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The Bewitching Powers and Dangers of Pumpkin for Dogs

Behold the pumpkin: It’s a seasonal treat and a year-round staple for many folks, but there are both powers and dangers of pumpkin for dogs. Here, we dispel some myths, go inside the great pumpkin, and share a Fi-dose of Reality when it comes to dogs and pumpkin consumption.

The Bewitching Powers and Dangers of Pumpkin for Dogs

Pumpkin: Canned or Real Deal?

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.

Pumpkin for Digestive Health

When my previous Cocker Spaniel experienced a flare up of irritable bowel disease, I occasionally would add a tablespoon of canned natural pumpkin to her meal. Before mixing it in and potentially seeing your dog turn his or her nose up at it, allow your dog to sniff and taste at the canned natural pumpkin. If your pooch isn’t into it, you’ll know ahead of time. For my dog, her indigestion responded well to the pumpkin now and then. Since IBS caused her stomach lining to become inflamed, the pumpkin seemed to help in cooling that process every now and again. Other times, it did nothing, but the disease was progressing.

We got to the point that adding a small amount of pumpkin to her diet would actually cause diarrhea, For dogs who enjoy the taste of pumpkin, dog parents should find a balance between stomach upset and smooth sailing in the bowel movement arena.

Natural canned pumpkin is rich in fiber, so proceed with caution in how much and how often you feed your dog.

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. Use discretion and monitor your dog’s fecal output and consistency. Powers and Dangers of Pumpkin for Dogs

Too Much Pumpkin Can Harm Your Dog

We see recipes, articles, and pumpkin everything this time of year. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, especially for dogs. Pumpkin contains Vitamin A: 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 died from it.

What About Pumpkin in Dog Treats?

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, as indicated above. Yes, you can feed most dogs dog treats that contain pumpkin, but even too many of those can cause digestive upset and stomach upset.

In our research for this piece, we found dog treat recipes with pumpkin that contained dangerous ingredients including pumpkin pie filling and sugar. Some recipes even called for pumpkin spice. While not dangerous, it can cause major stomach upset and irritate a dog’s sensitive digestive tract.

Pet Poison Helpline reports, “Pumpkin spice products are usually flavored with a mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.  It is important to remember the small amounts of these spices added to flavor foods usually will not be toxic to pets, and the risk of toxicity is highest if a pet gets into essential oils or the spices directly.  Ingestion of very large amounts of cinnamon can potentially cause vomiting, diarrhea, lowered blood sugar, irritation of the mouth and lungs, and possibly changes in heart rate and issues with the liver.  Nutmeg contains a toxin called myristicin, and toxicity can cause symptoms including hallucinations, disorientation, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, dry mouth, abdominal pain, and possibly seizures.   Ingestion of large amounts of ginger can cause stomach upset and lethargy.  Cloves and allspice both contain a compound called eugenol, which can cause liver toxicity in cats.”

Dog recipes with pumpkin

Homemade Dog Treat Recipes Containing Pumpkin

One of our favorite DIY pet bloggers is Kol’s Notes. We know she does her research and crafts recipes with safety to dogs in mind. Peruse her pumpkin treat dog recipes.

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.

Additional Dog Pumpkin Precautions

NEVER feed your dog leftover Halloween pumpkins. It may sound like common sense, but some folks believe that leftover pumpkins are safe. No, no, and no again. Not only is the pumpkin harboring bacteria, but chemicals and residue from the point of purchase may linger. Mold and bacteria are toxic to pets, not to mention any paints or decorations that adorned the pumpkin.

DO NOT allow a dog to eat or chew at a pumpkin stem. A Fidose of Reality reader recently asked if this would pose a problem, and to be blunt, YES! Stems and leaves from pumpkins are not for canine consumption. The choking hazard exists, and stems are very hard to digest, which can cause a severe intestinal blockage or worse. Dogs who have ingested a stem should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.

USE CAUTION with pumpkin seeds. We fear feeding anything to dogs that prevents a choking hazard. While pumpkin seeds contain protein, carbohydrates and fiber, do not feed the salted kind. Always check with your veterinarian before changing or adding something like pumpkin or pumpkin seeds to your dog’s diet.

While pumpkin seeds may be a natural remedy for parasites like tapeworms and roundworms, the amount to do so may cause major problems, especially if the seeds are improperly stored. We are of the why risk it ilk when it comes to pumpkin seeds.

DON’T give your dog human pumpkin-containing goodies like pumpkin pie, pumpkin latte, etc. The Pet Poison Helpline says the other ingredients in pumpkin spice foods are of greater toxic concern (caffeine, alcohol, rich ingredients in baked goods, and even the deadly xylitol)!

Are you feeding your dog anything with pumpkin? What’s your experience been? Let us know in the comments below!



A dog lover of the highest order is how Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant, when she appeared with her Cocker Spaniel on Oprah Radio’s Gayle King show to dish dogs. Carol created and owns the trademark, My Heart Beats Dog® and lives that mantra. A 30-year veteran of the dog world, she is President of the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) and the 2020 DWAA winner for Best Dog Blog.


  1. Sharon Gilbert says

    Thank you so much! I do let them lick the spoon after I am finish added organic all natural pumpkin with no additives. Make with just pumpkin. Thanks for the article. I had no idea. Couple years ago I brought dog treats with pumpkin but they refused to eat it. So glad all of us dog lovers have you to keep us up to date and let us know what is good and bad for ours dogs A great big THANK YOU!

    • Carol Bryant says

      Thanks for stopping by – we are here to educate and serve dogs and their loving dog parents. Nice to have you as a forever pack member, Sharon and crew!

