Is pumpkin good for dogs? Well, it can be, but in some circumstances, pumpkin can be dangerous for dogs to consume. What about canned pumpkin, raw pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie, and homemade pumpkin dog treats? Some pumpkin products are safe for dogs to enjoy and others are not.
Yes, pumpkin is good for dogs depending on the type of product. Pumpkin is a seasonal treat and a year-round staple for many dogs. Since pumpkin is a very moist fruit, it is a good choice for canines who aren’t big water drinkers. However, too much pumpkin can cause problems because it is high in fiber. A large amount of pumpkin can even be toxic to dogs.
Many pet parents add pumpkin to their dog’s diet to help increase their fiber intake, but that can be risky. Patrick Mahaney VMD, CVA, CVJ, told us he recommends dog parents provide fresh pumpkin they cook themselves or canned/pouched pumpkin that does not contain sugar nor artificial sweeteners. Any sugar or sugar substitute could create what Dr. Mahaney calls a “taste deterrent” and potentially cause health problems as well.
Here’s everything you need to know about safely feeding your dog pumpkin products, which ones are safe, which ones to avoid, and which dog pumpkin treats we recommend.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links (Amazon Associate or other programs we participate in). As an affiliate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Is Pumpkin Good For Dogs?
Pumpkin is good for dogs as long as you serve the plain canned variety. Most dogs love the taste of pumpkin and will devour it on its own or mixed in their food. My Cocker Spaniel isn’t a fan of canned pumpkin, but he loves pumpkin dog treats, which I’ll discuss shortly.
Most people feed their dog canned pumpkin because of its high fiber content. Dogs who are constipated may benefit from the addition of canned pumpkin to their diet. Dr. Lisa Freeman of Tufts Clinical Nutrition Service says while dogs don’t require dietary fiber, it can help with health issues like diarrhea, constipation, diabetes, or to help an overweight pet feel fuller.
Dr. Freeman indicates most pet parents in her service give their dogs between 1/4 teaspoon to two tablespoons of pumpkin with meals per day. Their intentions are good, as they want to increase the dog’s fiber intake. However, she says dogs aren’t getting the proper feed nor the right amount.
“If you wanted to give the same amounts to your pet that is found in one popular high fiber therapeutic diet, you’d need to feed more than more than 2-½ cups of pumpkin per day to a cat and nearly 12 cups/day to a medium-sized dog,” she says.
Is Pumpkin Safe For Dogs?
Plain pumpkin packs a whole lot of nutrients and is a filling form of fiber, which is why many dog foods now include pumpkin in their offerings. In most cases, a small offering of canned pumpkin is fine for dogs to consume.
If you want your dog to eat pumpkin, there are many ways to serve it. If you happen to be carving a pumpkin and want to share some raw pumpkin pieces with your dog, it should be fine. It needs to be cleaned first and for many dogs, it serves as a low-calorie treat and a great source of fiber. Most dogs will prefer cooked pumpkin better and most likely digest it better. If you cook the raw pumpkin for dogs, bake or boil it without any seasonings or salt added.
Never give a dog the stem or skin of a pumpkin. If your dog has issues with his kidneys, check with your veterinarian first. We’ll discuss our favorite way of giving pumpkin (pumpkin dog treats) in a bit.
We see recipes, articles, and pumpkin everything online and in stores. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, especially for dogs. Pumpkin contains vitamin A, and too much vitamin A can have a very negative effect on dogs.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “The amount of vitamin A needed to cause toxic effects is 10 to 1,000 times the dietary requirements for most species.” Signs of vitamin A toxicity include nausea, anorexia, general malaise, tremors, convulsions, and yes, a dog can die from it.
Are Pumpkin Seeds For Dogs Safe?
I am of the ilk that anything a dog can choke on or he can swallow whole is something to avoid. I like pumpkin seeds and share life with a foodie (Cocker Spaniel) who would love to share whatever I eat.
Pumpkin seeds will likely come out the back end of a dog the same way they went in. I prefer my pumpkin seeds roasted for human consumption but I don’t share them with my dog because I don’t want him to choke, risk gastric upset, nor allow him to eat salt.
Pumpkin seeds are safe for dogs but plain raw pumpkin seeds can become stale quickly. Cleaning and roasting pumpkin seeds and allowing them to cool is safer. However, dogs can choke on small seeds, which is why I avoid feeding pumpkin seeds in general.
Pumpkin seeds are sometimes touted for their deworming properties, but we prefer tried and true vet-recommended deworming treatments.
Is Pumpkin Good For Dogs With Diarrhea?
At some point in a dog’s life, he will experience a bout of diarrhea. Perhaps the diarrhea is a side effect of medication, from consuming fatty food, or even a case of a nervous stomach or a bug.
