Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs

beagle in pumpkinAre you looking for a healthy homemade treat for your dog? Rather than spending hours baking homemade dog treats, try feeding your dog pumpkin. Not only is pumpkin easy to come by and to prepare but it will also provide your dog with numerous health benefits.

1.  Health Benefits

Pumpkin is rich in a variety of nutrients and minerals including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, carotenoids, iron, zinc, potassium and Vitamin A. Due to its high fiber and water content, pumpkin can help to treat or prevent constipation in dogs. Pumpkin is also a great food to feed dogs that need to lose weight – it will help your dog feel full but, being low in calories, it will help them on their diet.

If you want your dog to lose weight, Chris Zink, DVM of recommends reducing your pet’s regular food by 25-30% and replacing the kibble with double the missing volume in canned pumpkin. If your dog eats 2 cups of dry dog food per meal, reduce it to 1½ cups of dry and add 1 cup of pumpkin. It is best not to start this endeavor with the full amount of pumpkin.

The best way to introduce pumpkin to your medium to large dog is by the tablespoon and for your small pooch, start with a teaspoon. You can keep adding a teaspoon or tablespoon each day until you reach your goal. This way your pet will enjoy his new treat and his digestive system has a chance to catch up.

2.  Preparing Pumpkin for Dog

The easiest way to offer your dog pumpkin is to use canned pumpkin puree. Even though it is not “fresh,” canned pumpkin puree is still full of valuable vitamins and nutrients and it is easy to mix in with your dog’s food. Simply stir a tablespoon or more of pumpkin in with your dog’s wet kibble.

You can also use the pumpkin as a frozen treat by freezing it in ice cube trays or shallow muffin trays.  Once frozen, the treats can be kept in a bag in the freezer, ready for handing out.

If you have a fresh pumpkin, you can cut the interior of the pumpkin into small chunks and roast them in the oven. Now there’s a treat for both dogs and their people.

You can also make pumpkin jerky by cutting thin slices of pumpkin and drying them in a dehydrator. Give your pumpkin slices a quick dip in lemon juice before dehydrating to keep them looking and tasting better.

3.  Precautions

When buying pumpkin puree for your dog it is important that you select a product that is 100% pumpkin, not a mix for pumpkin pie. The cans are often similar in design.

If you are sharing your pumpkin dish with your pet, make sure you limit the amount of sugar, spices and salt in the dish.

In addition to feeding your dog pumpkin puree you can also offer him pumpkin seeds. To do so, roast the seeds yourself without salt then grind them and add them to your dog’s food.