Feeding Your Dog Pumpkin: Diarrhea, Risks, Dosage, and More

Written by Austin S.
Updated: June 18, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/MirasWonderland
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Chocolates, grapes, onions, garlic, and some artificial sweeteners are among foods that are actually toxic to dogs. Therefore it’s necessary as a pet parent that you find out if the food you intend to feed your dog is harmful or not. 

So, is pumpkin safe for your dog? The short answer is yes!. For dogs, pumpkins can be a very nutritious treat filled with fiber and essential micronutrients. When fed to dogs in the proper manner, it can help improve their digestive health. 

In this guide, you’ll learn about the benefits of feeding your dog pumpkin, the risk involved, and much more. 

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Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Pumpkin

  • Using pumpkin as a treat or including it in your dog’s diet can help soothe and regulate its digestive system. It comes in handy when your dog experiences diarrhea. 
  • Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, C, E, and antioxidants. When your dog eats pumpkin, it benefits from vital supplements for brain and eye development and immune support.  
  • A pumpkin diet for your dog can also aid in weight control since it’s low in calories and high in fiber content.  
  • On the other hand of the spectrum, a dog suffering from mild constipation could be relieved by adding a small amount of pumpkin per meal to their diet. 
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Dosage: How Much Pumpkin is Safe for Your Dog?

Too much of everything is not good, and this definitely applies to feeding your pup pumpkin. Therefore it’s essential that you know the right quantity of pumpkin to feed your dog 

  • Add 1 to 4 teaspoons of pumpkin to your dog’s diet if your goal is to treat your dog for diarrhea. It’s advisable to start off with a small amount of pumpkin and gradually increase the quantity. This will help you gauge your dog’s reaction or sensitivity to pumpkin. 
  • Most fiber-rich ingredients/treats like pumpkin can cause dehydration, so be sure to give your dog plenty of water to drink before and after eating a pumpkin supplemented meal.  
  • Consider your dog’s weight before deciding on the amount of pumpkin to feed it. Larger dogs can handle two teaspoons or more per day, while smaller dogs can have just about a teaspoon. 

Risks Involved in Feeding Pumpkin to Your Dog

Here are some of the consequences of feeding your dog the wrong dosage of pumpkin: 

Nutrient Deficiency 

As earlier stated, pumpkins are rich in fiber, but excessive fiber intake can be detrimental to your dog’s nutrition. The high fiber content in your dog’s diet can decrease the rate at which it absorbs other nutrients, thereby putting your pup at the risk of deficiency. 

High Calories

Besides fiber, pumpkins, a starchy vegetable, are also high in calories. Feeding your canine buddy any food that contributes to more than 10% of your dog’s calorie intake is probably not a good idea. 

Sodium Content 

Check for salt content before purchasing canned pumpkins for your dog. Some canned pumpkin brands can contain about 600 milligrams of sodium per cup, which is too much for dogs with pre-existing heart or kidney conditions.  

Excess Vitamin A 

Pumpkins are rich in vitamin A, but large doses of vitamin A can be detrimental to dogs.  Ingesting too much pumpkin may result in vitamin A poisoning with symptoms such as drowsiness, irritability, vomiting, and peeling of the skin. 

What Type of Pumpkin to Serve Your Dog 

Plain canned pumpkin is the best for dogs. That means you have to serve it without seasonings, spices, and pie filling that humans enjoy. 

Both canned and fresh pumpkin are good sources of fiber and nutrients, but fresh pumpkin contains a lower concentration of nutrients and fiber than canned pumpkin. The reason is that fresh pumpkin has higher water composition compared to canned pumpkin. 

However, canned pumpkins containing additives, fillers, and spices like nutmeg and cinnamon can irritate your pooch’s stomach, making him very sick. Large doses of cinnamon can induce hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver issues. Nutmeg contains myristicin, a toxin that can cause high blood pressure, disorientation, and seizures in your dog. 

Additionally, be wary of feeding your dog pumpkin pie filling, and if you must, make sure to check the ingredient list carefully. Some contain the artificial sweetener known as xylitol, which can be dangerous for dogs. Small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, liver failure, seizures, and even death in extreme cases. 

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Pumpkin Parts to Avoid 

If you choose to feed your dog raw pumpkin, you should know that it has a tougher texture and is more difficult to digest than processed pumpkin. However, some dogs enjoy eating and can tolerate small amounts of raw pumpkin. 

