The smell of pumpkin spice is in the air, it’s that time of year again! Every October, an abundance of round orange squashes that we know as pumpkins take over our porches as a favorite autumn decoration. They can be painted and dressed up, or carved into a spooky jack o’-lantern. Some even use them far into November for harvest décor and to create the perfect pumpkin pie. However, this plump round squash isn’t just for us to enjoy- our pets can enjoy pumpkins too!
BENEFITS FOR PETS?
Pumpkin is very beneficial to dogs, as well as cats, because it is high in fiber and beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A and supports your pet’s vision and metabolism. It also contains vitamins C and E, along with minerals like iron and potassium. Many pet parents use pumpkin when a dog or cat is not feeling well and has diarrhea or gastrointestinal upset to soothe the stomach and firm up the stool. Fiber bulks the stool by absorbing excess water and ferments into fatty acids. These fatty acids then lower the pH levels while stimulating the sodium in the intestine. The fiber also acts as a prebiotic, which helps the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria by providing nutrients. Animals that are overweight can benefit from pumpkin due to the fiber, as the fiber helps them to stay fuller longer, which means you end up feeding less and your pet becomes healthier (along with frequent walks from your favorite local dog walking company!) A dog or cat only requires 1 to 4 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin – dependent on their weight – added to a meal. Start small so you don’t give them a fiber overload and always check with your veterinarian first!
NOT ALL PUMPKIN IS CREATED EQUAL
Before you run out and buy a can of pumpkin, understand that not all pumpkin is created equal! Canned pumpkin pie filling or mix is NOT the same as canned pumpkin. Pumpkin pie fillings have loads of added sugars, preservatives, and spices with little nutritional value. Pie filling can also contain Xylitol (a processed sugar substitute) that is extremely toxic to dogs. Make sure the can simply reads canned pumpkin which contains cooked pumpkin that has been pureed with no added sugar. If you fancy making it yourself, you can get your own pumpkin and boil or bake it with nothing added. Be sure the pumpkin isn’t rotten when you purchase it, as a rotten pumpkin will just cause digestive upset. Also, be sure to consult your veterinarian if your dog or cat is diabetic or has kidney disease to make sure it is safe to feed them pumpkin.
Pumpkin seeds contain the same vitamins and minerals as well as create a delicious little snack. The oils in them are excellent for the coat and skin since they are a type of omega-3. Just beware if you are feeding pumpkin to not give your pet too much of the seeds since they will create bowel movements. Less is more!
Many of the pumpkin flavored treats on pet store shelves contain very little pumpkin, but a lot of filler, so they are not the same as supplementing actual pumpkin in your furry friend’s diet. There are many homemade recipes for dog treats with pumpkin out there, and when you make it yourself, you get to control what ingredients go into them – you can choose to make them extra healthy! If you are pressed for time – because let’s be honest, not everyone has time to bake for their dog as much as we would like — look for a local company that values healthy treat options like BONES Dog Bakery here in Rochester. You can find their treats and other pumpkin options at PetSaver Healthy Pet Super Store locally (they carry canned pumpkin too)!
A NEW HOLIDAY TRADITION
No longer are pumpkins just a fall decoration to admire. Next time the family is huddled around the table getting ready to carve their pumpkins with the insides are heaped in a large bowl, remember these benefits for your pet! Rather than just throwing them out, treat your furry friend! Start a new family tradition and make your beloved pet a part of it. While you enjoy your pumpkin pie, your pet can enjoy a new pumpkin treat or pumpkin puree topped on their food. Their tummies will thank you for it! It’s an easy way to supplement their meal and help your pet take part in the festivities of the season!