With the fall season comes a variety of cozy dishes, drinks, and desserts that we look forward to indulging in. Thankfully, our four-legged friends can also enjoy many of these seasonal foods.
Pumpkin is a winter squash within the Cucurbitaceae fruit family that matures in early autumn. Not only is it amazing in pies and lattes, but it is also very nutritious and safe for dogs and cats! Pumpkin is a good source of vitamins (particularly vitamin A), minerals, electrolytes, and fiber, and is also low in calories. The fruit is safe to eat raw but is more difficult to digest and not very appealing. Cooked or processed pumpkin is much more digestible and typically more enjoyable to our furry friends. Roasted pumpkin or pumpkin puree also make great treats. The seeds and rind should not be fed to your pet, as they are very tough and pose a risk of choking and intestinal obstruction. If you are buying preprocessed pumpkin, such as canned pumpkin puree, be sure to verify pumpkin is the only ingredient.
Pumpkin is not the only winter squash that makes a good fall treat. Other popular winter squash including butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash are also pet safe and equally nutritious. As with pumpkin, do not feed the seeds or the rind. These squashes are also best served cooked and can be easily prepared by roasting in the oven. Avoid adding any oils or seasonings on squash intended for your pet.
Apples are another tasty snack you and your furry friend can enjoy together, if they like the tart flavor. Apples are high in nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, and phytonutrients that act as antioxidants. They are safe to be fed raw or cooked. Be sure to remove the core and the seeds of the apple before giving it to your pet, as these pose risks for choking and intestinal obstruction. The seeds also contain a small amount of cyanide, which is toxic to humans and animals alike. However, your pet would need to ingest massive amounts of apple seeds to be of concern.
Pears are a good source of fiber and vitamin C. They are also one of the most easily digested fruits! As with apples, the fruit itself is a safe and tasty treat for your pet, but do not feed them the core or seeds.
This one may surprise you, but cranberries are pet safe, both raw and processed! Most commonly, cranberries are sold dried, or as juice, sauce, or jelly. Sugar or other sweeteners are often added to offset the tartness, so check the nutrition label before giving any to your pet to ensure they do not contain any ingredients that may be toxic, such as xylitol or grape derivatives.
A few additional friendly fall foods that your pet might enjoy:
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
As with any special treats in your pet’s diet, moderation is key! It is recommended that food outside of a commercially balanced diet should only make up 5-10% of your pet’s daily caloric intake. Always consider your pet’s individual dietary needs or restrictions and verify toxic concerns BEFORE giving any new foods.
Isabelle Kiekhafer, Pet Poison Helpline DVM Student Extern, University of Minnesota, Class of 2024
Samantha Koch, CVT, Veterinary Information Specialist II, Pet Poison Helpline