Pumpkin For Our Pets – Not Just A Fall Treat!
It’s fall! Time for pumpkins! Pumpkin for everyone—even our pets!
I always knew pumpkin was healthy and good for my dogs (and us!), but I never realized it had SO MANY wonderful benefits! As I started researching the benefits of pumpkin for pets, I was amazed! This stuff is incredible! Keep it on hand – it’s great all year long!
I think I should start eating it too…..
Please Note! These is some generalized information—do your own checking if you are uncertain about something. Also, please consult your veterinarian before giving your pet pumpkin or changing your pet’s diet.
How To Use Pumpkin
First, start slow with small amounts (read further to find out why!)
Never use pumpkin that’s old, or been on display for Halloween—pumpkins can go rancid and grow mold quickly.
Many dogs, and maybe even some cats, love pumpkin, so it can be easily added to food or given as a treat. Both of my dogs love pumpkin and will eat it right off a spoon.
Using Pumpkin – A Variety Of Ways To Choose From
There are a number of different ways you can offer your pet pumpkin—raw straight from the pumpkin, freshly cooked, canned (which is already cooked), freeze-dried, or dehydrated. WOW! If possible, try to use organic.
+ Dogs can eat raw pumpkin as a treat, or pureed with a bit of water or unsalted broth
+ If feeding in pieces, cut the pieces into the appropriate size for your dog.
+ Remove the skin and seeds before feeding.
Fresh Cooked Pumpkin
+ Making your own pumpkin puree takes some effort, but in doing so allows for local (and hopefully organic) sourcing.
+ Pumpkin can be cooked in a variety of ways—steamed, boiled, or roasted
+ Use a small-ish pumpkin, such as a sugar pumpkin. Start by washing the outside, then cut out the stem and the bottom of the pumpkin. Clean out the seeds and inner “guts” and cut your pumpkin into pieces
+ The puree can be frozen for months or kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
To Boil: Fill a pot with enough water to cover the pumpkin, add the pieces and boil for about 30 minutes or until both the skin and inner pumpkin are tender. Carefully remove, let cool and blend/mash (with or without skin) until smooth
To Steam: Place the pumpkin pieces in a large pot with just enough water to steam the pumpkin. Boil for about 30 minutes or until both the pumpkin and the skin are tender. Carefully remove, let cool and blend/mash (with or without skin) until smooth
To Roast: Cut your pumpkin into wedges, and place on a cookie sheet – do not add any seasonings or oil. Roast in about a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until tender. Carefully remove, let cool and blend/mash (with or without skin) until smoot
+ The pumpkin in a can is already cooked and easy to serve. It’s that easy! Keep it covered and refrigerate after opening
+ Be sure to use 100% plain, pure pumpkin – not pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin with anything added to it, such as spices or sugar
+ This is my favorite because it’s easy to use, easy to get pretty much anywhere, I can stock up on it, and my dogs love it!
+ Dehydrated pumpkin is easy to mix into any moist food or can be hydrated with water or other liquid
+ Dehydrated pumpkin is a natural, healthy chew
Make Your Own Dehydrated Pumpkin Chews:
Thinly slice a pumpkin and place the slices in a 125°F oven and bake until dry. Keep an eye on them, it’s a slow process and the amount of time it takes to dehydrate the pieces depends on the size/thickness of the slices. OR…use your dehydrator if you own one!
+ I have seen freeze dried pumpkin available as treats
20 Amazing Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Get ready! This is a looong list!
+ 1 cup of canned pumpkin contains nearly 7 grams of dietary fiber
+ Fresh pumpkin, because it contains more water, has approx. 3 grams of fiber per one cup serving
+ Fiber helps the body in many ways—read on!
