How Much Pumpkin To Give A Dog Daily?

Photo by Deb on Flickr

Pumpkins will always be most strongly associated with Halloween.

The sight of them lit up on people’s doorsteps on 31st October is a sight to behold

And for me, as a Brit, Halloween is a very American tradition.

It is hard to describe just how much America is in love with pumpkins and so I thought that I would “wow” you with a few stats and numbers.

Like the fact that every year, 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin is harvested.

And that 80% of pumpkins are ready for October. 

But forget Halloween and forget pumpkin pies, what about adding pumpkin to your dog’s diet?

How much pumpkin should you give a dog daily?

Let’s find out…

What is the nutritional value of pumpkin?

Each 100g of pumpkin contains:

92g water

6.5g carbohydrate (0.5g fibre and 3g sugar)

1g protein 

And it is only 26 calories. 

It is also provides:

2% fibre

140% recommended daily allowance of vitamin A

10% recommended daily allowance of vitamin C

7% recommended daily allowance of potassium

8% recommended daily allowance of riboflavin

14% recommended daily allowance of copper

But after we have looked at the science, what are the health benefits for our dogs?

What are the health benefits of pumpkin?

Pumpkin will be a healthy addition to your dogs diet mainly because it is low in calories and high in nutrients.

I will discuss it’s fibre content later.

Firstly let’s think about vitamin A. 

Vitamin A is an important nutrient, partly because it contains a substance called beta carotene. 

There are two main ways that vitamin A is so important to your dog’s body:

[1]  Enhancing and protecting eyesight

[2] Maintaining a strong immune system by helping to produce white blood cells.

Other ways that vitamin A might be beneficial include the role it plays in keeping bones strong and the way that it might protect against certain cancers. 

Next up is vitamin C, which is known to help with the healing of wounds, to promote healthy skin and maintain healthy blood vessels. 

Potassium seems to be pretty fundamental in regulating heart beats and making sure that muscles and nerves function correctly. 

Copper plays a crucial role in forming red blood cells

As many of you might know, pumpkin is often thought to be a great cure for dog diarrhea mainly because of its fibre content.

A 100g serving provides 2% of an adult’s recommended daily amount.

Which of course, will be a much higher percentage for most dogs.

Now I will look in more detail at how much pumpkin you should feed your dog every day in the next section. 

Fresh pumpkin vs canned pumpkin

The idea of preparing and serving fresh vegetables to ourselves always seems so much more attractive than serving them from a can.

But the problem with fresh vegetables is the preparation and the storage of it.

And this is particularly true for pumpkins- I mean just where are you going to store it. 

Also as far as our dogs are concerned, canned pumpkin has a distinct advantage over fresh and raw pumpkin.

I mean apart from the fact that it comes in a can…

Curiously canned pumpkin has less water in it than fresh pumpkin: 90% vs 92%

Not only that. 

Canned pumpkin has five times the fibre content: 10% vs 2%. 

Which is good news as far as diarrhea and constipation cures go!

The important thing to remember when you are buying canned pumpkin is to make sure that it is stored in water with no added salt. 

How much pumpkin to give a dog per day?

There is no right answer to this question it seems.

The AKC believes as a treatment for diarrhea you should add up to four tablespoons of pumpkin to your dog’s food.

But the exact amount depends on the size of your dog!

However, this site recommends that a dog should be given 1 tsp of pumpkin for every 10 lbs of body weight.

So for my two Golden Retrievers who are around 60 lbs, I should be feeding them 6 teaspoons of pumpkin a day.

Which is about two tablespoons or 30 grams. 

How much pumpkin to give a puppy per day?

On the one hand, it would be really easy to say that for feeding a puppy, you should stick to the one teaspoon for every 10 lbs of body weight ratio.

But, I would hesitate to feed a very young puppy pumpkin.

Partly this is because puppies are far more likely to have softer stool than adult dogs.

And so if you are thinking of feeding your puppy pumpkin as a cure for diarrhea only consider giving it to them if their stools are much softer than usual.

I have another real concern when it comes to puppies and diarrhea. 

Diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration.

And in puppies this can quickly make them very poorly. 

What puppies need in this situation is to be checked over by a vet rather than a spoonful or two of pumpkin.

Should pumpkin be fed to a dog everyday?

