Who doesn’t love pumpkin? As fall and Halloween approach, grocery retailers bank on our love of the stuff, so out comes the endless parade of pumpkin-centric products on the shelves: pumpkin pancake mix, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cheesecake … the list of creative ways pumpkin is blended into human food is staggering.
As with human trends, popular food additives in the pet space are gaining increasing ground. Many food manufacturers incorporate pumpkin into dog food, as well. And it so happens that many dogs love pumpkin. In fact, unsweetened canned pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and cooked fresh pumpkin flesh can offer many benefits to our canine companions.
Obesity in dogs is on the rise. If you’re looking to help your dog shed weight, try replacing a portion of their daily food with canned pumpkin. The dog still will be full, but overall calorie consumption is reduced. Fiber is just as good for dogs’ digestive health as it is for humans’. And fresh cooked pureed pumpkin, chock full of fiber, can help with constipation and diarrhea. Adding a couple tablespoons (for German shepherds) to dogs’ regular meals can help keep them regular.
Pumpkin seeds are high in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, and the oils in pumpkin flesh and seeds are thought to support urinary health and maintain healthy coat and skin. Never mind the fact they are a great source of vitamin A, beta carotene, potassium, magnesium, manganese and iron for your dog.
According to pet360.com, tapeworms and other intestinal parasites become paralyzed by cucurbitin, an amino acid in pumpkin seeds that acts as a natural deworming agent. The site’s experts recommend grinding up fresh or properly preserved pumpkin seeds into a powder. Give your dog 1 teaspoon three times a day, mixed into a marble-sized portion of canned food and given as a treat. Sprinkle it on your pet’s food at mealtime instead, but doing so runs the risk of the full dosage not being consumed each time it’s administered.
Both raw and cooked pumpkin is safe for dogs, with a few caveats. The flesh and seeds of fresh raw pumpkin is safe—just make sure it hasn’t begun to mold. If you go the canned route, select an organic variety with no added salt or sugar.