Pumpkin for Dogs 101

Pumpkin is often mistaken as simply a fall or Halloween decoration, or as filling for pies, but there is much more than meets the eye with this fruit. Most of us love pumpkin in any form, but can dogs eat pumpkin as well, and is pumpkin for dogs completely safe? Let's take a closer look.

If you've been asking yourself, “can I give my dog pumpkin,” the answer is YES – dogs can eat pumpkin without any issues. In fact, pumpkin for dogs can be extremely beneficial due to its many nutrients, and feeding dogs pumpkin has no side effects.

As a nutrient-dense food, pumpkin is loaded with minerals and vitamins but is very low in calories. It’s also a useful addition to many types of foods, not just pie. We already known of many proven benefits and that pumpkin is highly nutritious for human, but can dogs eat pumpkin the same way and will pumpkin for dogs provide the same benefits?

ALSO READ: Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Seeds?

What is pumpkin?

Pumpkin is a nutritious orange plant that is part of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes fruits and vegetables such as squash, cucumber, cantaloupe, and other plants that multiply on creeping vines. Most pumpkins have an orange or yellow exterior and a hollowed interior with numerous white seeds in a web-like structure.

Pumpkin is considered a type of superfood as it provides multiple vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help with weight loss, cancer prevention, and cholesterol control. While the nutrition of pumpkin labels it a vegetable, technically it's a fruit because it contains pumpkin seeds.

This is what fresh raw pumpkin looks like:

What is pumpkin

Pumpkins are native to North America and are one of the most famous vegetables/fruits around due to their popularity during two Holidays – Thanksgiving and Halloween. So, can dogs have pumpkin and what are the benefits of feeding pumpkin for dogs?

RELATED: Can Dogs Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Pumpkin for Dogs 101
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin?

Benefits of feeding dogs pumpkinCan dogs eat pumpkin then if it offers nutrition and there are no dangers of feeding dogs pumpkin? Yes, absolutely. Pumpkin for dogs makes a good and healthy snack, it adds nutritional value to their diet, can help alleviate some health concerns, and has virtually no side effects.

Is pumpkin bad for dogs in any way? Not really. It’s important that you feed your dog fresh, cooked, or canned pumpkin, not the remains of the moldy pumpkin still on your front porch two weeks after Halloween. Raw pumpkin can spoil quickly, so make sure that you give your dog the freshest pumpkin you can find.

Homemade pumpkin dog treats

There are plenty of homemade dog food recipes that utilize pumpkin as the main ingredient, and some really popular homemade pumpkin dog treats. Take a look at our recipes and watch the videos for full cooking explanations:

Pumpkin nutrition and health benefits

Pumpkins are actually incredibly nutritious with a relatively few calories and a huge amount of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. A serving of 1 cup of pumpkin contains:

Calories: 49
Carbs: 12 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 2 grams

Vitamin K
Vitamin C
Copper, manganese and riboflavin
Vitamin E
Niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and thiamin

While there's a lot of research available on the health benefits of pumpkin for humans, there isn't that many studies of pumpkin for dogs. A few that exist are actually related to pumpkin seeds for dogs rather than the pumpkin itself. For example, one study found that supplementing overweight dog's diet with pumpkin helps them lose weight faster due to better digestion (Mitsuhashi et al. 2008; PDF)

Furthermore, since there's a strong correlation between how foods affect both humans and dogs, we're going to take a look at some human clinical trials to answer the question can dogs eat pumpkin and reap some of the benefits from its nutrition.

Here's what we know about the benefits of pumpkin:

  • Beta-carotene in pumpkin protects the skin from aging (1)
  • All the nutrition in pumpkin promotes eye health (2)
  • Pumpkin may lower the risk of metabolic syndrome (3)
  • Vitamins and minerals in pumpkin boost the immune system (4, 5, 6)
  • Pumpkin aids in digestion and helps overweight dogs lose fat (7)

Feeding pumpkin for dogs may result in some of these health benefits as well.

Canned pumpkin vs fresh pumpkin for dogs

Canned pumpkin for dogsSome pet owners are worried, can dogs eat canned pumpkin if they can eat fresh one, or is canned pumpkin for dogs a worse choice. The truth is that canned pumpkin for dogs is a perfectly acceptable choice over fresh pumpkin.

Serving your dog canned pumpkin instead of raw doesn’t affect the level of nutrition in this vegetable. Giving canned pumpkin for dogs can be easier and more convenient for owners because you don't have to go through all the mess. Just be sure that you use natural and/or organic canned pumpkin to avoid feeding your dog any added sugars.

With that out of the way, we know that fresh pumpkin for dogs is good and canned pumpkin for dogs is a great alternative. But is pumpkin good for dogs to consume, and what are the actual benefits of each and how can this food improve their health, and is pumpkin bad for dogs in any way?

READ THIS: 10 Scientific Reasons Homemade Dog Food is Better Than Commercial Foods

6 Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs

Is pumpkin good for dogsNot only is pumpkin for dogs good, but it's one of the natural dog treats that veterinarians often encourage pet owners to add to their dogs diet.