+ Because pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber, it can help our pets with both constipation and diarrhea (WHAT??!!) + Pumpkin can help pets with indigestion or upset stomachs
+ Since pumpkin slows digestion, your pet will feel fuller for longer
+ Fiber acts as a prebiotic which stimulates the growth or activity of beneficial bacteria in the intestines, and also inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria
+ Canned pumpkin is a great source of soluble fiber and essential vitamins, which help slow down digestion by absorbing water and adding bulk to the stool, thus helping ease diarrhea
+ Pumpkin can ease constipation due to it’s high fiber and water content
+ Fiber can help constipation by stimulating contraction of the muscles lining the colon (AKA large intestine)
+ Pumpkin naturally increasing the amount of soluble fiber in your dog’s diet which help move things along in a comfortable way. Thus your dog won’t be racing to the grass to use the bathroom
+ Pumpkin is low in calories and fat * Pumpkin has a high moisture and fiber content which will keep your pet feeling full
+ Since pumpkin slows digestion, your pet will feel fuller longer
+ Check out the nutritional information for pumpkin; pumpkin is full of beneficial nutritional vitamins
+ Pumpkin provides a natural source of many beneficial nutrients needed for cellular functions
+ Some of the essential vitamins and minerals found in pumpkin include Vitamin A (beta-carotene), Vitamin C (antioxidant and immune system support), iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and folate
+ Canned pumpkin contains Vitamins A, E, C, potassium, and iron
+ Pumpkin is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene
+ The zinc in pumpkin is beneficial for the skin and coat
+ Antioxidants help destroy free radicals, or “oxidants” in your pet’s system
+ Pumpkin is a wonderful, whole food source of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene
+ Beta-carotene helps slow the aging process and protect your dog’s body as he/she ages
+ While oxidants are a natural part of everyone’s immune system, too many oxidants can contribute to cancers and damage the body
+ The antioxidants in pumpkin are very absorbable and settle in your pet’s cell membranes to fight oxidative damage
+ Boost your pet’s immune system by including pumpkin–a fresh source of antioxidants and Vitamin C, which is integral for immune health
+ Vitamin C helps protect the joints, so it is especially important for aging dogs
+ The antioxidants found in pumpkin, and in the seeds especially, contain Omega 3 fatty acids, and these fatty acids are known to have anti-inflammatory properties
+ Potassium is an electrolyte essential to the body that often works in conjunction with sodium
+ Potassium aids in regulating blood pressure, improving muscle health, and assisting in metabolism to name a few of it’s important functions
+ Vitamin A is found in pumpkin and is vital for eye health
+ Because Vitamin A is fat-soluble, adding a bit of healthy oil will make the nutrients more effective
+ Pumpkins consist of approx. 90% water
+ Pumpkin adds moisture to your pet’s diet
+ Dry dog food/kibbble has a low moisture content, so adding pumpkin will help increase the moisture content which your pet needs
+ Some dogs do not drink enough water, so adding pumpkin to the diet will provide more water easily and naturally
+ Nutrients in pumpkin, including Vitamin A and zinc, improve your pet’s skin and coat * The high moisture content in pumpkin also contributes to healthy skin and coat
+ Pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein and fiber
+ Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and lipids (a beneficial fat for your dog’s diet)
+ The seeds are a great source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene, iron and potassium
+ The omega-3 fatty acids in pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory effects on the body * A few tips on feeding your pet the seeds:
+ Roast the seeds without salt
+ Offer to your pet one at a time and only a few in one setting, as the fat content and fiber could potentially cause softer stools
+ If your pet does not care for pumpkin seeds, grind them up and sprinkle over your pet’s food, but again, be conservative
+ Store pumpkin in a sealed tight bag or container. Pumpkin seeds can spoil and become toxic if they are left out for too long
+ Pumpkin seeds contain essential fatty acids and antioxidants which support urinary function
+ Pumpkin seeds can help treat & prevent conditions such as urinary tract infections, and inhibit the development of kidney & bladder stones (This is not a replacement for seeing your vet!)
+ Pumpkin seeds, specifically pumpkin seed oil and powder, may help dogs who struggle with incontinence or an overactive bladder
+ Regularly including pumpkin in your cat’s diet may help prevent the formation of new furballs
+ Pumpkin’s fiber, which increases the amount of waste in your cat’s digestive tract, helps move furballs through and into the litter box, rather than being regurgitated
+ Some cats may experience decreased colon activity as they age, resulting in constipation. The fiber from pumpkin helps with this
+ Pumpkin/pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid cucurbitacin, which may help to expel some common dog parasites
+ Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are a good preventative measure
+ In addition to gradually introducing a new food, try adding pumpkin to help ease and comfort the digestive tract
+ Pumpkin tastes great! Most, but not all, pets love the taste of pumpkin! Cats may be a bit more challenging…
Portion Size For Pumpkin
+ Ask your vet for guidance on the appropriate portion for your pet
+ The amount of pumpkin to be given will depend on the size of your pet and his/her current health issues
+ Serving size may range from 1 teaspoon once a day, all the way up to 2-4 ounces per meal
I hope you have gotten some good info from this blog!
I’m off to eat some pumpkin with my pups!