What Does Pumpkin Do for Dogs? 15 Benefits

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what does pumpkin do for dogs

People tend to go crazy for pumpkin, especially during harvest time. They’ll add pumpkin flavoring to lattes and use pumpkin in pancakes, ice cream, and other foods. 

But can you feed pumpkin to your dog? Yes, and as a matter of fact, pumpkin is an excellent supplemental food for your pooch. It’s packed with fiber and nutrients that provide several health benefits.

Below, we’ll look at 15 benefits of feeding pumpkin to your dog.

1. Pumpkin is packed with vitamins and minerals

It’s more than tasty; pumpkin is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. The orange color comes from high levels of Vitamin A, or beta-carotene. It also contains vitamins B12, C, and E as well as calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium. By feeding pumpkin to your furbaby, you’ll be giving him several nutrients that he needs to help support healthy skin, immune system, brain, and eyes.

2. Pumpkin helps to prevent cell damage and degeneration

Pumpkin is packed full of antioxidants and vitamin E. Both of these work to reduce free radicals from damaged cells. Free radicals attack healthy cells and increase the risk that your dog will get cancer or other diseases. Pumpkin contains several antioxidants including beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin. These substances work in the body to reduce cellular degeneration and may help to slow the aging process.

3. Pumpkin is a natural remedy for diarrhea

Face it. Diarrhea is a common event in many dogs. It can be triggered by heat stress, sudden diet changes, indiscriminate eating, allergies, and more. Fortunately, bouts of diarrhea are usually short-lived. When your furbaby has a runny stool, you use pumpkin to add soluble fiber to his diet. The fiber absorbs excess water and helps to firm up the poop. 

4. Pumpkin is a natural remedy for constipation

This may seem contradictory, but it’s true. Not only is pumpkin helpful to treat diarrhea, but it can also help to relieve constipation. That’s because this nutritious vegetable contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. When too much liquid is absorbed from the digested food material, the insoluble fiber can help to draw some water back into the intestines. As a result, the stool softens and becomes bulkier making it easier to pass.

5. Pumpkin supports overall gut health

In addition to serving as a natural treatment for diarrhea or constipation, the fiber content in pumpkin helps to promote overall gut health. It does this by reducing the pH in the gut and promoting the growth of healthy probiotic bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. At the same time, the pH level and fiber content discourage the growth of harmful strains of bacteria. 

6. Pumpkin can help prevent anal gland impactions

The anal glands are small sacs on either side of your dog’s anus. They contain a thick, oily liquid that helps lubricate the feces when your dog poops. Unfortunately, sometimes the glands don’t empty properly. Plain canned or fresh steamed pumpkin is an excellent home remedy for impacted anal glands. This food contains soluble and insoluble fiber which adds bulk to the stool. The firmer feces massage the anal glands when your dog poops so that the liquid comes out.

7. Pumpkin works as a natural dewormer

If your pup has intestinal parasites, you may be able to deworm him with a pumpkin product. It’s actually the seeds that contain an amino acid called cucurbitacin. This natural substance paralyzes many of the worms that can affect your dog. When you feed finely ground pumpkin seeds to your pooch, the parasites can’t attach to his gastrointestinal tract, so they get pooped out. Don’t try feeding whole seeds because your pal’s system can’t digest them.

8. Pumpkin helps with weight management

Feeding your dog pumpkin can help him maintain a healthy weight. The fiber content of this food gives your pup a lasting sense of fullness so he won’t need as many between-meal snacks. It also happens to have just under 50 calories per cup, making it lower in calories than most commercial dog treats. So, you can give your pup a tasty goody that’s also healthy for him.

9. Pumpkin is an immunity booster

How many times do you increase your vitamin C intake during cold and flu season? That’s because this nutrient has a vital role in immunity. With high levels of vitamin C, pumpkin helps to boost your pup’s immunity. But vitamin C isn’t the only nutrient that strengthens your pal’s ability to ward off disease. Pumpkin also contains zinc and antioxidants which are beneficial for a healthy immune response.

10. Pumpkin helps with hydration

If you have a pooch that doesn’t drink enough water or you live in a hot climate, pumpkin can help keep your furbaby hydrated. It contains about 90% water. So, when you feed your pooch pumpkin, you’re also giving him extra fluids in a tasty package.

11. Pumpkin supports healthy skin and coat

The nutrient content in pumpkin includes substances that help to keep the skin healthy and the coat soft and shiny. Vitamins A and E along with zinc, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids in pumpkin nourish the skin so that it’s strong. With healthy skin, there’s less flakiness and dandruff. Omega fatty acids also moisturize the hair follicle to keep the coat in top condition.

12. Pumpkin promotes eye health

Did your mom ever tell you to eat more carrots to keep your eyes healthy? Pumpkin also contains beta-carotene and vitamin A, and these are the nutrients that promote eye health. Both substances help to keep the corneal surface moist which protects the eye from damage. Additionally, zeaxanthin protects your pup’s orbs from UV light damage.

13. Pumpkin is good for the heart

The fiber and potassium in pumpkin promote heart health. A high-fiber diet is known to reduce the risk of heart disease because it can help to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. That’s one of the reasons oatmeal is touted as a heart-healthy cereal. According to the American Heart Association, potassium can also lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessel walls and balancing the effects of sodium in the diet.

14. Pumpkin supports urinary health

Because pumpkin seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, they can be an effective supplement to support urinary health, particularly when animals have chronic kidney disease. The nutrient’s potent mediation effects help to regulate immunity and control inflammation at the cellular level. Feeding ground pumpkin seeds to your pooch may help to protect the kidneys from further damage and prevent the formation of kidney stones. Offering this ingredient to your pup may also help reduce bladder sensitivity.

15. Pumpkin helps to prevent cancer

The carotenoids in pumpkin function as antioxidants that may help to reduce the risk of cancer. Beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin all work to protect healthy cells from damage due to free radicals. Free radicals can affect normal cell membrane functions and cause DNA damage and cellular mutations that may lead to cancer. Thus, giving your pup food that contains antioxidants may be an effective cancer preventative.

Final Woof

Feeding your pooch pumpkin has many benefits. As a supplement, it’s full of key nutrients and supports healthy functions in several organs including the heart and eyes. This tasty food can also help to treat or prevent issues like diarrhea, constipation, and intestinal parasites. With all of these benefits, what’s not to like about pumpkin, and fortunately most dogs like the flavor. Remember that pumpkin is a supplement and should be fed in moderation. 

If you choose to give your pup pumpkin, choose plain, unsweetened canned pumpkin or steam and mash some fresh pumpkin. Do not substitute pumpkin pie mix or other products that may contain irritating spices or harmful additives like xylitol. When it comes to pumpkin seeds, grind them to a powder to prevent them from clumping in your pup’s gastrointestinal tract.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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