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Pumpkins may be all the rage during the autumn months, but they’re good for your dog all year long. A canine superfood, the health benefits of pumpkin for dogs are many. Best known as a digestive system-booster, pumpkins are also loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your furry BFF from head to toe.
Read on to find out why pumpkin is good for dogs.
Pumpkins are most well-known for their beneficial effects on dogs with upset stomachs and diarrhea. But pumpkin is equally as good for dogs dealing with constipation.
It’s the high fiber content in pumpkins that makes them so great for dogs with diarrhea. It doesn’t fix whatever might be causing the problem but it adds bulk to your dog’s stool. Greater bulk equals less diarrhea.
In constipated dogs, the fiber pulls water into the colon. This softens the stool, making it easier for your dog to relieve himself.
Part of what makes pumpkin such a powerhouse for your dog’s digestive system is its tie to prebiotics. Prebiotics are the nutrients the probiotics, or “good” bacteria, in your dog’s gut feeds on.
Here's how it works. During the digestive process, the fiber in the pumpkin ferments. The result is a soupy mix of prebiotics that feed the probiotics in your dog's gut. The more probiotics your dog has in his gut, the stronger and healthier his digestive health is.
Learn more about the importance of your dog’s gut health.
Pumpkin seeds have their own unique benefit for dogs. They’re antiparasitic thanks to an amino acid called cucurbitacin.
A 2016 study found that giving cucurbitacin (in an ethanol extract format) to mice with roundworms had a negative effect on the survival of some types of roundworm larvae. Researchers concluded that “Pumpkin seed extracts may be used to control of Gastrointestinal (G.I.) nematode infections.”
The best way to feed pumpkin seeds to your dog is to grind them up and add to pureed pumpkin. Or, use pumpkin seed oil.
Aside from pumpkin’s digestive system superpowers, it’s also great for your dog’s total immune system health. Pumpkin is packed with Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as minerals including iron and potassium.
Plus, it’s got plenty of carotenoids, like beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and lutein, some of which are also antioxidants.
(Learn more about the importance of lutein for dogs.)
As a result, the benefits of pumpkin for dogs include stronger eye health and an immune system better able to fight off infection and sickness.
Too much of almost anything, even the healthiest foods, can be dangerous. And that includes pumpkins.
First, you should only give your dog plain pumpkin. You can buy plain canned pumpkin or boil and puree it yourself. Never give your dog pumpkin pie filling out of a can. Canned pumpkin pie filling has spices and sugar that can hurt your dog.
Alternatively, a supplement with pumpkin as an ingredient is an easy way to introduce it into your dog’s diet.
As mentioned above, boosting your dog’s fiber intake can help with his digestive health. But too much fiber can be detrimental. When your dog has too much fiber in his system it blocks his ability to absorb protein and other nutrients from the food he eats. In extreme cases, this can lead to nutritional deficiencies that make him vulnerable to a variety of illnesses.
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care’s supplements, like the Complete Probiotic (with pumpkin), comes in five sizes so you always know you’re getting the right amount for your dog. Pick the size that corresponds with your dog’s weight and you’ll never need to worry that you’re giving him too much.
Discover more superfoods for dogs.
Whenever a dog has diarrhea, I fast one meal and give pumpkin the next one or two and then start reintroducing kibble. So far in 25 years, it has worked every time.