Can dogs eat pumpkin?
Pumpkin (botanical name: Cucurbita) is low in calories (only 28 kcal/100g) and is very filling due to its many fibres. It contains many vitamins (A, B, C, E), antioxidants and trace elements. On top of that, most dogs like it. Can dogs eat pumpkin and if so, how do I feed it properly?
Yes or No?
Yes, pumpkin is actually healthy for dogs. We show you the advantages and disadvantages of pumpkin for dogs and how you can best feed it to your dog.
5 excellent reasons to feed the pumpkin
Strong antioxidants boost vision and the immune systemPumpkin contains a lot of beta-carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that supports cell health and the immune system and fends off free radicals. Dogs can produce vitamin A from beta-carotene, provided they do not suffer from zinc deficiency. Vitamin A is in turn very important for vision, as well as cell development and healthy skin. Pumpkin also contains zinc, which is also an antioxidant and supports the immune system. At the same time, zinc helps to keep skin and hair healthy. Pumpkin is one of the few vegetables that contains a good portion of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells and the immune system. And if that's not enough, pumpkin also contains a good portion of vitamin C and lycopene, a carotenoid, which are also powerful antioxidants.
Good for blood
Pumpkin is rich in iron and folic acid. Dogs can utilise iron from animal food better, but an extra portion is always helpful and promotes oxygen transport in the blood. Folic acid supports cell growth and blood formation.
Slightly dehydrating effect: regulates the acid-base balancePumpkin contains over 300mg of potassium/100g, which has a mild dehydrating effect and stimulates kidney and bladder activity. On top of that, potassium cannot be stored by the body and must be supplied daily.
Good for the nerves and energisingPumpkin contains many B vitamins (B1, B2, B6), which are good for the dog's nerves and energy balance and at the same time support the immune system.
High fibre, satiating - helps with diarrhoeaAlthough pumpkin does not have many calories, it is very filling because of the many fibres. So if your dog needs to lose weight, pumpkin is a good choice. In small amounts, pumpkin can also balance and soothe mild stomach and intestinal problems such as diarrhoea. For severe diarrhoea, carrots cooked as a soup help even better: Moro carrot soup to treat diarrhoea in dogs.
Two things to look out for with pumpkin
Warning: avoid bitter pumpkins - check pumpkins from the garden
Some pumpkin plants may contain the bitter substance cucurbitacin, which is toxic to dogs and humans. Cucurbitacin can occur in particular in wild pumpkins or in ornamental pumpkin plants and in their crosses. Cucurbitacin belongs to the triterpenes and can lead to the following symptoms of poisoning:
- stomach cramps
- mucous membrane irritation
Cucumbers, courgettes and melons also belong to the cucurbits and can be affected. Backcrossing or reintroduction with back mutations can lead to the presence of toxic bitter substances in pumpkins, cucumbers or courgettes, especially in private gardens. Therefore, you should be careful here and taste home-grown pumpkin plants beforehand.
If they are bitter: Hands off! If your dog has eaten bitter cucumbers, courgettes or pumpkins, you should take your dog to the vet or animal hospital as soon as possible. Here you can find more information on what to do if your dog is poisoned and what the symptoms look like: Poisoning in dogs: avoid, recognise and treat.
Too much pumpkin can backfireIf your dog eats large amounts of pumpkin, it might get diarrhoea. This is only a small hint, because generally you should only give your dog small amounts of vegetables, as its main meal consists of animal and not vegetable ingredients.
The best way to feed pumpkin to your dog
Pumpkin: feed raw or cooked?
You can feed pumpkin to your dog raw or cooked. In any case, you should chop it thoroughly so that your dog can absorb the valuable nutrients. Depending on the type of pumpkin, it should first be peeled, seeded and cut into large pieces.
- If you want to feed raw pumpkin, it is best to puree small pieces of pumpkin with a little water or oil using a hand blender. Alternatively, you can buy ready-made pumpkin puree in tins or jars. However, you should make sure that it is pure pumpkin puree without any other ingredients or spices.
- You can also simmer the pumpkin pieces before feeding, preferably by steaming, so that as few nutrients as possible are lost. Then puree it with a hand blender or simply mash it with a fork.
Now the pumpkin puree can be added to the rest of the food, e.g. as part of a BARF meal. Small pieces of cooked pumpkin can also be given as a treat.
