Is Pumpkin Safe for Pets?

It’s Fall, y’all, and you know what that means? Pumpkin everything! Autumn’s little darling is here for the season, but is it safe for pets? The quick answer: yes, pumpkin is safe for cat and dog consumption.  Like most things, pumpkin should be given in moderation. As always, remember to contact your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet’s diet.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Pumpkin is a natural source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. These vitamins support healthy eyesight and immune system. It’s also loaded with Zinc, which helps to improve skin and coat health. Pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, iron, and potassium making it the ultimate super food for your fur baby. It’s been known to help soothe constipation, diarrhea, and anal gland issues in dogs and cats. Pumpkin may also decrease hairballs in cats. It can help with weight-loss, helping your pet feel full when food portions are cut back. However, do not try this method without consulting your veterinarian or pet nutritionist first.

Though it is a super food, too much pumpkin can be harmful to your pet’s diet. Cats and dogs in need of a true high fiber diet should not rely solely on pumpkin. Too much fiber can lead to a decrease in protein and other nutrients your fur baby absorbs from their food, leading to nutrient deficiency. Pumpkin is also high in calories putting your pet at risk for weight gain.

Remember to always check the label for canned or store-bought pumpkin. Some companies put additives in canned pumpkin, like sodium or sugar, making it potentially harmful to your pet. Skip the pumpkin pie which often contains cinnamon and other spices that are toxic to your pet. Never give your pet an old jack-o-lantern as a treat; due to their extended outdoor exposure, jack-o-lanterns can quickly develop bacteria that can be harmful to cats and dogs.

How Should You Feed Pumpkin to Your Pet?

First and foremost, contact your veterinarian when changing your pet’s diet. Vets can advise you on the safety and proper portion of pumpkin in your pet’s diet. The general rule is one to four tablespoons per meal. Start with small quantities to avoid any upset to your pet’s current diet.

Canned pumpkin is an excellent option, as long as it contains no additives. Freshly baked pumpkin – without the seeds, skin, and stem – is also safe. Roasted pumpkin seeds are a delicious and dog-safe snack that can be ground or eaten whole. If you don’t know where to start, try finding wet food that has pumpkin mixed in, or simply add some to your pet’s wet food. Homemade pumpkin treats are a great option, and they’re fun and easy to make.

Remember to always consult a professional about your pet’s health and diet. A good rule of thumb is never overdo it. Limited quantities of pumpkin are best in order to prevent future health concerns. When served correctly and prepared properly, pumpkin is a nutrient-rich super snack!