The bright orange pumpkin used to come only sweet and sour on our plates and was by no means to everyone’s taste. But now so many types of preparation have spread that there is something for everyone – even for dogs.
After all, the popularity of pumpkins is due not least to the fact that they are considered to be extremely healthy, and anyone who has discovered this delicious vegetable quickly comes up with the idea of doing something good for their four-legged friends too. But is pumpkin healthy for dogs at all?
My dog ate pumpkin pie – Can dogs eat pumpkin?
Yes, dogs are allowed to eat pumpkin, because pumpkins contain many nutrients that dogs need and are extremely easy to digest when cooked. The rather neutral taste with a hint of sweetness is even very pleasant for most dogs.
If you have a food allergy, you can give him pumpkin with a peace of mind, because it is considered hypoallergenic. However, your dog should only eat pumpkins from the supermarket, because only these can guarantee that they no longer contain any dangerous bitter substances (see below).
Which nutrients from the pumpkin are good for the dog?
Pumpkin provides important calcium. The dog needs a lot of this because it has to compensate for the – too high – phosphorus content of its meat consumption.
Calcium is so important, especially in connection with raw meat feeding, that if necessary it has to be fed with bone meal or in the form of food supplements.
Magnesium from the pumpkin supports the muscles and metabolism in dogs just like in humans. Vitamin C and iron, which the pumpkin supplies, are also important for humans.
Your dog doesn’t care, because unlike humans, he can produce vitamin C himself and if you don’t eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, he doesn’t need any additional iron.
Can my dog be allergic to pumpkin?
An allergy to pumpkin is theoretically possible in dogs, but in reality, it is extremely rare and therefore rather unlikely. Rather, pumpkin is considered a hypoallergenic superfood for dogs because it is a grain-free source of fiber and carbohydrates.
That is why many ready-made foods for allergy sufferers contain preparations made from pumpkin and a single type of meat. A lot of dogs do not tolerate the much cheaper food based on grain at all and so the pumpkin is an obvious alternative.
Is there variety for pumpkin fans?
Your dog happens to be very fond of pumpkin or needs it frequently because it cannot digest a lot of food, you can alternatively give it potatoes, carrots, or sweet potatoes. But be careful, because of the solanine, potatoes should only be cooked and fed without their peel.
The nutritional composition is similar, the taste and digestibility are also similar to the pumpkin. It is only important that the vegetables are completely cooked because your dog cannot digest the plant cells when they are raw.
Your dog doesn’t know that, however, so he may beg for raw pieces of pumpkin that you shouldn’t give him.
How Much Pumpkin is Too Much for the Dog?
Due to its sugar content, pumpkin is not necessarily low in calories and, depending on the amount of food, size, and weight of the dog, it can gain unwanted weight. In addition, it is fundamentally controversial whether dogs should consume carbohydrates at all.
What is certain is that today’s domestic dogs, unlike wolves or earlier generations of dogs, are quite able to digest a certain amount of carbohydrates.
If you are feeding your dog a sufficiently high proportion of meat, it is better to serve him pumpkin or similar vegetables as a “side dish” than to give him cereal products. As long as you don’t lose sight of the right amount when feeding pumpkin, there’s nothing wrong with it.
How can I prepare pumpkin as dog food?
As a rule of thumb, the better your dog likes pumpkin, the less you have to do. Some dogs are so crazy about pumpkins that they want to steal Halloween pumpkins from front yards too.
If you have one of these, all you need to do is cook the pumpkin. The easiest way to do this is to heat slices that are about the size of your thumb in the oven. That is already enough.
Otherwise, if you’re cooking pumpkin for yourself anyway, set one serving aside for the dog before adding spices and other ingredients. It doesn’t matter to the dog whether your pumpkin dish is served in cubes or perhaps pureed – unless he doesn’t like it. You can easily find out.
If you want your dog to eat pumpkin for health reasons even though he does not want to eat it, you can try all the usual tricks.
Perhaps he doesn’t like pieces of pumpkin, but he’ll be happy to take you to puree with a little meat broth added. You will know best what to lure your darling with.
Can I give pumpkin to my dog despite his stomach discomfort?
That’s a pretty good idea. In the cooked form, pumpkin is very easy on the stomach, especially if you have squashed or mashed it before feeding. Its nutrients are well suited to help your dog rebuild if he has lost weight due to an illness.
In this case, the high calorific value is extremely useful.
If you are ever not sure whether your dog’s health problem allows pumpkin in the food, you can simply check for which applications the manufacturers of diet food – for example for liver or kidney problems – use pumpkin and orient yourself accordingly.
Beware of wild and decorative pumpkins
However, you shouldn’t feed your dog any ornamental or wild pumpkins. It is also better not to mix your dog’s pumpkin with food or food.
With these pumpkin varieties, it can happen that they still contain poisonous bitter substances, so-called cucurbitacins. Humans and dogs react similarly to the cucurbitacins with:
- severe vomiting
- increased saliva production
If your beloved four-legged friend eats high amounts of cucurbitacins, it can even lead to a state of shock or even death.
Dogs can usually not taste the bitter substances despite a significantly higher number of taste buds in the mouth and on the tongue, especially if the pumpkins are fed together with other food.
However, if you give your dog pumpkins from the supermarket as food, you don’t have to worry. It is in each case to cultivations without the bitter substances.
Incidentally, zucchini, and cucumber can also contain these bitter substances.
A clear “yes” to the pumpkin for the dog
Overall, pumpkin is a useful building block for your dog’s healthy diet if he is fed in moderation. The high level of acceptance and easy digestibility speak for themselves.
Whole grains make dog foods much cheaper, you can keep the cost of pumpkin and similar vegetables in check by giving them to your dog when they are leftover in your kitchen.