Even if your dog can tolerate fresh pumpkin, some parts are an absolute no-no for your dog

  • Pumpkin pulp (the mushy part at the center) should not be consumed. 
  • Pumpkin rind and stems can cause an irritable stomach and indigestion. Prevent your dog from eating these so the solution doesn’t become the problem. 
  • Old Jack-o-lanterns sitting out for days should not be recycled as treats for your dog. They might already be infested with mold and bacteria that could pose a threat to your dogs. 

How to Prepare Pumpkins for Your Dog.

If your dog enjoys plain fresh pumpkin more, ensure you bake it until it becomes soft. When it’s done, let it cool, remove the seeds, then serve. Canned pumpkin can be given to your dog as is. However, if you want to scintillate your dog’s palate, you can create a  DIY pumpkin treat with household ingredients. 

  • 2½ cups of oat flour or whole wheat 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 3 teaspoons of almond or peanut butter

Use the oven to melt these ingredients, combine and stir, design into desired cookie shapes, and reinsert them into the oven and let it bake at 180° F for 30 minutes. 

Pumpkin Seeds for Dogs.

Feeding your dog pumpkin seeds is also beneficial to your dog’s health. 

Pumpkin seeds comprise various minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin A, B, niacin, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and folic acid. Plus some trace elements like manganese, iron, potassium, and sodium. 

Pumpkin seeds also contain antioxidants that aid in preventing dementia, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. 

Preparing Pumpkin Seed for Your Dog.

Most seeds, including pumpkin seeds, contain the anti-nutrient called phytic acid. Phytic acid impedes the absorption of nutrients during digestion, and the best way to remove it from seeds is by soaking. 

Here’s how to prepare pumpkin seeds for your dog: 

  • Soak: Soaking the pumpkin seeds with a bit of salt will help leech out the phytic acid. Salt because phytic acid binds to minerals, and salt contains sodium. About ¼ teaspoon of salt is enough for 4 cups of water.
  • Wash: After soaking, you need to rinse it repeatedly to remove the phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors, and salts that have been extracted from the seed. 
  • Dry: For easy grinding of the seeds, you may need to dry them first. So, spread the seeds in a tray lined with a clean dish towel to absorb excess moisture. Let them sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours before proceeding to grind. 
  • Grind: Use a food processor to grind the seeds into a coarse powder. Grinding is essential because seed cells and plant matter contain cellulose. Cellulose is an indigestible fiber that makes the digestion of seeds harder for dogs. Hence, breaking up cellulose will help your dog benefit from all the nutrients pumpkin seeds can offer. 

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds 

Roasted pumpkin seeds can serve as crunchy treats you can feed to your dog on walks or in the park. Here’s how to prepare roasted pumpkin seeds: 

  • Split your pumpkin into two and extract the seeds
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F 
  • Roast pumpkin for 40-60 minutes, depending on the quantity
  • Allow to cool and share with your furry friend

Best Way to Store Pumpkin For Your Dog.

Due to limitations on the amount of pumpkin you can feed to your dog per meal, chances are you might have some leftovers. No worries, here’s how to preserve surplus pumpkin puree:

  • You can freeze your surplus pumpkin puree. You can get creative by freezing it in an ice cube tray and turning it into frozen treats. 
  • You can pour it into an airtight container and refrigerate it if you’re going to need the leftover puree sooner rather than later. 
  • Powdered seeds can be stored in an airtight jar and kept in the refrigerator for up to a month. 

Conclusion 

Dogs can eat pumpkins, and yes, it’s beneficial to their health. But too much of everything is not good, so it must be fed to your dog in moderation. 

Follow some of the instructions that have been discussed above on how to prepare pumpkin puree or seeds and the acceptable quantity. This will help you guide against some of the risks involved in feeding your dog pumpkin. 

Remember to always read and research labels before purchasing canned pumpkins to ensure none of the ingredients can be toxic or threatening to your dog. 

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About the Author

Growing up in rural New England on a small scale farm gave me a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wild animal species, habitats, animal evolutions, dogs, cats, and more. I've always been surrounded by pets and believe the best dog and best cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. It's my mission to help you learn more about wild animals, and how to care for your pets better with carefully reviewed products.