Some people wonder if canned pumpkin for dogs is safe for their pet; others wonder if their dogs can eat raw pumpkin.
The answer is simple: not only can your dogs eat pumpkin (raw or cooked), but it has heaps of health benefits!
Some of the health benefits of pumpkin for dogs may surprise you, so read on to see which ways it might help your dog.
Should I Get Fresh or Canned Pumpkin For My Dog?
The answer to this question surprised me.
I thought fresh pumpkin would be better—hands down (even though I’ve always used canned pumpkin for my dogs).
There are obvious advantages of fresh—I have always read that fresh anything will have the most nutrients. Fresh beans vs canned, fresh berries vs. frozen . . . you get the picture.
But the Mayo Clinic states that, although usually fresh foods generally have more nutrients, both fresh and canned pumpkin are chock full of nutrients.
One reason may be that fresh pumpkin has more moisture than canned pumpkin, so the nutrients may be less “dense” per any given amount . . . and because of that, canned pumpkin for dogs packs a nutrient punch.
One important fact about canned pumpkin that I did not know: this Consumer Reports Article about How Processing Changes Canned Pumpkin states that “the can may say 100 percent pumpkin, but it probably isn’t—it can be a mix of pumpkin and another golden-fleshed squash, which is denser and sweeter. (This swap is acceptable to the Food and Drug Administration).”
I can’t think of any big problem that would cause, but it’s interesting to know nonetheless, especially if your dog has food sensitivities.
16 Health Benefits of Fresh & Canned Pumpkin For Dogs
Important Disclaimer: I am not a vet. Not even close! My goal is to share my own personal experience and information I have gathered; not to give medical advice.
If you think you want to try something you read about here, talk to your vet! But first read this and many more articles to empower yourself for a good discussion in which you can ask your vet great questions about what you want to try.
Knowledge is power – never forget that!
Canned pumpkin is my go-to when my dogs have occasional diarrhea. Generally my dogs get diarrhea when they have eaten something they shouldn’t on a walk and it wreaks havoc on their gut.
It’s amazing how quickly a dog can grab and swallow dead animal parts, and even if there is a chance that I can grab it and pull it out of their mouth, once I get their mouth open and see what I’m trying to remove I usually involuntarily holler and let go . . . and . . . GULP. Down the hatch it goes.
The soluble fiber in pumpkin helps to absorb the excess water, thus firming up your dog’s stool, and its prebiotic properties help good bacteria grow in your dog’s intestines.
With diarrhea (and with constipation – covered next), you need to remember that if something like pumpkins doesn’t seem to help, it’s time to visit your vet to figure out what is causing it.
I’m sure you’re thinking “But wait . . . you just said pumpkin helps bulk up stool, so isn’t that bad if your dog is constipated?”
That is the first thing I thought when I learned about pumpkin too. But, it turns out, pumpkin magically helps BOTH issues.
If your dog is constipated, the high water and fiber content in the pumpkin adds bulk and softens the stool, making it easier to pass (much like a laxative would).
3. Anal Gland Issues
The fiber in pumpkin helps bulk up the stools, which in turn helps the dogs body express their anal glands.
If your dog is prone to impacted/infected anal glands, pumpkin can be a key part of a prevention plan.
4. Soothes Upset Tummy
Pumpkin is easy to digest and can help restore potassium if your dog has been vomiting or has diarrhea. Potassium is both an electrolyte and a mineral; it helps maintain the water and electrolyte balance of the body and also increases mucus production in the stomach, which helps prevent the irritation of the stomach lining.
5. Provides Minerals
In addition to potassium, fresh or canned pumpkin for dogs contains iron, copper, calcium, and phosphorus—each an essential ingredient for good health. Some of the benefits these minerals provide include boosting the immune system, building strong bones and teeth, and helping with oxygen transport in the blood (i.e. helps anemic dogs).
6. Weight Control
Pumpkin is high in fiber and low in calories, making it a great meal additive for an overweight dog. If you are rationing your dog’s food to help them lose weight, adding a little pumpkin can make them feel more full without many added calories.
7. General Nutrition
Pumpkins are chock full of nutrition for your dog, including:
- Beta Carotene
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
8. Regulates Blood Sugar
Several animal studies have demonstrated that pumpkin could possibly reduce insulin needs, may be responsible for blood-sugar-lowering and diabetes-preventing effects, and also may improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.
