dietary change, you should always discuss any questions with your veterinarian.
And don’t forget about the seeds, which—raw or baked—provide omega 3 fatty acids, and play an important role in skin and hair health, as well as contribute to joint health and inflammation control. Too many can cause diarrhea though, so go easy on pumpkin seeds as a treat. One to a few each day, depending on the size of your dog (about one a day for cats) is likely sufficient. The seeds can also be ground and added to your pet’s regular meal.
If your pets loves crunchy treats, do a quick online search for “homemade pumpkin dog (or cat) treats” and see what turns up. Just make sure your recipes don’t call for chocolate, which is toxic to dogs (but carob is a great alternative). Your veterinarian will be able to check over your recipe’s ingredients if you have any questions.
You can also simply add some pureed, unsweetened pumpkin to your favorite treat recipe.
If you have some unsweetened pumpkin left over, pipe it into tablespoon size balls and set your plate in the freezer. Once frozen, dump them into a bag and you’ll have bite-size treats ready for Fido anytime. (Bonus—frozen pumpkin will keep much longer than refrigerated pumpkin!)
Unsweetened canned pumpkin, fresh pumpkin, and pumpkin seeds are all safe and healthy treats for your dogs, and cats, this season. So feel free to partake—it’s one nutritious, seasonal treat your pet can safely enjoy with the whole family!
By Rachel Leisemann Immel