Most pet parents have a can of pumpkin on hand for times when a dog has minimal diarrhea that doesn’t require a veterinary visit. Pumpkin is rich in fiber so while it is touted as a quick fix for a dog with diarrhea, it may not actually help due to its fibrous nature. Find out what’s causing your dog’s diarrhea.
I always have a can of Dr. Harvey’s Runs Be Done on hand. Runs Be Done is a blend of pumpkin, slippery elm, apple, pectin, bentonite clay, and other healing herbs that you mix with food based on your dog’s weight. Canned pumpkin tends to go to waste after you use a small amount. I keep Runs Be Done in my kitchen cabinet since it comes in a convenient powder. Get a can of Runs Be Done on Amazon here.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Pumpkin?
Just because a dog can eat raw pumpkin doesn’t mean he should. Dr. Mahaney says that while pumpkin alone is not a dangerous food, raw pumpkin can be. If your dog nibbles on a pumpkin sitting on someone’s porch or in a field perhaps, he can become very sick from the mold or bacteria it contains. Things like vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, or gastric upset may occur.
Although raw pumpkin, including the pulp and seeds, is low in calories and generally safe for dogs to eat, it can be difficult for them to digest. Too much raw pumpkin can lead to vomiting, trembling, pain, and intestinal blockage.
How Much Pumpkin To Give A Dog
Most pet parents wish to share pumpkin with their dog as a tasty treat or to increase their fiber intake. Ironically, it would take an inordinately huge amount of pumpkin in your dog’s diet for your pooch to see a benefit.
In her book, Natural Dog, Dr. Deva Khalsa writes of canned pumpkin, “You can add 1/4 to one cup of this into the dog’s food every day. It is an excellent source of fiber, and it works extremely well to prevent, correct, and counteract constipation.”
Dr. Freeman at Tufts, however, says the amount and type of fiber in pumpkin limits its effectiveness as a fiber source.
While canned pumpkin is only 83 calories per cup, canned pumpkin pie mix is up to 281 calories per cup due to added sugar, which can help to pack on the pounds. Too many calories from pumpkin (anything more than 10% of total calorie intake) can unbalance your pet’s diet. And canned pumpkin without salt contains only 12 milligrams of sodium per cup, but some canned pumpkin brands with salt contain nearly 600 milligrams of sodium per cup!Dr. Lisa Freeman, Tufts Clinical Nutrition Service
Most experts say to start slow and see if your dog likes the taste of pumpkin. The typical amount of canned pumpkin as a treat ranges by dog size and weight. Make sure the can only contains pumpkin and nothing else.
Since plain canned pumpkin is about five calories per tablespoon, start with around one tablespoon for smaller dogs and more for a larger size dog.
Is Pumpkin Pie Bad For Dogs?
Do not give your dog sugary, spicy pie filling. Pumpkin that is suitable for dogs includes cooked, fresh, or the mashed kind from a fresh real pumpkin that you prepare yourself.
You should never give a dog pumpkin pie filling because it is rich in fat, sugar, and other substances that can cause your dog to become very ill. Dogs cannot process spices and additional flavors intended for human consumption.
Unfortunately, many grocery stores sell plain canned pumpkin right next to pumpkin pie mix, and there is a very big difference between the two. Additionally, pumpkin products may contain Xylitol or artificial sweeteners that are deadly to dogs.
Most pumpkin pie fillings and mixes contain nutmeg which contains a toxin called myristicin. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, “If a very large amount of nutmeg is ingested, myristicin toxicity can cause symptoms including hallucinations, disorientation, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, dry mouth, abdominal pain, and possibly seizures. Symptoms can last up to 48 hours. A pet would need to ingest a very large amount of nutmeg, and this is very unlikely to occur if a dog or cat ingests food with nutmeg in it.”
I err on the side of caution and don’t give my dog pumpkin pie, which also contains cinnamon. Again, Pet Poison Helpline says the dose is what makes cinnamon toxic. Large overdoses of the powder or exposure to the essential oil can lead to low blood sugar, liver disease, vomiting, diarrhea and changes in heart rate. Some dogs who are ingesting the powdered spice directly can inhale the spice.”
What Are The Best Pumpkin Dog Treats?
If you are like me and aren’t so savvy in the culinary department or you prefer to purchase treats for your dog, dispense to your pooch in moderation.
Here are some of my favorite pumpkin dog treats you can purchase online:
Made with real pumpkin, cinnamon, and chia (a superfood for dogs), I love the crunchy nature of these pumpkin dog treats that are low-calorie as well. Buy them on Amazon.
Made from rolled oats with pumpkin and cinnamon with no wheat, corn, or soy, I love the soft nature of these pumpkin dog treats. Buy them on Amazon.
Made with real turkey and limited ingredients, these sticks are great for smaller and medium-sized dogs or to break up for indoor doggy brain games.
Don’t Stop Now
Here are some more articles to help keep your dog happy and healthy:
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Do you give your dog anything with pumpkin? Let us know in the comments below.