Fall is now in full swing, which means coffee shops and restaurants have brought back all of the fall flavors! Pumpkin is always a popular choice, from pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin pie. Maybe you've been curious to know if you can let your dog try out some pumpkin-flavored treats along with you this season. If so, keep reading!
CAN DOGS EAT PUMPKINS?
The answer is yes! You may be surprised to learn that pumpkins are a "superfood" for dogs, meaning they carry a lot of nutrients. Dogs can safely eat both the pulp from pumpkins as well as the seeds. Here are a few specific vitamins and minerals that pumpkins offer:
In addition to these nutrients, pumpkin also offers your dog prebiotics. Prebiotics work to support your dog's digestive system because they support the good bacteria that is in their gut. Pumpkin can also be used to help relieve your dog's diarrhea since it is full of fiber. However, if your dog is experiencing diarrhea, it's important that you get to the root cause of it. You'll want to be able to rule out serious issues such as parvo, which can be a life-threatening disease if left untreated.
ARE THERE NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS TO PUMPKIN?
Too much of anything can lead to negative side effects. Even though pumpkin offers your dog plenty of vitamins and minerals, there can be some downsides to it, especially if you're feeding it to your dog too often or in too large of portions.
The first negative side effect is too much fiber. While some fiber is a good thing, too much can cause your dog to be low in protein and other nutrients.
Another negative side effect is that pumpkin is high in calorie content which, if left unchecked, can lead to your pet becoming overweight.
In addition to this, too much Vitamin A can be toxic for dogs. Therefore, it's important to limit how much pumpkin you are feeding your dog.
WAYS TO ADD PUMPKIN TO YOUR DOG'S DIET
Now that you know the benefits of adding a little bit of pumpkin to your dog's diet, here are some ways that you can do it:
1. Plain Canned Pumpkin
The easiest way to add a little bit of pumpkin to your dog's diet is to feed them a little bit of plain canned pumpkin. Be sure that you're feeding them pure, plain pumpkin rather than pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling contains spices and other ingredients such as xylitol that is toxic to dogs. Plain canned pumpkin does not need to be cooked and can be fed directly to your pup.
2. Fresh Pumpkin
You can also feed your dog fresh pumpkin if you're up to the task! Be sure to first bake the pumpkin until it is soft. Steaming and mashing it up is a good way to make it easy for your dog to eat.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
As mentioned earlier, pumpkin seeds are also safe for dogs to eat. Simply clean off the seeds and roast them in the oven at 350° F for about an hour. Then, grind them up in a food processor to make them easier for your dog to eat (this is a great way to make use of all the seeds you've scooped out of your pumpkin).
4. Mixed Into Other Foods
In addition to feeding plain pumpkin to your dog, you can also mix it into other food. This can be a good way to get your dog used to the flavor if they seem a little hesitant to try something new. You can use canned pumpkin as a topping for their food or mix it right in. You can also bake it into dog treats if you enjoy making your own, as pumpkin makes a good fat substitute.
As always, be sure to consult with your vet before you make any significant changes to your dog's diet and ask them any specific questions you may have. Feeding your dog a bit of pumpkin in the fall can be a fun way for them to get a taste of something new and join in on the fall festivities, but be sure you're doing it safely so that they don't get sick.
Pet Strollers: Why Pet Parents Should Consider a Pet Stroller