If you have a pet, you probably already know that minor digestive upsets can be a common occurrence in pets. It’s no fun for a pet to have an upset stomach, but what can you do when you notice that your dog or cat has a case of diarrhea or is straining to pass the stool? If your pet’s intestinal distress is minor, a healthy, natural treatment may already be in your own pantry. Surprisingly, plain, unsweetened cooked pumpkin can help with both diarrhea and constipation. You can give your dog or cat plain canned, puréed pumpkin or fresh, cooked pumpkin. Be sure not to use pumpkin pie filling which has added sugar and spices.
Benefits of Canned Pumpkin
The following are the advantages of canned pumpkin for your dog or cat’s diet:
1. Canned pumpkin can also help with weight loss. It adds a bit of bulk to your pet’s diet to keep them feeling full, even if their food portions are cut back. Don’t try this without consulting your veterinarian first, however.
2. Pumpkin is high in fiber. It’s also low in fat and cholesterol and loaded with beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and C.
3. Canned pumpkin has gut-soothing properties. The fiber in pumpkin can act as a binding solution through a pet’s digestive tract—absorbing excess water and therefore helping pets with diarrhea.
There may be additional medical benefits to feeding pumpkin to dogs or cats. 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.
Including Canned Pumpkin in Your Pet’s Meal
The amount of canned pumpkin that you add to your pet’s meal will vary based on the species (dog or cat) and your pet’s size. A Chihuahua, for instance, may only need a couple of teaspoons with each meal, whereas a Great Dane may benefit from half a cup of canned pumpkin. Before adding canned pumpkin to your pet’s meals, reach out to your veterinarian as a precaution. Too much canned pumpkin can lead to loose bowel movements and create an entirely different issue. It’s also wise to make sure your pet isn’t suffering from a more serious gastrointestinal issue such as pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening.
Though canned pumpkin can enhance mealtimes, a good 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 the house, any room without carpets is fair game.
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 puréed 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.
Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene, which dogs’ bodies convert into vitamin A. Too much vitamin A is highly toxic to dogs. Don’t let this stop you from introducing this beneficial gourd into your pup’s diet, however. A couple of teaspoons for smaller dogs or a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin for larger dogs each day is completely fine.
The Bottom Line
Whether you want to include your pet in a bit of autumn festivity or just provide them with a healthy treat they’ll love, pumpkin is a superfood that offers benefits for dogs and cats alike. Canned pumpkin is a delicious and safe source of fiber and vitamins for pets. So, the next time you pick up a pumpkin spice latte or dig into some pumpkin pie, be sure to include your furry friend with some homemade pumpkin treats or simple canned pumpkin, as well.
Although pumpkin is a great way to provide your pet with some comfort and ease their symptoms’, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t replace the expertise of a veterinarian. When in doubt, consult a veterinarian to see if these symptoms are caused by an underlying issue.