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Pumpkin is a seasonal treat for many of us, finding its way into our pies, lattes, and more as autumn rolls around. Increasingly, it also shows up in pet treats and food. Is canned pumpkin really good for dogs and cats, though? We did the research to give you the answers. Read on for why canned pumpkin has become so popular for dogs and cats, ways to serve it, and how much is too much.
Canned Pumpkin for Cats and Dogs: Pros and Cons
Pumpkin is often recommended for pets because of its fiber content. As Dr. Nancy Kay, DVM, writes, pumpkin may help to combat constipation, diarrhea, and anal gland problems in dogs and cats. For cats, this extra fiber may help reduce hairballs, too. However, as Lisa M. Freeman, DVM and veterinary nutritionist explains, dogs in need of a true high fiber therapeutic diet aren’t likely to benefit from pumpkin. As always, consult with your vet if you have concerns about your pet’s dietary needs.
While your pet should be getting all of their essential vitamins and nutrients from their food, supplements like pumpkin can also provide a healthy boost. Pumpkin is a source of vitamin A and vitamin C, which support the immune system and vision, and zinc, which helps to improve skin and coat. It’s loaded with beta-carotene, iron, and potassium, as well.
Apart from its gut-soothing properties, canned pumpkin can also help with weight loss. It adds a bit of bulk to your pet’s diet to keep them feeling full, even if their food portions are cut back. Don’t try this without consulting your veterinarian first, however.
How to Serve Canned Pumpkin to Your Pets
Some cats and dogs love the taste of pumpkin and will happily eat it off the spoon, but most will prefer it mixed into their meals. Cats, in particular, are likely to prefer pumpkin mixed directly into fragrant wet food.
You can also find wet cat food already mixed with pumpkin, like the Pumpkin Jack Splash from Weruva. The same brand makes pre-mixed wet food with pumpkin for dogs, as well, such as the Lamburgini flavor of their Dogs in the Kitchen line.
Not sure how much pumpkin to give your cat or dog? Start by adding one tablespoon of pumpkin to each of your pet’s meals to provide it as a supplement. You can offer up to four tablespoons of pumpkin per meal, but start small when first introducing it to your dog or cat. It can also be offered as a treat between meals—either plain or baked into cookies.
Just as for humans, too much fiber can cause more harm than help. Be sure to check with your vet before you give pumpkin to your dog or cat, and again, start small!
Plain Is Best
When purchasing canned pumpkin for your cat or dog, stick to plain pumpkin with no added spices or sugar. Cinnamon, which is commonly found in pumpkin pie spice, is dangerous to dogs.
Fortunately, plain canned pumpkin is available in grocery stores throughout the year. What’s more, pumpkin for cats and dogs can also be purchased online and in pet stores these days—though it’s no different than regular canned pumpkin for humans, at least you can rest assured that it’s definitely dog-safe. Not only that, but it’s often organic, such as Weruva’s Pumpkin Patch Up! and Nummy Tum-Tum’s Organic Pumpkin.
Preparing Pumpkin at Home
Prefer to make the pumpkin yourself? Whole, organic pumpkins can be prepared for your cats and dogs with a bit of cooking involved. Make sure to remove the skin, stem, and pulp beforehand, and set any seeds aside to roast.
Roasted pumpkin seeds make a great snack for humans and pets, and they are full of antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamins that are important for urinary health and strong, shiny fur.
Homemade Pumpkin Dog Treat Recipes
For home bakers, pumpkin is an enticing ingredient in DIY dog treats. We’ve created and tested many such recipes right here at Rover HQ for our resident dogs, who love them. Note: these treats are best for dogs (not cats).
In addition to this recipe, we love these DIY dog treat options:
- Dog-friendly pumpkin cupcakes
- Pumpkin pie dog cookies
- Pumpkin spice dog treats
- Coco-nutter pumpkin dog cookies
- Peanut butter and pumpkin dog treats
Truly, the possibilities are plentiful.
Pumpkin Safety Concerns
Cats and dogs are often fascinated by jack-o-lanterns, but these pose a risk to your pet’s safety. Jack-o-lanterns can quickly develop dangerous bacteria that may be harmful to your cat or dog, thanks to their long outdoor exposure. Best to compost that decorative pumpkin rather than let it become a snack.
Furthermore, human pumpkin pie contains sugar and spices that aren’t safe for pets. If you’re feeling ambitious, try whipping up some pet-safe pumpkin pie bites for the holiday table. Otherwise, stick to plain canned pumpkin in small quantities. That’s the safest way for your furry friend to indulge.
The Bottom Line
Whether you want to include your pet in a bit of autumn festivity or just provide them with a healthy treat they’ll love, pumpkin is a superfood that offers benefits for dogs and cats alike. Canned pumpkin is a delicious and safe source of fiber and vitamins for pets. So, the next time you pick up a pumpkin spice latte or dig into some pumpkin pie, be sure to include your furry friend with some homemade pumpkin treats or simple canned pumpkin, as well.
Although pumpkin is a great way to provide your pet with some comfort and ease their symptoms, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t replace the expertise of a veterinarian. When in doubt, consult a veterinarian to see if these symptoms are caused by an underlying issue.