Canned pumpkin for dogs in particular has become a popular snack. So how feeding dogs pumpkin benefit their health? Let's take a look at these six benefits.

1. Pumpkin adds moisture to your dog’s diet.

Because pumpkin is 90% water, it can be added to a dog’s food to provide a healthy amount of moisture. Feeding dogs pumpkin can be especially beneficial for dogs with kibble-only diets, which promote dehydration in dogs.

2. It improves dog's urinary tract function.

Oils in pumpkin flesh, as well as antioxidants and fatty acids, can strengthen dogs’ urinary health. In particular, dogs with urinary incontinence may see improvement from the addition of pumpkin to their diet.

3. The fiber in pumpkin aids in weight loss and digestion.

Pumpkin provides a flavor that most dogs love, and it can be an excellent, nutritious snack for dogs who need to lose some extra weight (7). Just reducing the portion size of your dog’s food and replacing it with pumpkin will help your pup drop a few pounds.

4. Pumpkin helps soothe gastrointestinal issues.

Because of its high levels of fiber, feeding dogs pumpkin can help older canines who are suffering from constipation. Increased fiber levels create more solid stool which in turn encourages your dog’s colon wall to contract the muscles that move the waste out of the dog’s digestive tract.

Pumpkin for dogs can also help alleviate diarrhea because of the soluble fiber in its flesh. It slows down a dog’s digestion and stops diarrhea by absorbing water.

The fiber in pumpkin also acts as a prebiotic, meaning it stimulates the activity and growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. It also works to eliminate the growth of harmful bacteria by lowering the pH levels in the gut and providing the nutrients that good bacteria needs.

5. It contains multiple vital antioxidants and minerals.

Feeding dogs pumpkin results in many benefits mostly due to its varied nutrient profile of various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Giving pumpkin for dogs will add all of the following components to their diet:

  • Vitamin A for your dog’s ocular health
  • Vitamin C which improves the immune system
  • Vitamin E to form fat metabolism, membranes surrounding cells, and cell respiration
  • Potassium for muscular support
  • Iron for the development of hemoglobin in red blood cells
  • Zinc for healthy skin and coat
6. Pumpkin has significant amounts of beta-carotene to fight cancer.

Beta-carotene, a component of Vitamin A, can be beneficial for preventing cancers, especially lung and oral cancers. The orange-colored exterior of a pumpkin indicates how high this fruit is in this crucial antioxidant. There are many other benefits of beta-carotene from pumpkin which we discussed above too.

Benefits of pumpkin for dogs

So, is pumpkin good for dogs?

Yes, absolutely. Feeding dogs pumpkin is a good idea if done in moderation, and it can boost their daily nutrition. You can use both fresh pumpkin for dogs and any type of natural and organic canned pumpkin for dogs to avoid any additives.

This is a great snack for dogs and most canines love the taste of pumpkin. That said, is pumpkin bad for dogs in any way?

RELATED: Can Dogs Eat Watermelons?

Any Potential Side Effects from Feeding Dogs Pumpkin?

Is pumpkin bad for dogsIs pumpkin bad for dogs? No, not at all – there are no side effects of feeding dogs pumpkin, whether canned or raw. It is completely safe to feed this vegetable to your dog as a nutritious supplement or snack as long as you do so in moderation.

Keep in mind, however, as with anything new food that you introduce to your dog’s diet, pumpkin can cause gastrointestinal upset if it is not gradually added to your dog's daily diet. Too much fiber all at once will make your dog very uncomfortable, so add pumpkin slowly and in small amounts until your pup becomes accustomed to it.

A word of warning

It’s critical that dogs be fed only raw, cooked, or natural and organic canned pumpkin. While feeding dogs pumpkin of these varieties is great for them, always avoid giving your dog any of the following foods as they can all cause significant digestive tract issues:

  • Pumpkin with added spices
  • Pumpkin with added flavorings
  • Pumpkin with other preservatives
  • Pumpkin pie filling (sugar, fat, processed ingredients)

Additionally, never feed your dog pumpkin’s leaves or stem as they are covered in small, sharp hairs which if ingested will irritate the mouth, throat, and digestive tract. Stay away from feeding your dog carved jack-o-lantern pumpkins left over from Halloweed, too.

Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin?

Pumpkin for Dogs 101 - A Healthy Snack With No Side EffectsIn conclusion, can dogs eat pumpkin and is pumpkin good for dogs to consume on a regular basis? The answer is yes – with all of the above considered, it's clear that feeding dogs pumpkin is a good idea. Dogs can safely eat pumpkin with no problems, provided that it is cooked, raw, or canned organic and natural pumpkin and that it is slowly introduced into the dog’s regular diet.

Pumpkin is a superfood that offers a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals beneficial to your dog’s health. When feeding dogs pumpkin, moderation is key, so add pumpkin in small amounts to your dog’s food, and watch the health benefits kick in.

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Sarah is the pet food expert at Top Dog Tips with experience in working, writing and researching the pet food industry, dog foods and canine nutrition. She's dedicated to uncover the truths about how, why and what we use to feed our dogs.