Pumpkin for Pets
October is upon us and that makes us think of all things fall including pumpkins! While they make great decorations, pies and Jack-o-Lanterns, pumpkin can also be good for our pets.
Canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling which has sugar and spices added) can be a good source of fiber for both cats and dogs. Pets with fiber-responsive diarrhea may show improvement in stool consistency if fed pumpkin. Occasionally, fiber can make diarrhea worse, so stop or reduce the amount of pumpkin fed if your pet’s diarrhea is not improving. Pumpkin may also be beneficial in treating constipation. Soluble fiber like pumpkin can pull water into the colon to soften stool.
Adding pumpkin or other fiber to your pet’s diet may also help promote weight loss and may be helpful for pets who have issues with their anal sacs emptying normally. Increased fiber can firm the stools allowing the anal sacs to empty naturally when the pet poops! Pumpkin contains not only fiber but also potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc and carotenes.
How much pumpkin should you feed your pet? Cats and small dogs can have 1-2 teaspoons per day while medium to large dogs can have 1-2 tablespoons. Canned pumpkin can be fed directly to your pet or mixed into their food. Pumpkin can be frozen into ice cubes to keep it fresh and extend the use of an open can. Fresh pumpkin can be used, too, but it is recommended to cook or roast it and do not feed the rinds, stems or leaves, only the pumpkin flesh. If using fresh pumpkin, make sure the pumpkin you choose is an edible variety and not a decorative gourd.
Not all pets like pumpkin, so don’t despair if your cat or dog is not a fan. If your pet needs more fiber, a powdered psyllium supplement such as fiber-con or Metamucil can be used instead. But, if your pet has digestive issues, pumpkin is certainly worth a try.
This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.