If you’ve ever walked down the dog food aisle of your local pet supply store, you’ve likely realized that certain feed products contain the ingredient pumpkin in many canine commercial diets. But can your furry friend eat foods made from pumpkin, like raw pumpkin, cooked pumpkin, or even pumpkin pie filling? Simply put, we want to know – can dogs eat pumpkin?
If you want to add a human food such as pumpkin to your dog’s diet, read this article first!
Dr. Jess describes the risks and the benefits of feeding pumpkin to your dog, as well as which types of pumpkin dogs can eat (if any!), and which is best left out of their food dish.
Dog food companies commonly use pumpkin as one of their many ingredients.
However, dog food experts have arguments regarding the safety of serving certain pumpkin products to dogs.
Well, as delicious as pumpkin is, is it actually a health threat to the dogs or are we over-reacting about this?
Let me, the veterinarian, explain my thoughts…
It’s always the best idea to double-check which foods your dog can and can not eat because many foods that are safe and healthy for humans are actually very harmful for your dog to eat, or even poisonous or deadly to them. Taste is never worth the risk of harming your pet.
That’s why I am so glad that you are here making an informed decision before feeding your dog pumpkin!
What Do Dogs Eat?
Some dogs are not picky at all about what they eat. They’ll eat whatever you offer them- they’re like vacuum cleaners sucking up anything you put in front of them and then some!
Some dogs are on the pickier side of things. Pickier pups can be harder to properly feed because they just won’t eat any food we give them. Try feeding a picky dog something like okra!
A common canine diet for pet dogs consists of a complete dry or wet feed and possibly some form of supplements in some specific cases (however, not all pet dogs need supplements).
Foraging can also be included in the diet if the dog is allowed to roam, or the dog is feral, and of course there are treats that are a part of many dog’s diets!
The diet of every dog breed will very when you are looking into a healthy and complete diet for your pup. So it is important to know when offering food to your dog, what constitutes a healthy choice, and what does not.
An improper diet could put your dog at risk of having problems properly digesting their food and absorbing nutrients correctly. And we don’t want that now do we???
So let’s talk specifically about pumpkin, since that’s why you clicked over here today, and talk about how it could affect your dog’s overall health and well-being.
What is Pumpkin?
Pumpkin is a winter squash that grows along a vine on the ground.
It is in the Cucurbitaceae plant family and is actually considered a fruit just like spaghetti squash, melons, and cucumber.
It can range in color from yellows to vibrant tan, orange, greens, whites, and creams on the outside and a softer pulp and slippery seeds on the inside.
The typical pumpkin is round or oval in shape, with a curved stem still attached to the top of the squash.
This variable-shaped squash is treated as a vegetable in most U.S. cooking groups and is a popular “vegetable” served alongside main courses, typically canned, pureed, or roasted for human consumption.
According to Wikipedia’s description of the nutritional benefits of pumpkin:
In a 100-gram amount, raw pumpkin provides 110 kilojoules (26 kilocalories) of food energy and is an excellent source (20% or more the Daily Value, DV) of provitamin A beta-carotene and vitamin A (53% DV) (table). Vitamin C is present in moderate content (11% DV), but no other nutrients are in significant amounts (less than 10% DV, table). Pumpkin is 92% water, 6.5% carbohydrate, 0.1% fat and 1% protein (table).https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpkin
Pumpkin has quite a large supply of vitamin A that can help support vision and your pet guinea pig’s immune system.
It also contains another important vitamin, vitamin C.
Vitamin C is an extremely important vitamin for guinea pigs to have in their diets as they can not make it in their bodies and must get it from outside sources in their diet.
Pumpkin is also rich in different antioxidants [source].
Antioxidants are plant compounds that help protect the body from damage by free radicals, which can cause degenerative diseases.
Pumpkin also has a decent amount of fiber to help with digestion and can sometimes help in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Can You Feed Pumpkin To Dogs?
While pumpkin is not toxic to dogs and can be quite beneficial to some dogs, too much pumpkin could lead to some health problems too.
Let me dive a little deeper and explain myself so you can make an informed decision on whether or not you should let fido lick pumpkin off of your plate this holiday season.
Do Dogs Like Pumpkin?
Dogs are natural carnivores.
