Pumpkin is so versatile. Apart from making a jack-o’-lantern at Halloween, it can be made into pretty much anything edible! With pumpkin being such a staple for so many, it’s no wonder you might want to feed it to your pup.
You should always do your research and talk to your veterinarian before giving your pup anything different to eat. Dogs can’t always have all the same things that we enjoy, and some human foods are toxic to them. Some “human foods” are safe, and some foods can make an excellent treat for your pup.
The good news, though, is that dogs can eat pumpkin, as long as it’s in moderation. We’ve got a guide to everything you’ll need to know about feeding pumpkin to your canine companion.
Is Pumpkin Safe For Dogs?
Yes! Pumpkin is not only safe for dogs to eat but can be a nutritious addition to their diet. Another bonus is that most pups enjoy eating it. It can be used as an added bonus to firm up your dog’s stool, especially if they have loose or watery stools.
It can actually also be used to treat constipation due to the higher water content, as long as your pup isn’t sensitive to it. As always, you’ll want to start off with small amounts to make sure your dog doesn’t have any food sensitivities you may not be aware of.
Pumpkin has several nutrients that your pooch needs to keep healthy. Vitamins A & C (as well as other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts), fiber, and water are packed into this yummy squash. Plus, it’s low fat. Your dog needs these essential nutrients for:
- Gut health
- Diabetes prevention
- Weight control
- Eye health
- Immune system support
- Kidney and bladder health
- Bones and joint support
So, pumpkin sounds like a superfood, right? We know that humans can benefit from eating pumpkin. But when it comes to our precious pups, while we know it’s not toxic, and we know there are some bits that we shouldn’t give to our dogs (more on that later), we don’t yet know if dogs can absorb all the nutrients from pumpkin.
Since there’s a chance that dogs can benefit from eating pumpkin, we say go ahead, as long as it’s fed as part of a fully balanced diet. Talking to your veterinarian first is a good idea. They’ll tell you if feeding pumpkin is safe for your dog’s nutritional needs, and they’ll be there if your pup has any problems after eating pumpkin.
Feeding Pumpkin To Dogs
If you’ve decided that you want to feed Fido some pumpkin, there are a few steps you’ll want to take. Freshly cooked pumpkin is best, which means you’ll want to cook and clean it before letting Fido have some added to his food bowl. Let’s take a look at what you can expect when you start to introduce pumpkin into your pup’s diet.
How Do I Cook Pumpkin For Dogs?
Cooked fresh pumpkin is better than raw, which is hard for dogs to digest. Remove the skin and stem before feeding or cooking. Roasting fresh pumpkin in the oven makes it nice and soft but remember to always leave it unseasoned. Fresh cooked or canned pumpkin can be eaten warm or cold.
If you want to take the hard work out of pumpkin prep, buy it canned! Just make sure it’s plain pumpkin puree and not a pie mix. Canned pumpkin is convenient and equally nutritious!
Take care to discard cans safely, as dogs are experts at raiding the trash. The sharp edges are dangerous and can cause lacerations and bleeding to their tongue, gums, and lips.
How Much Can My Dog Eat?
A portion of pumpkin for a dog is 1-4 tablespoons, depending on their size. When giving pumpkin for the first time, start with a small amount (one tablespoon or half a tablespoon if your dog is under 10 pounds). You can increase the amount after a few days. If your pup is unwell after feeding them pumpkin, don’t give him any more and speak to your veterinarian for advice.
How Often Can My Dog Eat It?
Your dog can have pumpkin every day as long as they have a balanced diet. Ask your veterinarian if it’s ok before adding pumpkin to their food. You want to make sure that they aren’t going overboard and eating more than their stomach can handle, which many dogs do.
Can Pumpkin Be Bad For Dogs?
Before feeding pumpkin for the first time, you’ll want to know if there are any dangers. There’s always a risk that changing your dog’s diet could make them sick, so make any changes slowly and under the guidance of your veterinarian. When it comes to pumpkin, be careful of:
- Home-cooked diets
- Too much pumpkin
- Particular preparations of pumpkin
Creating a delicious home-prepared meal for your pup sounds great, but it’s hard to get right. 95% of home-cooked diets are deficient in at least one essential nutrient. You have to be really careful not to feed your pup too much of one thing and not enough of another, as this can make him sick. It’s a big responsibility for any pet parent. So always get your veterinarian involved if you want to create a bespoke diet.
Too Much Pumpkin
Vitamin A toxicity is rare but possible if dogs have too much in their diet. Too much vitamin A affects the health of bones and joints. If they are damaged, your pooch can get arthritis—a painful and irreversible condition. Stomach upsets, blood disorders, and liver disease are also a possibility.
Fiber keeps your canine companion pooping normally, but too much fiber upsets their gut—an unhappy gut results in vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. If you’re feeding pumpkin for the first time, start with just a tiny amount (0.5-1 tablespoon) and watch for symptoms of stomach upset.
While pumpkin can be added to almost anything, and dogs can eat it, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s suddenly safe for your pup to eat any foodstuff containing pumpkin. Some of our favorite seasonal foods can actually harm our pooches, so it’s best to avoid giving all pumpkin-flavored treats to your pup. Why? Let’s discuss some popular examples:
- Pumpkin spice
- Pumpkin bread
- Pumpkin pie (incl. canned pumpkin pie mix)
- pumpkin and pumpkin spice beverages
- Sugar-free pumpkin products
This warming mix of spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, allspice) is often used to flavor our favorite pumpkin dishes. But take care when using spices around your dog.
Nutmeg can cause heart and blood pressure problems, trembling, seizures, confusion, and stomach ache. While cinnamon can cause low blood sugar, stomach upset, breathing problems, and liver and heart problems. Once mixed with food, a small amount is unlikely to cause major issues apart from vomiting or diarrhea.
It’s the sugar and fats in pumpkin bread that make it one to avoid. Too much of either in your pup’s diet can cause weight gain, pancreatitis, heart disease, diabetes, gut issues, and arthritis. If you’re keen to make bread at home, keep some of the pumpkin pulp aside for your pooch before mixing it with the other ingredients. This will keep both of you happy.
Pumpkin pie, and canned pie mix, are even worse than pumpkin bread, so you might see more severe problems. Like pumpkin bread, the sugar, fats, and spices in pumpkin pie are a bad choice for any dog. Dogs can get vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach ache after eating pie. Sugar is bad for your dog’s teeth and gums. If you aren’t practicing proper dental health with your pup at home, it can cause tooth decay.
Pumpkin Flavored Beverages (ex: beers, coffees)
Never allow a dog to drink alcohol. The effects are even more severe than they are in us—even a small amount can be poisonous to dogs. The symptoms of alcohol toxicity are what you would expect—vomiting, drowsiness, incoordination, dehydration, or collapse.
Caffeinated drinks can cause heart problems, agitation, tremors, high body temperature, and seizures if a dog drinks a lot. Your dog should see a veterinarian if they are unwell after having access to alcohol or caffeine.
Some sugar-free products contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol, which can be fatal to dogs if eaten. Xylitol causes a dog’s blood sugar to drop to dangerous levels, lethargy, trembling, incoordination, seizures, coma, and death. Check all the ingredients before offering human food to your pup. If you think your dog has eaten food with xylitol in it, you need to call your veterinarian right away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Your pup can eat pumpkin as long as it is given as part of a balanced diet. Fresh-cooked pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree is the safest and most nutritious way to feed pumpkin to your pooch. Avoid giving your dog treats with spices, sugar, and fats, such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and drinks, as these can cause illness. Ask your veterinarian before changing any part of their diet to keep them happy and healthy.