It is good to feed pumpkin with some fat, as the vitamin E in pumpkin is fat-soluble and otherwise cannot be absorbed by the dog.
Feed unseasoned pumpkin
Like any vegetable or fruit, pumpkin should never be seasoned for the dog.
Organic and regional pumpkin is better
Pumpkin is in season in Europe from September to January. Then you can get it regionally with a good CO2 balance and if it comes from organic cultivation, it is less polluted and better for you and the environment.
How much pumpkin can I feed my dog?
To give you an idea of how much pumpkin your dog can eat per day, we use average BARF calculations:
- The daily food portion of a dog is about 3% of body weight.
- In BARF feeding, the vegetable part of the diet should make up about 20% of the total amount.
- Two-thirds of this is vegetables and one-third fruit. Around 13% of the daily portion would therefore be vegetables.
Example calculation: An adult dog of 10kg would therefore receive a vegetable portion of approx. 40g per day. Pumpkin can be a part of this with other vegetables. So we are talking about maybe 15-20g of pumpkin a day for a dog weighing 10kg.
Note: BARF rations should be calculated individually for your dog according to age, breed, size, exercise, state of health and tolerances. The above rough calculation of the pumpkin portion is only intended to give you a feeling for how much or basically how little vegetable your dog should get.
Can dogs eat pumpkin seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are healthy for dogs because they contain a lot of beta-carotene (good for the eyes!), as well as important vitamins (A, B, C, E) and nutrients: iron, magnesium, calcium, selenium and zinc. Pumpkin seeds are also considered a good natural remedy for bladder infections, incontinence or prostate diseases. They are also said to be a natural worm prophylactic, but this has not been scientifically proven. As a healing dosage, 1 tsp of ground pumpkin seeds per 10 kg of the dog per day is recommended. As a prophylaxis and for a balanced diet, slightly less is given: approx.1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. 1-2 times per week.
Pumpkin: a good ingredient for dog treats
If you make your own dog biscuits, which is not difficult, pumpkin is a very good ingredient. Pumpkin puree is often mixed with corn or rice flour (no grain), eggs and something tasty like tuna or salmon to make a batter. It can then be baked on a baking mat into little treats in the oven.
Healthy activity with pumpkin
You can also fill pumpkin puree into a designated dog toy and mix it with some curd or yoghurt or other treats if needed. If you put the filled dog toy in an icebox, your dog will be happy to lick out the ice cream for a while.
Feed pumpkin only as a test and in small quantities at the beginning
For sensitive dogs, it is best to ask your veterinarian beforehand if you can feed them pumpkin. They know your dog and its individual needs and weaknesses best. As with almost any food, there is a risk that your dog may be allergic to pumpkin or simply not tolerate it well. Intolerance can lead to bloating, diarrhea, or even vomiting. Therefore, it is always advisable to test a new vegetable in very small amounts at the beginning. Of course, if your dog shows allergic reactions such as swelling, breathing problems, rashes, itching, coughing or other allergy symptoms, you should stop giving him pumpkin and contact a veterinarian.
Conclusion on feeding pumpkin to dogs
Pumpkin is an absolutely suitable vegetable for feeding dogs. It is low in calories and satiating due to its high fibre content. It contains a lot of vitamins (A, B, C, E) and is a strong antioxidant and contains valuable microelements. On top of that, most dogs like it and it can cure mild diarrhoea. Especially as a puree, pumpkin is very versatile.
Things worth knowing about the pumpkin
The largest berry in the world: pumpkin is not actually a vegetable
Botanically speaking, pumpkins are not vegetables, but fruits.
When is pumpkin season?
Pumpkins are in season from September to November, but can be stored for several months. This means that they are still available locally in January.
Pumpkin has been known for thousands of years - where does it come from?
Pumpkins originate from Central and South America and have been known there for thousands of years. With the discovery of America, pumpkins also made their way to the European table. Nowadays, there is no getting around pumpkins in autumn, not least because of Halloween.
Record-breaking: pumpkin weigh-in
In 2016, Belgian farmer Mathias Willemijns was awarded the world record for pumpkin weighing at the European Pumpkin Championships in Ludwigsburg. His magnificent pumpkin weighed in at 1,190.5 kilos, more than a tonne.
Pumpkin has a long shelf life
Whole pumpkins can be stored at room temperature for weeks. Pumpkins that have already been cut or pieces of pumpkin can also be kept for a very long time in the refrigerator wrapped in foil.
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