It’s pumpkin season and dogs can smell orange treats in the air! Yes, if you didn’t already know this, most dogs have a deep fondness for the ripe, mushy, autumn squash – and what do you know, pumpkins are loaded with health benefits for your canines too.
A spoonful of canned pumpkin can get even the most finicky eater to come sniffing around his/her food bowl, and if the dog has diarrhea or constipation, pumpkin is extremely effective in settling down an upset stomach. (When buying canned pumpkin, look for the plain, pureed kind – NOT the spiced varieties you get at grocery stores for pie fillings etc. Please check the label carefully.)
Here are more reasons why pumpkin is a nutritional storehouse of essential vitamins and minerals that can help boost your dog’s health and immune system:
# 1: NUTRITION PROFILE OF PUMPKIN
• Pumpkin contains a high concentration of vitamin A. While this vitamin is good for a variety of different reasons, it is fat-soluble and stores in the body, so never overfeed pumpkin.
A good rule-of-thumb is 1 tsp of canned (or cooked and pureed) pumpkin per 10 lbs of body weight per day. If your dog has any health issues that may be of concern, discuss the matter of including pumpkins with the vet, just to be on the safe side.
Pumpkin also contains potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure, improve muscle health and assist with metabolism. In lesser amounts, pumpkin has vitamin C, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and folate.
# 2: PUMPKIN IS LOW IN CALORIES
• Pumpkin is a good weight management treat because it is low in calories and digests at a slower rate. It’s high fiber content bulks up food and helps dogs feel full on a calorie-controlled diet. (Try substituting 1 tbs of canned pumpkin for ¼ cup of food.)
# 3: PUMPKIN HELPS CONTROL PARASITES
• Parasites like tapeworms can colonize the digestive system and cause nutrient loss, dry skin and poor coat condition. Pumpkin has high amounts of an amino acid called cucurbitacin, which is toxic to many common dog parasites and has been used to expel worms in ruminating animals. Grind pumpkin seeds and mix a tsp into the dog’s food to help manage parasite infestation. (Remember that pumpkin seeds are high in fat. The powder of just 1 pumpkin seed per 10 lbs of body weight per day is a sufficient amount.)
# 4: PUMPKIN IMPROVES DOG SKIN AND COAT
• Vitamin A, zinc and the high water content in pumpkin moisturizes your dog’s skin and promotes the growth of a shiny coat. The extra moisture also causes the skin to be less dry and flaky, and keeps dogs better hydrated as well.
# 5: PUMPKIN PROMOTES A HEALTHY URINARY TRACT
• Pumpkin seeds are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties and can help dislodge kidney stones. Powdered pumpkin seeds also help to control urinary incontinence, especially in older dogs.
# 6: PUMPKIN RELIEVES BOTH CONSTIPATION AND DIARRHEA
• Pumpkin stabilizes the digestive system if your dog is suffering from diarrhea or constipation. The fiber content in pumpkin binds loose stools in the event of diarrhea. Adding a spoonful of canned pumpkin in food softens hard stools when your pet is showing signs of constipation.
# 7: PUMPKIN IS GOOD FOR VISION
• Vitamin A is essential for eye health in canines and pumpkin has it in plenty. (Again, since excess vitamin A gets stored in the body, you should not add large amounts of any Vitamin A-rich ingredient on a consistent basis in your dog’s diet.)