I think that there is nothing wrong with feeding your dog pumpkin every day around Halloween and Thanksgiving.

After all, your house will probably be “choc o bloc” with them.

But just make sure that you follow the feeding guidelines that I have outlined above AND that:

[1]  if you are feeding them fresh pumpkin, make sure that the flesh is fresh and not mouldy or rotting

[2] that you are not feeding them leftover portions of pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup because that really isn’t pumpkin is it?!

But after the pumpkin season has finished I wouldn’t recommend feeding them pumpkin everyday.

Why?

I think that dogs should experience a wide variety of fresh vegetables.

Variety is important for our dogs from the point of view of getting different nutrients into their bodies but also because different vegetables provide different textures and smells.

And if you think about the range of vegetables that we eat across the seasons, then why not share some of these with our dogs?

And it can save on waste. The leaves from a cauliflower, the peelings from sweet potatoes, the outer leaves from a cabbage.

Preparing these different vegetables is as easy as preparing pumpkins- if not more so. 

And by exposing our dogs to different vegetables, it provides them with boosts of essential minerals and vitamins. 

Can dogs eat pumpkin seeds?

Pumpkin seeds have developed a certain health aura around them in the last decade or so.

Deluxe versions of muesli always seem to have them in and they are now a mainstay in the checkout aisles in supermarkets.

Those are those luscious green seeds that promise to be tasty and wholesome.

And, in truth, they tend to deliver on the first but not necessarily the second.

The closest nutrition I can get for pumpkin seeds is after they have been hulled.

Let’s take a look. 

A 100 g serving will provide:

559 calories

49g fat (63%)

11g carbohydrate 

21% dietary fibre

30g (60%) protein

The recommended daily allowances are in parenthesis. 

And you read it right, 100g of green pumpkin seeds will provide a human adult 63% of their daily fat allowance and 60% of their protein allowance.

What will that do for your dog?

So after all of that, my advice is to discard the seeds because any health benefits are outweighed by the huge amount of fat.

And you know what else?

All the advice is that before you give the seeds to your dog, you need to hull them, wash them and then dry them.

Can you really be bothered to do all of that?

I’m not sure that I can be…

Should dogs eat pumpkin cooked or raw?

I think that the decision to feed your dog raw or cooked pumpkin depends on why you are feeding it to them.

If I wanted to add pumpkin to my dog’s daily diet because I liked the idea of all of those fantastic nutrients whizzing around my dog’s body, then I would try to feed it to them raw.

Start off with small amounts and then gradually increase the amount that you feed them.

Also at the start, finely chop the pumpkin. 

The smaller the chunk the more easily they will be to digest. 

And if you want to add pumpkin on a daily basis, if your dog not only accepts but thrives on raw pumpkin then that is terrific.

Feeding raw anything is easier and quicker- so why wouldn’t you go raw?!

Another reason why a dog owner might be adding pumpkin to their dog’s diet might be as a home remedy for diarrhea or constipation.

If I was using pumpkin in this way, I would cut it into small chunks about 1 or 2 cm and then steam it for 10 minutes or so.

Steam vegetables are gentler on a bad stomach and much easier for the stomach to digest.  

However, if you are adding pumpkin to your dog’s diet on an almost daily basis as a cure for diarrhea, I would start off by steaming it but then after the first week, I would see how your dog does with finely chopped raw pumpkin…

Does pumpkin cure dog diarrhea?

Just a quick look around some Google results show that pumpkin is used very successfully by different dog owners as a cure for diarrhea or constipation.

And the reason for this is because of the high fibre content that you get in canned pumpkin (which is much higher than in raw pumpkin.)

What probably also helps to combat the diarrhea or constipation is the high water content found in pumpkins, which is the same for most vegetables.

But it just doesn’t sound as sexy!!

Just follow the amounts that I outlined earlier.

One teaspoon for every ten pounds of bodyweight.

And expect it to work within 12 hours…

My own secret weapon to combat diarrhea in my own dogs, is steam sweet potato.

If they have had a bad dose of diarrhea overnight, I replace their breakfast with a serving of steamed sweet potato and normally within 6- 8 hours, their stomach is fixed.

How do I know this?

Because they will poop a very orange but firm poop!

I might continue to give them smaller portions of sweet potato over the next couple of meals, where I mix it in with their normal raw food.