Is pumpkin bad for dogs? What you need to know

Every year as autumn rolls around — or even during late summer — pumpkin-flavored everything starts to take over. If you’re pumpkin-obsessed (looking at you, latte lovers and candle hoarders), this is great news, but is pumpkin bad for dogs?

You’re about to find out! In this article, we’ll get up to date on everything pumpkin: why it’s good or bad for dogs, how much to feed your furry friend per serving, and even a few ways to prepare this fun autumn food. As long as you keep a few rules in mind, the possibilities and recipes can be nearly endless! Whether you’re eating to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, or simply Monday, pumpkin can make the perfect addition for your pup. Let’s dive in.

Can dogs eat pumpkin?

Long story short: yes! Pumpkin can be a great addition to any dog’s diet, and it can even have some health benefits when enjoyed in moderation. Every dog reacts to foods differently, but pumpkin is not a common allergen or irritant for canines. In fact, it’s not unusual to see this ingredient in dog foods thanks to its high fiber count and a multitude of vitamins.

Not just any pumpkin is good enough for your furry friend, though. Even though dogs can eat pumpkin raw or cooked (even the seeds!), they should not have any added sugar, salt, or seasonal spices that are often used in some of our favorite fall recipes. These ingredients aren’t toxic to dogs, but they’re likely to cause stomach upset.

Canned pumpkin — plain of course — is the ideal choice. According to the canine nutrition pros at the American Kennel Club (AKC), canned pumpkin contains less water than whole pumpkin and therefore a higher concentration of fiber and other valuable nutrients. Don’t be fooled, though: Fresh pumpkin still makes an awesome treat for your dog.

A Pembroke Welsh corgi chews on a pumpkin

Health benefits of pumpkin for dogs

Besides being a delicious snack or mealtime addition, pumpkin has a few key nutrients and health benefits. This gourd is chock-full of soluble fiber, which can regulate bowel movements and contribute to overall intestinal wellness. The fermentation process of fiber in the body also helps “supply energy to cells, stimulate intestinal sodium and water absorption, and lower the pH level of the large intestines” (via AKC).

Pumpkin is also a fantastic source of vitamins — A, E, and C, specifically. Helpful minerals like potassium and iron can also be found here. Potassium — an electrolyte — is vital for heart, nerve, and muscle function, while iron keeps the circulatory system oxygen rich. Who doesn’t love a healthy treat?

How much pumpkin is too much?

Because pumpkin is so high in fiber, it’s smart not to jump right in with a large serving. Instead, start with about 1 tablespoon of canned or powdered pumpkin to your dog’s normal meal (via AKC.) The AKC recommends keeping it at around 1–4 tablespoons (depending on your dog’s size) per meal to help combat constipation, though this is an ideal serving size for pumpkin treats, too.

Giving your dog too much pumpkin can result in diarrhea and intestinal upset. This is why it’s important to start small and to keep an eye on your dog after trying something new. His body will know if he’s had too much of a good thing.

A Samoyed eats a pumpkin

How to serve pumpkin to dogs

First and foremost, make sure the pumpkin you’re serving up is free of spices, sugars, artificial sugars, and salt. If you’re using fresh pumpkin, you can cut up bite-sized pieces to make snacking even easier for your pup.

If your fur baby is a picky eater, you may want to bake your pumpkin into a yummy treat instead of mixing it into his kibble. Even the AKC offers pumpkin dog treat recipes! These crafty ideas include a pumpkin-and-frozen-yogurt treat for warmer weather, peanut-butter-and-pumpkin dog biscuits, and banana-pumpkin cookies.

There’s something for every palate! For an extra-festive look, try out a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter or cute serving bowl — not that your pup will pay much mind to that.

Since pumpkin is not only edible but also delicious to dogs, it makes the perfect autumn snack, treat, or meal addition. Its digestive benefits will leave your pup feeling better than before, while its fun texture will leave him so thrilled, he won’t even know he’s eating healthy food.

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