Pumpkins are traditionally associated with Halloween. This tradition actually hankers back to the Celts who created large bonfires to prepare themselves for winter. Unfortunately, they believed evil spirits were near.
To scare them away they carved faces into large turnips. The tradition was carried on by the immigrants arriving in America. The difference was an abundant supply of pumpkins made them the obvious replacement for pumpkins!
Today they are as popular for the Halloween tradition as they are by those that eat them. The problem is that this tradition generally leaves you with a large amount of pumpkin and a question regarding what to do with it
Hence, people started to wonder if it was safe to use pumpkins for dogs.
The Benefits Of Pumpkin For Dogs
The short, and beneficial answer is yes! The pumpkin is a good addition to your dog’s diet. It’s safe for a dog or cat, and feeding your dog pumpkin has an array of health benefits. Essentially providing pet parents with the ultimate justification for addition to your dog’s diet.
Pumpkin is a rich food full of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin A, also known as beta carotene. This can benefit eye health in dogs, (and humans). It is also full of potassium which is good at regulating blood pressure, boosting their metabolism, and maintains muscle health.
Additionally, pumpkins are good sources of fiber content which can help with bowel regularity and eliminate constipation or diarrhea. Which is useful to know when your dog is not performing properly or has an upset stomach. It’s bizarre but true that pumpkin can cure both diarrhea and constipation. This is because it adds bulk to loose stools and increases the water content in your dog to resolve constipation issues.
The soluble fiber also helps to keep your dog feeling full, eliminating overeating issues, or helping with weight loss. Additionally, this substance is beneficial for their digestive tract.
Fatty acids, along with vitamins C and E, are known to improve the immune system in cats and dogs. There are antioxidants present that can reduce the likelihood of your dog getting a variety of diseases. This includes cancer.
Vitamin A plays another role in your dog’s health. Alongside the zinc in pumpkins it will actually improve the look and feel of your dog’s coat. Add a grooming brush to your collection and the combination will give your dog the best coat you have ever seen!
The reason is that your dog is effectively consuming a large amount of nutrient-rich water, reducing skin flaking, and improving the shine. That means less hair on your carpet to be cleaned daily. You may even want to start blow-drying your dog’s hair!
Prevents Urinary Incontinence
The flesh of a pumpkin is not the only thing that you and your dog can eat. Let them have some of the seeds as these are rich in antioxidants that help to prevent cancer developing. They also contain Omega 3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory, which aid in dealing with kidney stones in dogs. Alongside this the fatty acids can help the urinary system to work properly, preventing the development of urinary incontinence or urinary tract issues.
If you have ever had a dog with urinary incontinence you will understand the frustration of having to take them outside for the toilet every hour.
Several parasites can cause discomfort or serious illness in dogs. One of the most common ones is tapeworm which stays in the intestine. It absorbs the nutrients that the dog should be getting.
The result is weight loss, dry skin, a rough-looking coat, and a tired dog. Fortunately, pumpkin is high in the amino acid cucurbitacin, this is naturally toxic to most parasites, including tapeworms.
The worms are likely to be expelled within a day or two, however, although pumpkin is effective it should not replace your normal preventative treatment regime.
It probably will not be surprising to find that pumpkin, which is full of water, actually hydrates your dog. This makes it a great addition to any dry dog food which is generally low in moisture. As dogs often do not drink when they should, finding ways to boost their hydration levels is important, consuming pumpkin is an effective way of rectifying dehydration issues.
It Tastes Good
Finally, it’s worth noting that pumpkin tastes good. It’s the perfect treat to go alongside your clicker training and make sure your dog knows it has performed well. Improving your dog’s health can be difficult when dogs will not generally eat healthy items because they do not suit their palette. That is not an issue with pumpkin because it tastes great, making it one of the best dog treats available.
Additional Points To Note About Pumpkin For Dogs
Fresh pumpkin is beneficial but it has higher water content than canned pumpkin and the nutritional values are the same. This makes plain canned pumpkin, aka unsweetened pumpkin the best choice. Do not choose pumpkin pie filling as this has an array of additives that will not be beneficial for your dog.
Pureed pumpkin and fresh pumpkin carry the same level of nutrients. However, cooked pumpkin has a lower level of nutrients making it less beneficial for your dog’s health. It does not become unhealthy. But the cooking process kills some of the nutrients, it is better to use it raw.
Pumpkin is great for their health but, as with all things, balance is the key. Your dog should have no more than 1tsp of canned unsweetened pumpkin per 10kg of body weight. That’s assuming they do not have an existing health condition. If this is the case you will need to speak to your vet first to establish the best possible dose.
You should also note that the pumpkin seeds have a high-fat content. Let your dog have them in moderation. Especially if you are trying to use pumpkin for dogs to help them lose weight.
To administer the pumpkin you can simply add it to their food bowl with their meal or you can purchase pumpkin treats and use them as training aids. If you opt for this you can also put pureed pumpkin into ice cube trays and freeze it. This enables you to give your dog a healthy and fun treat whenever you want. Just be sure that the pumpkin is pure, you want to improve your dog’s health via pet foods, not make it worse.
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