Pumpkins: A Safe and Nutritious Treat for Your Furry Friend

As the leaves change and the air turns crisp, pumpkin season is upon us. But did you know the vibrant orange fruit isn’t just a fall favorite for humans? Pumpkin can also be a delicious and safe treat for your four-legged companions. Packed with essential nutrients and low in calories, pumpkin offers a range of benefits to your furry friend’s overall health. 


Pumpkin is rich in dietary fiber, making a fantastic aid for maintaining your dog’s digestive health. Whether your pup struggles with occasional constipation or diarrhea, the fiber content in pumpkin can help regulate their bowel movements and promote a healthy gut. Fiber acts like a broom, sweeping through the digestive tract and promoting regularity. 


If your dog needs to lose a few pounds or maintain a healthy weight, consider incorporating pumpkin into their diet. Pumpkin is low in calories but high in volume, helping your furry friend feel full and satisfied without consuming excessive calories. This can be especially beneficial if you’re trying to control their weight or prevent overeating. 


Pumpkins are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, contributing to your dog’s overall well-being. The orange flesh is loaded with beta-carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A, promoting healthy vision and a strong immune system. Additionally, pumpkins contain vitamins C and E, potassium and iron, which support heart health and muscle function. 


When offering pumpkin to your dog, it’s important to follow a few guidelines. Choose fresh, cooked, plain pumpkin without added sugars, spices, or artificial flavors. Canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) is a convenient option. You can mix a spoonful into your dog’s regular food as a tasty topper or create homemade pumpkin treats by baking pumpkin slices or using pumpkin puree in dog-friendly recipes. 


We want to avoid pumpkin pie filling as it may contain the toxic ingredient, xylitol, as an artificial sweetener. Additionally, pumpkin pie filling may contain other spices and additives that could be harmful to your pet. We also want to avoid sharing uncooked pumpkin rinds. Uncooked rinds are tough, dense, and fibrous. These characteristics make pumpkins ideal for carving but pose a choking risk and are difficult to digest which can result in an obstruction in the GI system.   


This fall, let your furry friend experience the seasonal goodness of pumpkin! With digestive benefits, weight management support, and a nutrient-packed profile, pumpkins make a safe and delicious addition to your dog’s diet. Remember to consult your veterinarian before introducing any new foods to your dog’s routine, especially if they have specific dietary needs or health concerns.


Written by:

Michele Moncrief, Pet Poison Helpline DVM student extern, Iowa State University, Class of 2024

Samantha Koch, CVT, Veterinary Information Specialist II, Pet Poison Helpline