  2. Ruth Epstein says

    I use in Layla’s food Fruitable Pumpkin which is mixed with fruits, veggies and ginger and made specially for dogs and it works well for her as I cook all her food. I do not buy any kind of human canned pumpkin at all.

  3. Donna Millwood says

    I liked what you said about too much of a good thing – it is not only true for our dogs but for humans as well! Moderation and sensibility is the key to most things it seems…
    I also agree wholeheartedly over feeding from natural pumpkin sources vs. processed and “sugared up”.

  4. Jodi Chick says

    SO MUCH wisdom here. People have a tendency to think pumpkin is a miracle cure. While it’s generally safe, too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.

    Nutmeg (like the kind of pumpkin spice) scare the bejeebers out of me. In small dogs even a little can be toxic.

    And THANK YOU for sharing our pumpkin page. It’s definitely one of our favourite ingredients to work with. One of these days, I’m going to get you in the kitchen and baking. I BELIEVE IN YOU. Would you like to be able to make Dex and Dar Christmas cookies?!

  5. Viki Anders says

    KIsmet has been getting a heaping spoonful of canned 100% pumpkin in his kibble twice a day since he was a puppy at the advice of his vet. He is now almost 12 years old and has well formed stools twice a day. The only problem I have is a “pumpkin nose” if I don’t wipe his face after he eats lol!

    • Elle Brown says

      Thank you for that knowledge. Other posts make it sound like Vitamin A overdose is lurking everywhere but my dogs are thriving on homemade rice, chicken and pumpkin dinners which all 4 picky eaters LOVE!

  6. Valerie Crithfield says

    I’ve always fed my small dogs a little bit of organic pumpkin with their food it keeps them from dragging their butt on the carpet and they like it. It keeps them from getting fat. We are only talking 2t ea sm dog.

  7. Jennifer says

    My dog eats canned pumpkin, maybe a teaspoon full at a time when needed. No issues with plain canned pumpkin from store, label doesn’t have sugars or other harmful ingredients. Now, if I gave her the pumpkin/oats rolled into ball treats daily, she would get diarrhea, so that’s a no no.

  8. Susan E Gertz says

    My daughter’s little Chi mix loves pumpkin so much that if you put some on his kibble he overeats and gets chubby. So, it has to be an occasional treat.

  9. Leigh says

    As with every dog treat and dog food, be it canned or prepared fresh, we should always proceed with caution. Thank you for letting us know about the potential dangers of pumpkins.

  10. Pixel Blue Eyes says

    Pumpkin is one of my favorite foods EVER, so I love this article Carol and Dex!! I have about one Tbsp. or so of pumpkin each day as part of a daily regimen to keep me regular, healthy and strong. All my sisters do too and it is SO good! I love giving Pumpkin Kisses to Mommy. In fact, I send out pumpkin kisses to all my friends and fans across the world on a regular basis, haha! Thanks for sharing some important information for everyone to know about it.
    Love you!!
    Pixel Blue Eyes

  11. Cathy Armato says

    I sometimes give my dogs pure 100% canned pumpkin or some fresh pumpkin mush I make myself.. I don’t use canned pumpkin that contains salt or Sugar. I read the label on the can.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  12. Barbara J Anderson says

    My neighbor gave me two pumpkins that had been sitting outside in the cold and rain for a month. the pumpkins seemed firm and fine, I baked them, scooped out the meat and put it in the vitamixer. I gave each dog a tablespoon with their meal, which is more than I should have, both dogs threw up after. Now I am afraid to give them any more or should I just try less.

  13. susan lockie says

    My dog ate quite a bit of my pumpkin vine leaves today about 8 am .Now 1pm He seems okay so far , cross fingers that all is good here. I will keep you posted .

  14. Celia says

    Whenever my Pug has an upset tummy she goes into the yard and nibbles on whatever green thing she can find. This time of year she has been nibbling on the leaves of my squash plants. Are the leaves themselves actually poisonous? My husband built raised beds with chicken wire, but she still manages to sneak her little tongue in there!

  15. Eileen says

    Your work in this publication is life saving. Thank you for all your hard work in researching and helping so many dogs and families.


  16. Brittany Morgan says

    Thank you SO much for this!!
    Our vet told us to feed our dog pumpkin to help his poops.
    We’ve been feeding our dog pumpkin mixed with his food ever since then. It’s been about 3 months. Just recently he’s been throwing up and we couldn’t figure out why!!
    Reading this made us realize that TOO MUCH PUMPKIN CAN HURT!
    We’re going to stop feeding pumpkin and see what happens.
    You might have saved our big boy. <3

    • Carol Bryant says

      OMGoodness let me know how it goes with transitioning him off. Plus some dogs can be genuinely sensitive to pumpkin or maybe too much.

  17. Lesa L. says

    thanks so much for this site! I brought our pumpkin in from the outside and my little terrier Willie never saw one. He immediately started to chew on the stem; I stopped him and found yours site…….No stems for dogs! He is mad that he can’t have it; nope Williie; not gonna happen.
    Thank so much!!!

  18. Linda Podany says

    I reluctantly took the advice of a pet store worker that stated he has “been feeding his dogs canned pumpkin for years for Diarrhea.” I neglected to ask how much. He told me he just gives pumpkin and nothing else until Diarrhea subsides. Instead of researching more I gave Roxy 2 feedings today, each feeding about 6-7 oz! I just read that too much can cause toxicity because of vitamin A!! I’m watching her closely. So far just another loose stool. I just gave her some white rice with chicken broth. Any suggestions as to what else I should do or look out for?
    Thank you.

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