Pumpkin in Dog Food – (G)host of Health Benefits
Sorry, as it is Halloween, I couldn’t resist 😊. Whenever our dogs have a stomach upset, the common wisdom is to add pumpkin to their diet to settle their digestive issues, and for good reason. Pumpkin offers dogs a wide range of significant health benefits.
In the realm of Chinese culture, the pumpkin is esteemed and referred to as the ‘Emperor of the Sun,’ embodying the quintessence of fertility.
Pumpkin stands out as an exceptionally nutritious choice, brimming with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all while being remarkably low in calories, positioning it as a food conducive to weight loss.
The vegetable offers a substantial amount of potassium and beta-carotene—a carotenoid transformable into vitamin A. Furthermore, it encompasses minerals such as calcium and magnesium, alongside an array of vitamins including E, C, and several B vitamins. The nutritional composition of pumpkin not only bolsters the immune system of dogs but also safeguards their vision, diminishes the likelihood of certain cancer types, and nurtures the health of the heart and skin.
In terms of environmental impact, pumpkins leave a minimal carbon footprint, ranking among the lowest for fruits and vegetables, at a mere .09 kg CO2-equivalent per kg of food.
9 Scientifically-Backed Rationales to Incorporate Pumpkin into Your Dog’s Nutritional Regimen:
- Exceptionally Nutritious and Abundant in Vitamin A: Pumpkin is a treasure trove of vitamins and minerals, yet it is low in calories. It is a prime source of beta-carotene, which transforms into vitamin A within your dog’s system. (2)
- Rich in Antioxidants, Potentially Mitigating the Risk of Chronic Diseases: Pumpkin is laden with antioxidants such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin, which may shield your dog’s cells from the detrimental effects of free radicals. (3, 4, 5, 6)
- Vitamins that Could Enhance Immunity: The vitamin A and C content in pumpkin is high, potentially bolstering your dog’s immune defences. Additional support may come from its vitamin E, iron, and folate content. (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
- Protects Eyesight with Vital Nutrients: The rich content of vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin in pumpkin may act as a safeguard against vision loss in dogs, a condition that becomes increasingly prevalent with age. (13, 14, 15, 16)
- Nutrient-Rich and Low in Calories for Weight Management: With fewer than 50 calories per cup (245 grams), pumpkin is a nutrient-dense option. Its fibre content may also play a role in appetite suppression. (2)
- Antioxidants May Reduce Cancer Risks: The carotenoids in pumpkin, functioning as antioxidants, are associated with reduced risks of various cancers including stomach, throat, pancreas, and breast cancer. (17, 18, 19, 20, 21)
- Heart Health Benefits from Potassium, Vitamin C, and Fibre: Pumpkin is a commendable source of potassium, vitamin C, fibre, and antioxidants, all linked to cardiovascular health. (22, 23, 24, 25)
- Natural Compounds for Skin Health: The beta-carotene in pumpkin acts as a natural sunblock, while its vitamins C and E, along with lutein and zeaxanthin, contribute to maintaining your dog’s skin in robust health. (5, 26, 27, 28, 29)
- Eco-Friendly Choice: Pumpkins have an impressively low environmental footprint, significantly lower than many other fruits and vegetables, and notably lower than lamb, which has a footprint of 26.45 kg CO2-equivalent per kg of food.(30)
Integrating Pumpkin into Your Dog’s Diet
Delving into ways to incorporate this nutritional powerhouse into your dog’s daily meals reveals various options. However, even with pumpkin’s extensive health benefits, it should be treated as a delicacy for your canine companion and given in reasonable quantities.
Unsweetened canned, cooked, or mashed pumpkin can be seamlessly blended into your dog’s staple wet or dry food. Our nutritionist suggests a daily dose of 1 teaspoon of plain canned pumpkin for every 4.5kg of body weight, adjusting slightly depending on your dog’s specific size.
You can also offer a teaspoon of cooked pumpkin as a reward post-training, or place it inside a Kong toy to provide endless entertainment. Consider substituting butter or other fats with pumpkin when preparing homemade treats for your dog.
Pumpkin seeds, when roasted without the addition of oils, salt, or seasonings, can serve as delightful treats. Alternatively, they can be ground into a fine powder and sprinkled atop your dog’s meal.
Excessive vitamin A intake can pose toxicity risks for dogs, potentially leading to nutritional imbalances and hindering their ability to absorb other vital nutrients, including proteins. This could result in nutritional deficiencies. If your dog exhibits loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, or other signs of discomfort, contact your veterinarian promptly.
Though pumpkin can alleviate digestive issues, its high fiber content may have the opposite effect, causing stomach upset or diarrhea if not introduced gradually and consumed in moderation. Begin with a tiny amount of cooked pumpkin, and do not exceed 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs. of body weight. Smaller dogs may require just ½ teaspoon per day, whereas larger breeds can safely consume between 1 to 4 tablespoons daily.
If preparing pumpkin pulp at home, keep it simple and avoid adding any spices or extra sodium. If opting for canned pumpkin, ensure it’s plain and not a pie filling variant, which typically contains additives, spices, sugars, and occasionally xylitol—a substance that can be fatal to dogs.
Raw pumpkin isn’t inherently harmful, but it can disrupt digestion. Ensure all outer skin, peel, stems, and leaves are removed before offering it to your dog.
For puppies, very small, or underweight dogs, limit pumpkin treats to minuscule amounts.
Exclude pies, pastries, cookies, and lattes from your dog’s diet, as these are laden with sugar, spices like nutmeg, and excessive calories.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the safe quantity of pumpkin for my dog?
A: Initiate with a minimal serving of cooked pumpkin, gradually increasing to a maximum of 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs. of body weight. The upper limit equates to ½ teaspoon daily for smaller dogs, while larger breeds can consume 1-4 tablespoons each day.
Q: Is it safe for dogs to eat pumpkin seeds?
A: Yes, provided the seeds are roasted without oils, spices, or salt and given in moderation. Rich in Omega-fatty acids, pumpkin seeds could potentially aid in parasite expulsion, alleviate kidney stone issues, and help manage urinary incontinence. Always consult with your veterinarian prior to introducing them into your dog’s diet.
Q: Can dogs have canned pumpkin?
A: Certainly, plain canned pumpkin without added salt is deemed safe for canine consumption when adhering to the recommended daily amount. Refrain from offering your dog pumpkin pie filling or any canned pumpkin product that includes additional spices.
Q: Is raw pumpkin suitable for dogs?
A: Though not toxic, raw pumpkin could cause digestive unrest. It’s preferable to stick with steamed, roasted, or baked pumpkin flesh, ensuring all outer skin, peel, stems, and leaves are discarded.
Q: Can you feed dogs pumpkin pie?
A: Regrettably, pumpkin pie is not suitable for dogs—even varieties labeled as organic or “natural”—due to the likely inclusion of additional spices, and a crust typically rich in butter or other fats.
Bonza Superfoods and Ancient Grains plant-based dog food not only contains pumpkin but a healthy blend of nutrient dense fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes. To support their health further our food includes a proprietary blend of herbs and botanicals and adaptogens offering nose to tail protection.