Quantity control is important though; if your dog is diabetic talk to your veterinarian before adding pumpkin to their diet.
9. Dewormer?? NOPE!
Some people mistakenly think that canned pumpkin can be used for worms or giardia. They are confusing canned pumpkin with pumpkin SEEDS—read more about using ground pumpkin seeds in the articles Natural Ways To Deworm A Dog and What Naturally Kills Giardia In Dogs.
10. Eye Health
Pumpkin is rich in Beta Carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light. These functions help to prevent age-related night blindness and eye degeneration.
One clinical trial about Age Related Eye Disease in humans found that high doses of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Beta Carotene (Vitamin A) were linked to significantly reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Many of the nutrients in pumpkin help strengthen and support your dog’s immune system. Vitamin C supports all around immune health. Vitamins C, A, E, and other antioxidants in pumpkin could possibly prevent the development of certain cancers.
12. Healthy Skin & Coat
Dogs with a Zinc deficiency can have skin and coat issues, so the Zinc in pumpkin could potentially improve flaky skin and give them soft, healthy fur. Dogs with skin allergies frequently do better with both extra Zinc and Vitamin C, and pumpkin is a great way to provide this.
Pumpkin is packed with nutrients that can help reduce joint inflammation. Nutrients and minerals such as Beta Carotene, B6, Vitamin C, and Magnesium are all beneficial for reducing inflammation and joint pain.
Pumpkin has a high percentage of water, so by adding a bit to your dog’s meal you are increasing their fluid intake. This is especially beneficial if you feed your dog kibble.
Pumpkin contains prebiotic fiber which helps feed/multiply the beneficial bacteria strains in your dog’s gut.
Benefits of prebiotics include improved bacterial populations in your dog’s intestines, improved GI tract health, reduced inflammation in the body, and improved behavior and cognition.
16. Great For Kongs (For Teething Puppies & Bored Dogs)
**note: this post contains affiliate links. No one paid me to recommend these products, I recommend them because I like them. However, using the link to buy the products helps support happynaturaldog.com.**
Pumpkin is the perfect filler for a Kong that will keep teething puppies and bored dogs busy for hours! I mix one can of pumpkin with one can of salmon, add powder that is always left over in the bottom of my freeze dried liver treat container, spoon the mixture into a bunch of Kongs, freeze them, and use them when I need my dogs to keep quiet or entertain themselves when visitors come or I have a Zoom meeting.
Extra bonus: I do not understand the science behind this, but when my dogs eat these Kongs on the carpet and it leaves a light orange stain, after a few days the stain DISAPPEARS!
Do not quote me on this, and I take no responsibility for your carpet because I don’t know why this happens, but it’s such a bonus when a few days later the stain is gone! My bet is that it basically dries on the top of the carpet and vacuums away.
If you worry about the stain or smell, give them the Kong in a room with no rugs or carpet.
17. Healthy Training Treats
Pumpkin is an absolutely FABULOUS ingredient in training treats! Pumpkin dog treats made with pumpkin and other healthy ingredients (read the label to check!) are lower in calories and high in nutrients, so you can train more without worrying your dog will become overweight.
I will be experimenting next week to come up with a good homemade recipe to share with you, but if you aren’t into making your own or don’t have the time I found two really good options: one is single ingredient (pumpkin) and the other only has a few natural ingredients and no preservatives.
Don’t Confuse Canned Pumpkin With Pumpkin Pie Mix
This is really easy to do. Usually the cans have similar pictures, one says “pumpkin” and the other says “pumpkin pie mix.”
Pumpkin pie mix can have added sugars and spices that aren’t good for your dog, so make sure to check the ingredients – you want it to say 100% pumpkin – and nothing else!
Wondering How Much Pumpkin to Give a Dog?
Recommendations vary, but the majority of sites I found recommend adding about 1 tablespoon of pumpkin to your dog’s meals, but said that up to 4 tablespoons are OK.
As with anything, start small and work your way up, and use smaller amounts for smaller dogs.
So Are You Ready To Try Fresh Or Canned Pumpkin For Dogs?
When I started writing this article I had no idea that pumpkin for dogs had such diverse benefits. I knew it was healthy and had always used it for diarrhea and constipation, but many of the other health benefits were surprises to me!
My plan this week is to experiment and develop a treat recipe or two to make small but yummy treats I can use for training—so stay tuned and I’ll share what I come up with in my next article!
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