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There’s a lot of misinformation about feeding pumpkin seeds to dogs. Some people swear it’s a natural dewormer, others will tell you to feed it as a good source of manganese, and then people question whether pumpkin seeds are safe to feed all together. Let’s go over these three and if they’re myths or facts.
True: Pumpkin Seeds Can be Fed to Dogs
Pumpkin seeds are safe to feed to dogs in small amounts!
Myth: Feeding Pumpkin Seeds to Dogs Deworms Them
Yes, this is unfortunately not exactly true. Cucurbitacin is a chemical compound found in pumpkin seeds that people claim can deworm animals. However, the use of cucurbitacin has not been studied in dogs and it’s unclear on the amount of cucurbitacin needed to dispel worms from a dog’s body. The amount of cucurbitacin also varies in the seeds of pumpkin so it’s really a shot in the dark in terms of figuring out how much to feed to rid the body of worms. Lastly, we don’t even know if dogs can absorb cucurbitacin in the body and whether or not it could pose a toxicity in large amounts. To get rid of worms you’re better off working with your vet to get rid of worms so that your dog does not get sicker from them as they can wreak havoc on the GI system.
Half True, Half Myth: Pumpkin Seeds are a Great Source of Manganese
I see a lot of people putting pumpkin seeds into their homemade raw or cooked diet formulations as a way to meet manganese nutrient requirements. And unfortunately, pumpkin seeds are not very effective at actually providing manganese for dogs. While pumpkin seeds are a good source of manganese for humans, you’d need a large amount to meet the nutritional requirements of a dog and that is not recommended as it can lead to some major GI problems. It’s also important to consider bioavailability of pumpkin seeds for dogs, especially when fed in such high amounts. All nuts and seeds contain phytic acid which blocks the absorption of key essential nutrients. The more pumpkin seeds consumed by a dog, the more phytic acid they are also consuming. Therefore, pumpkin seeds and their nutrients are not that bioavailable or absorbable within the gut, especially because they can have a hindering effect on other nutrients. So while it’s true that pumpkin seeds are a good source of manganese - it’s a myth that they are a good source of manganese for dogs.
Won’t soaking get rid of the phytic acid? This is a technique humans use for their own consumption of nuts and in order to feed nuts to their dogs as a means to reduce phytic acid. However, this is largely unproven and a study in the European Journal of Nutrition in December 2018 showed that soaking or ‘activating’ almonds did not reduce phytates or improve their tolerance in the GI tract.
So what is the point of feeding pumpkin seeds to dogs? As part of a treat! Pumpkin seeds can be fed in a small amount ½-1tsp ground up and topped on treats or a dog’s meal. But don’t rely on them for major nutritional value of specific nutrients. This is a type of food that is much better with a less is more mentality!