Some dogs find the flavor of pumpkin to be a delicious one, just some people love pumpkin in or on everything during the holidays, from their lattes to their pies and other sweet baked goods.
So yes, many dogs like the taste of pumpkin. Some dogs even LOVE it.
Can Pumpkin Be Harmful to Dogs?
Before we can decide whether pumpkin is safe to feed our dogs, we need to first understand some of the risks involved if we do feed our dogs pumpkin.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t have any concerns with feeding your dog pumpkin, because there are a few key things to keep in mind.
These three factors to keep in mind include:
Harmful Reason #1: Loose Stool/Diarrhea
Too much fiber can mean hypermotile, or increased movement, of one’s digestive tract.
Some dogs are more sensitive to additional fiber in their diets, so they are more likely to have loose stool and in some cases, full-blown diarrhea.
Other dogs will not be impacted by any additional fiber in their diets.
It has also been talked about, that for some reason, some dogs have seen a dog’s loose stool clear up and become more solid, after eating pumpkin.
Now, I have not seen this last scenario with my own eyes, I have had many people tell me that that was their experience.
Harmful Reason #2: Hidden Artificial Ingredients
Many store-bought and canned pumpkin products have artificial products in them to keep the pumpkin from going bad.
Any of these ingredients, artificial or not, can be cause for an allergic reaction. Anything that your dog puts in their mouth and consumes is fair game for an allergic reaction.
Other canned pumpkin products contain sugar or spices, so things like pumpkin pie filling or flavored pumpkin can cause extra calories and problems that we want to stay away from.
Harmful Reason #3: Allergic Reaction to Pumpkin
A dog can develop an intolerance or an allergy to any food, so there is always the possibility that your dog is allergic to pumpkin, more specifically, an ingredient used to create the pumpkin.
If you suspect your dog is allergic to pumpkin do NOT feed this product to your dog.
If your dog is allergic to pumpkin and accidentally ingests it, go to your nearest animal emergency room immediately.
If your dog is allergic and soy is ingested, the dog’s body may treat the soy protein as a severe allergen and attack it, using the dog’s own immune system.
When this happens, the attack sets off a hypersensitivity reaction and can result in any of the following symptoms:
Common symptoms of adverse/allergic reaction to food:
- Itching/Increased grooming
How Much Pumpkin Can Dogs Eat?
This depends on the specific dog in question. Most the time, pumpkin, given in small amounts periodically, is most likely just as healthy for your dog as it is for you.
Moderation is key here; never go overboard when feeding pumpkin to your dogs, no matter if your dog has a stomach of steel or not. Small amounts every once in a while is okay for most dogs.
Smaller dogs do not need as much pumpkin as a larger dog to have the same effect.
Dogs with loose stool do not need, or need much less pumpkin, than a dog that is constipated would need.
The best thing to do to gauge how much pumpkin you should be feeding your dog safely, would be to contact your veterinarian about the specific pet in question.
Is Pumpkin Beneficial For Dogs?
The random lick of pumpkin as a treat is totally fine – it will not harm your dog.
However, there’s no need to offer it in large quantities, as this can cause some major health issues for your pup, as I discussed above.
Basically, if your dog consumed a bit of pumpkin, you don’t need to drive them straight to the vet to get their stomach pumped.
If they start showing any odd signs of being affected by this new food, contact your local veterinarian to get more information on what to do next.
So, yes there are some negative effects that can be seen with some dogs who consume pumpkin.
However, this does not mean that a large number of dogs see many more health benefits versus those few health concerns.
Some of the health benefits for dogs who consume pumpkin include:
- High Fiber: Fiber is great to keep the digestive system flowing smoothly and also helps dogs feel satiated (feeling full for longer after eating).
- Low Calorie: If your dog is overweight, you are liking looking for low calorie options for treats, etc.
- High Water Content: A high water content feed means that your dog is more likely to stay well-hydrated.
- Low Fat: Again, if you are looking for lower-fat options to serve your overweight dog, pumpkin may be a good add-on option.
- Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants: Pumpkin has many different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help keep your dog happy and healthy.
Types of Pumpkin Dogs Can Eat:
There are certain types of pumpkin that all dogs should stay away from completely.
