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As a pet parent, you care a lot about what your dog eats, and you have a good idea of what they can and can't snack on. But what about pumpkin? You may have heard both good and bad things about pumpkin — such as using canned pumpkin for dog diarrhea or avoiding pumpkin spice — but what's the overall consensus? Can dogs eat pumpkin? Read on to learn more about whether pumpkin is safe to introduce to your pet's diet and the best ways to feed pumpkin to your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin?
The short answer is yes, dogs can eat pumpkin. In fact, if prepared correctly, pumpkin can be a beneficial addition to your pet's diet. It's naturally rich in fiber as well as vitamins A, C, and E and minerals like potassium and iron. You can access pumpkins seasonally when they're available or year round by purchasing canned pumpkin.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), "Pumpkin can ease digestion in several ways. The soluble fiber content in pumpkin adds bulk to your dog's stool by absorbing water." They continue, "Fiber also acts as a prebiotic. ... They stimulate the growth or activity of these beneficial bacteria in the intestines and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. Fiber does this by lowering the pH level and providing the necessary nutrients these bacteria need."
As you can see, fiber is a great addition to your dog's diet, but it's very important to talk with your veterinarian before making any dietary changes. Canned pumpkin alone is not sufficient for a high-fiber therapeutic diet, and even if it's just a small part of your dog's meal plan, your vet should be the one to tell you how much pumpkin to feed them. When it comes to what your dog eats, a properly balanced meal is the most important thing. In fact, pumpkin might be an ingredient in some commercial pet foods. Most dogs can get the adequate nutrients they need to live a happy, healthy life with a properly balanced dog food, which is why it's best to consult with your vet before introducing anything new.
Pumpkin may also help your dog if they're suffering from diarrhea. Your veterinarian may recommend adding one to four tablespoons of pumpkin into your dog's meal if they have diarrhea. If your dog is having chronic diarrhea, it is best to go ahead and bring them into the vet as diarrhea maybe a sign of a larger clinical issue.
What Form of Pumpkin Can Dogs Eat?
Once you and your vet have determined that pumpkin is a healthy addition to your pet's diet, it's time to think about how to best serve it to your dog.
Dogs can consume canned pumpkin when they're dealing with diarrhea, or they can also eat the raw or cooked flesh of a fresh pumpkin simply for its nutritional benefits. If it's fresh, you can steam it, bake sliced chunks, purée it or follow these tips when making your own safe dog biscuits. You can also freeze pumpkin for later if you have too much to use at once. The pumpkin "guts" are also edible, but make sure the pumpkin is fresh. Rotting pumpkin can make your pet sick if consumed.
Pumpkin seeds are another potential treat for your dog, although they're higher in fat content. If you choose to feed them to your pet, consider roasting them — without any additional salt, seasonings or spices — and feed them sparingly with only a few seeds in a serving.
Keep in mind, there are pumpkin products that your pet should never consume. For example, never feed your dog pumpkin pie filling — which may be confused for canned pumpkin — as it may contain xylitol and other spices that can be extremely harmful to your pet. In addition, your pet shouldn't eat any of the pumpkin imitation products that have become so popular recently, such as pumpkin spiced cookies or creamers.
There's no need to wonder if dogs can eat pumpkin anymore. Now you know what type of pumpkin products are healthy for your pet and how to feed pumpkin safely to your dog.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. She's written hundreds of articles about the health and behavior of dogs and cats, and believes there will always be more to learn about our furry friends.