Whenever I sit down to have a piece of pumpkin pie or pumpkin treat, my dog stares up at me with his big beautiful eyes, so I decided to find out if dogs can eat pumpkin or if it’s dangerous for them to consume. Not all pumpkin products are created equal, and there’s a whole boatload of pumpkin products on the market including canned pumpkin, raw pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin pie. So exactly what type of pumpkin treats and goodies can dogs consume?
Pumpkin is a seasonal treat and a year-round staple for many dogs, but there some dangers involved with feeding pumpkin to your dog. Yes, dogs can eat pumpkin and it is safe for dogs to eat depending on the type. 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.
Since pumpkin is a very moist fruit, this is a good choice for dogs who aren’t big water drinkers. However, too much pumpkin can cause problems. Like people, each dog’s digestive system is unique, so while some dogs can tolerate a tablespoon of canned pumpkin now and then, others cannot. In this article, I’ll dispel some myths, go inside the great pumpkin, and share a Fi-dose of Reality when it comes to dogs and pumpkin consumption.
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Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin?
Dogs can eat pumpkin products, but not all of them. 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.
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.
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.
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
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.
Is Canned Pumpkin Safe For A Dog 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.
Many dog moms and dads have a can of pumpkin on hand for times when a dog has minimal diarrhea that doesn’t require 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.
How Much Pumpkin Can I Feed My 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.
According to Dr. Lisa Freeman, head of veterinary nutrition at Tufts University, “The miniscule amount and type of fiber in pumpkin usually limit its effectiveness as a fiber source. But pumpkin also can contain ingredients that undermine a pet’s health.”
Most people will give anywhere from a ¼-teaspoon a day to 2 tablespoons a day, depending on the dog’s size and weight. Dr. Freeman says, “By adding a lot of fiber from pumpkin you may accidentally decrease how much protein and other nutrients your pet can absorb from their food, putting them at risk for deficiencies.”
Too much of a good thing is never a good thing, so start slow. 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.
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 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?
One of our favorite DIY pet bloggers is Kol’s Notes. We know she does her research and crafts recipes with safety of dogs in mind. Peruse her 40+ fall flavored dog treats you can make at home.
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:
Einstein Pets Pumpkin Time Treats: 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. Click to buy them on Amazon.
K9 Granola Factory Pumpkin Pie Soft Bakes: Made from rolled oats with pumpkin and cinnamon with no wheat, corn, or soy, I love the soft nature of these pumpkin dog treats. Click here to buy yours on Amazon.
Plato Mini Thinkers Pumpkin and Turkey Sticks: 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. Click to purchase a bag on Amazon.
Don’t Stop Now
Here are some more articles to help keep your dog happy and healthy:
Bark Back At Us
Do you give your dog anything with pumpkin? Let us know in the comments below.