Pumpkin for Pets
Canned pumpkin is a nutritious and delicious treat for both dogs and cats that has important health benefits for your pet. Pumpkin contains important vitamins such as A, E and C, as well as, minerals including potassium and iron. Canned pumpkin is available year round and while fresh pumpkin can be used, the canned variety has a higher concentration of fiber and nutrients due to the higher water content of fresh pumpkin.
According to the American Kennel Club, “Pumpkin can ease digestion in several ways. The
soluble fiber content in pumpkin adds bulk to your dog's stool by absorbing water, and fiber fermentation produces beneficial fatty acids that supply energy to cells, stimulate intestinal sodium and water absorption, and lowers the pH level of the large intestines."
Fiber also acts as a prebiotic triggering the growth or activity of instrumental bacteria in the
intestines which can suppress the growth of harmful bacteria. Fiber does this by lowering the pH level and providing the necessary nutrients these bacteria need.
Please note that a little pumpkin goes a long way so only feed 1-4 tablespoons for dogs and only 1-4 teaspoons for cats. Start with smaller amounts to avoid giving your pet too much fiber. Consult your veterinarian if you have any questions. Feed the pumpkin by itself if your pet will eat it or mix it in his/her food. Or you can use the same amount of pumpkin
powder which is specifically made for pets.
Interestingly, pumpkin can aid in both diarrhea and constipation, however this comes with a
strong caution as both can be the result of a more serious issue so having your pet seen first by a veterinarian is important. Once the cause of the diarrhea or constipation is determined, then feeding your pet pumpkin may be appropriate. Diarrhea is particularly dangerous for puppies as it may be a sign of Parvo which left untreated often proves fatal.
Plain canned pumpkin is the best option. Never feed the canned pumpkin pie mix which is flavored and sweetened with spices, sugar, chemical additives, and potentially xylitol which is toxic to dogs. The artificial sweetener, xylitol, can appear in the ingredient list under a number of different names including: 1,4-anhydro-d-xylitol, anhydroxylitol, birch bark extract, birch sugar, d-xylitol, xylite, xylitylglucoside, Zylatol. See below for more information on xylitol.
If you suspect your dog has ingested a product containing xylitol, immediately contact your veterinarian (Aztec -254-699-6725), pet poison control, or go to the Animal ER right away (Animal Emergency Center of Killeen, 254-628-5017.) Xylitol is dangerous and can be fatal to dogs. For a list of over 700 products that contain xylitol go to - https://www.preventivevet.com/xylitol-products-toxic-for-dogs.