Fall Favorite Recipe: Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Dog Treats
Jack-o’-lantern not required.
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Fall is traditionally the season of pumpkins, but canned pumpkin offers an easy way to give dogs the health benefits and great taste of pumpkins year-round. Even just a little bit of this high-fiber, low-fat food makes mealtime special for your pup. 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.
Benefits of canned pumpkin for dogs.
Canned pumpkin is great for dogs because it shares all the same benefits as fresh pumpkins: rich in antioxidants, beta carotene, fiber, and vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin E, folate and iron.
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 diarrhea 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, pumpkin may be enough to help your dog.
It’s also important that you make sure that your dog drinks plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Interestingly, canned pumpkin 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. Pumpkin may aid urinary tract health and improve coat condition in dogs who regularly consume pumpkins. It has even been suggested that this food can lead to a better immune system.
What type of pumpkins are used in pumpkin puree?
Not all pumpkins are created equal. Traditional carving pumpkins used to make Jack-O-Lanterns aren’t grown with eating in mind, so they are stringy and not very tasty. On the other hand, sugar pumpkins have smoother insides and are the ideal pumpkin for making fresh pumpkin puree.
How much canned pumpkin do I give my dog?
Depending on your dog’s size, it is recommended that you give your dog anywhere from a spoonful to half a cup. As with any novel food being introduced to a dog, start with a very small portion and, if all goes well with their tummy, gradually increase the serving size.
How do I give my dog canned pumpkin?
Though canned pumpkin can enhance mealtimes, my favorite way to use it involves stuffing it into enrichment toys. Pumpkin 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.
Avoid feeding your dog pumpkin pie filling.
To avoid feeding your dog something that is unhealthy, make sure that you are buying the right type of canned pumpkin for your dog. Canned pumpkin should be just pureed pumpkin and contain no other ingredients. Pumpkin pie filling should not be given to dogs because it has lots of sugar and spices, which can irritate a dog’s digestive system. In most grocery stores, pumpkin pie filling is sold right next to canned pumpkin in cans that look remarkably similar on the outside.
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Karen B. London, PhD
Karen B. London, Ph.D., is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression, and has also trained other animals including cats, birds, snakes, and insects. She writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life.