Pumpkin with added preservatives, sugar, or other spices can be harmful to your dog, so do not feed flavored pumpkin to your dog ever.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Pumpkin?
Most dogs can handle a bit of raw pumpkin.
Only offer your pet the fleshy inside part of the pumpkin, and make sure that the pumpkin is fresh and not overly ripe or rotten.
Many dogs do not like the taste of raw pumpkin, so don’t be shocked if your pup tells you no thanks to raw pumpkin.
Can Dogs Eat Roasted Pumpkin?
Yes, dogs can eat roasted pumpkin, as long as no seasonings or other cooking products were used in the cooking process.
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Pie Filling?
Nope. Pumpkin pie filling isn’t the same thing as canned pureed pumpkin.
It typically has sugar, spices, and preservatives – all of which can cause some serious health issues if given to the wrong dog.
These are not the best to feed to any dog – so just steer clear of pumpkin pie filling when it comes to fido.
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are found in the center of the fleshy interior of the pumpkin. Many people roast them with spices, in which they turn into a crisp little snack.
Pumpkin seeds can be fed to dogs as long as you follow a few simple rules.
For starters, do not feed raw seeds to your dog – they are slimy, slippery, and can turn into a choking hazard.
Secondly, do not feed your dog pumpkin seeds that have any salt or other seasoning baked onto them.
Pumpkin seeds fed to dogs need to be baked, and without seasonings or oils/cooking sprays.
After being baked, place the seeds in a food processor to grind them down into a powder in which you can add to your dog’s diet.
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin-Flavored Foods?
No way. Pumpkin-flavored foods do not necessarily mean that the food has pumpkin in it or that there are no hazardous products in the pumpkin-flavored food.
It’s safer to just stay away from feeding your pup pumpkin-flavored foods.
How to Serve Pumpkin to Dogs:
After checking with your vet to make sure that pumpkin should be a part of your dog’s menu, start by offering your dog 1 teaspoon of cooked or canned pure pumpkin.
If your dog does not show any adverse reactions after 24 hours or more, then you are likely safe to continue feeding your pup pumpkin, gradually increasing the amount according to your vet’s guidelines.
Keep the following in mind when serving food to your dog:
And remember that dogs need more than a bowl or plate of pumpkin – they need a complete and balanced diet.
Whichever complete food you choose for your dog, it needs to have the AAFCO label indicating the diet is complete and balanced for your dog’s life stage.
AAFCO approved foods have gone through testing and compliance to make sure that the diet is safe and healthy for your pet.
Dogs already get everything that they need from their kibble or canned food.
How Much Pumpkin Can My Dog Have?
Can dogs eat pumpkin? As I mentioned previously, it depends…
Most dogs are safe consuming a teaspoon or two of pumpkin per serving.
I usually will tell most healthy and active dog parents, 1 teaspoon of canned pure pumpkin per 10-15 pounds of body weight.
I highly recommend contacting your vet first before starting your dog on pumpkin, and also suggest that you start by offering your pup a small amount of pumpkin and then working up to 1 teaspoon per 10-15 pounds of bodyweight.
A little bit of pumpkin typically goes a long way!
It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Talk to your vet about the appropriate serving size of pumpkin for your dog.
Can Puppies Eat Pumpkin?
I would never advise a puppy owner to feed pumpkin to their puppy unless your veterinarian is recommending it due to specific medical needs.
Why do I say this? Because your pup’s first months of life should consist of specialized puppy diets approved by your local veterinarian upon puppy examination.
Puppies tend to have an even more delicate digestive system than adult dogs so giving your puppy pumpkin might cause diarrhea, vomiting, or other adverse reactions.
What to do If Your Dog Eats Pumpkin:
If it is just a lick or two of pumpkin, just watch them for the rest of the day just in case, for any signs of adverse reaction.
If you are concerned with this small amount, of course, contact your veterinarian right away. Most dogs can tolerate a small amount of pumpkin on occasion and do just fine.
If it is a large amount of pumpkin, contact your veterinarian right away to discuss details and what to do next.
It is extremely likely that your vet will request that you bring your dog in immediately to get evaluated if they have gotten themselves into a large amount of pumpkin, or a rotten pumpkin. We vets want to help and we will best help if we are notified right away.
Trust me, us vets are happy to help!
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.