Fall season is here and pumpkins of all sizes and colors are now available. If you love cooking pumpkin for yourself, family and friends and if you’re a dog owner, sooner or later you’ll wonder: is pumpkin healthy for my dog? What are the benefits of pumpkin for my dog? And if so, how should I prepare it?
Pumpkins are one of the oldest domesticated plants, widely used in our diet and across the globe, and in 2020 alone, over 28 million tonnes were produced across the world.
Pumpkin is a superfood for dogs
Just like bananas, blueberries, oats and coconut for example, pumpkin also belongs to the group of the so-called superfoods. These are nutrient dense foods, with a variety of health benefits for both humans and dogs.
Health benefits of Pumpkins for dogs
Although there are over 800 species of pumpkins and these can vary their nutritional profile, in general:
1. Pumpkins are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. They contain:
a. Vitamin A - essential for dog’s eye health, cell functioning, immune function, and growth.
b. Vitamin B9 (folate)- important in blood formation, healthy immune function, cell division and tissue growth.
c. Vitamin C - that functions as an antioxidant, essential for dog’s vascular and eye health.
d. Vitamin E - also an antioxidant that protects the cell’s integrity preventing their damage.
Pumpkins are also rich in a variety of minerals, being potassium, the most abundant in the pumpkin’s pulp, that contributes to a dog’s healthy nervous system.
2. Pumpkins contain a high amount of soluble fiber, as well as prebiotics (compounds that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your dog’s gut and help strengthen their digestive tract) that together will contribute to a healthy digestive system and well formed dog stools.
How to prepare pumpkin for dogs
We recommend mainly 2 ways:
a. Baked in the oven until fork tender. Just like in our own food, when you bake (instead of boiling), you’ll concentrate the flavors of the ingredients in a more intense way. You may also consider adding a splash of olive oil before baking. Method: Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut in small subes. Bake in the oven until fork tender, let it cool down and serve in small cubes (small enough for your dog to be able to chew but not too small that they’ll automatically swallow and could represent a choking hazard).
b. Pureed. In this case, you could prepare the pumpkin as in the example above but instead of putting it in the oven, boil it in water (enough to cover) until the pumpkin is tender. Then let it cool down and it is ready to serve to your pup.
We highly recommend you avoid canned pumpkin as it will usually contain high levels of sodium as well as other additives that can have a negative effect on your dog’s health.
How much should I give my dog?
When trying new ingredients, we always recommended a slow and observational approach. In the case of pumpkin, start by giving one tablespoon, alone or in combination with their food and see how your pup reacts (in terms of digestion and stool consistency). Depending on your dog’s size, you could increase to up to 4 tablespoons per meal and per day.
Are there any contraindications of pumpkins for dogs?
Like for any other food ingredient, too much of a healthy ingredient can turn out to have detrimental effects, and pumpkin is no exception. Pumpkins are high in calories and could contribute to dog obesity, especially for dogs that don’t exercise. The high content of fiber can also have a negative effect if given in high amounts, as it may lead to a decreased absorption of other important nutrients.
Don’t have the time to cook but still interested in a nutritious treat?
By now we know of the many benefits of pumpkin for dog, and we’ve got you covered. Our range of organic dog treats offers exactly that: a highly nutritious and easy to digest complement to our dog’s diet. There’s a reason why we’re the only dog food brand in the world to have received the Swiss Vitamin Institute label. Check out two of our bestsellers and invite your pup to a nutritious, freshly baked treat.