Canned Pumpkin For Dogs

A sweet healthy treat to consider for your pup
By Karen B. London PhD, October 2018

As Halloween looms and many guardians fear for the stress this event brings to dogs, I like to remember that the pumpkins associated with this holiday often some consolation. While pumpkins made for carving aren’t the tastiest (and aren’t even bred and grown with eating in mind), you can provide your dog with a delicious and healthy treat in pumpkin form.

Canned pumpkin offers an easy way to give dogs something that offers potential health benefits along with great taste. (Even better, learn how to prep a fresh pumpkin in the upcoming issue of The Bark!) It’s always wise to check with your veterinarian before feeding your dog anything new, but most dogs tolerate canned pumpkin well and seem to love it.

A little bit of this high fiber, low fat food makes mealtime special. Depending on the size of the dog, anywhere from a spoonful to half a cup is all that’s needed. As with any novel food being introduced to a dog, start with a very small portion and if all goes well, increase the serving size gradually.

Though canned pumpkin can enhance mealtimes, my favorite way to use it involves stuffing it into toys. It packs well into a Kong and helps everything stick together, frozen or not. Because of its orange color, it can make a mess, so choose carefully where dogs eat it. In my house, any room without carpets is fair game.

Because of its high fiber content, canned pumpkin may help dogs who are suffering with diarrhea. It’s important to determine the cause of the problem to rule out the many serious illnesses that could be at the root of the issue. If there is no serious medical problem and a dog is simply suffering from a mild upset stomach, this food may be enough to help the dog. Making sure that the dog drinks plenty of water to avoid dehydration is also important. Interestingly, this same food can help dogs with constipation, though again, it’s wise to reach out to your veterinarian first to determine the cause of the issue.

There may be additional medical benefits to feeding pumpkin to dogs. Some dogs lose weight when a portion of their food is replaced with this vegetable. There are claims that urinary tract health and coat condition can both improve in dogs who regularly consume pumpkin. It has even been suggested that this food can lead to a better immune system.

To avoid feeding your dog something that is unhealthy, make sure that you are buying the right product for your dog. Canned pumpkin is simply pureed pumpkin, and contains no other ingredients. Regrettably, in most grocery stores it is sold right next to cans of pumpkin pie filling in cans that look remarkably similar on the outside. On the inside, though, pie filling also contains lots of sugar and spices and is therefore not something that should be given to dogs.

Does your dog enjoy the Halloween spirit by eating canned pumpkin?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.

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