When our dog, Summer, was nearing the end of her long, happy life, she lost interest in her food. Whether she was just tired of the same old dry kibble, or her teeth couldn’t grind the hard pieces like they used to, we found that doctoring her meals with a little canned pumpkin could often entice her to clean her bowl. We had always used pumpkin for Summer’s digestive issues and were pleased when it did the trick to help her eat as well. When she suffered a bout of vertigo, we turned to canned pumpkin again, as the dizziness and nausea made it almost impossible for our old girl to put her head down to eat. Spoon feeding her pumpkin met her nutritional needs until she got better. Turns out there are a lot of uses of canned pumpkin for our pets and it’s good for them!
'Tis the season of pumpkin everything. I can just hear Pvt. Benjamin Buford ‘Bubba’ Blue’s slow southern drawl, as he and Forrest Gump scrub the floor of their barracks with a toothbrush. Although he was talking about a different fruit (shrimp, the fruit of the sea), there are about as many things one can do with pumpkin as one can do with shrimp. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin soup... I could go on and on. Instead, let’s take a moment to find out the nutritional benefits of this fabulous fruit for your pets.
Urinary Health: Oils found in pumpkin seeds and flesh support urinary health. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory effects.
Digestive Health: Pumpkin contains 3 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving. Fiber has many nutritional benefits. As cats age, they can experience difficulty with constipation, and everyone knows a dog who has eaten something she shouldn’t (ahem, fertilizer) and ended up with a nasty case of diarrhea. Mixing canned natural pumpkin into your dog or cat’s normal food can help keep your pet regular and also treat diarrhea.
Weight Management: Another health benefit of fiber is its ability to promote a sense of fullness. In his post, The Health Benefits Pumpkin Provides for Our Pets, Dr. Patrick Mahaney says that fiber “can potentially enhance weight loss by reducing the physiological urge to consume larger volumes of food.” This is good news for pet parents looking for inexpensive solutions for their overweight pets. It’s important to consult your vet first, but oftentimes, replacing a portion of your dog’s regular diet with canned pumpkin, which is low in calories, can help your pet shed unwanted weight.
Overall Health and Immunity: Pumpkin gets its rich orange color from beta-carotene, an antioxidant that can also promote healthy eyes in animals. Pumpkin also contains potassium (for strong muscles), magnesium (for maintaining a healthy metabolism), and calcium (for strong nails, teeth, and coat).
Seeing as pumpkin is so readily available in the fall months, it may be time to whip up some pumpkin snacks for your pooch. If you are going with pumpkin seeds, make sure to offer them one at a time, and only a few in one setting. As far as canned pumpkin goes, opt for canned natural pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. Many pet stores sell organic versions of canned pumpkin. And with cook for your pet day right around the corner, there’s never been a better time to try some new recipes!