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Feeding Pumpkin to Dogs
Pumpkin is a popular food to feed dogs who are having digestive issues or who need an extra fiber boost in their diet. When dogs have loose stool, owners often grab canned pumpkin as the remedy. While this can work sometimes, pumpkin can also have some drawbacks. Pumpkin can be versatile in its uses for digestive issues and shouldn’t be limited just to treating loose stools. It can also be used to treat constipation, as an energy-dense treat, and can aid in weight loss.
Nutrient Info About Pumpkin - Vitamins, Minerals & Fiber
To understand how pumpkin can work effectively for our dogs, it’s important to understand the nutrient make-up of pumpkin. First, pumpkin is actually considered a fruit! From a botanical perspective, pumpkin is categorized as a fruit since it is the product of a seed-bearing flowering plant. However, because pumpkins are savory from a culinary perspective, we often think of them as vegetables.
Pumpkin is part of the Cucurbita family of flowering plants along with various squash. Pumpkin contains many antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals including Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and lots of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is what gives orange veggies and fruits their color and has many health benefits. Beta-carotene is an important antioxidant that can prevent cell damage and oxidative stress. Pumpkin is LOADED with beta-carotene so it’s a great choice for senior dogs that need an additional boost to relieve cell damage. Pumpkin also contains polyphenols which are beneficial compounds found in plants that can aid in assisting improved digestion, brain function, and blood sugar levels.
Pumpkin contains 60% soluble fiber which slows down digestion and can help manage loose stools. It also absorbs water which allows for the bulk-up and control of loose stools. The soluble fiber contains beneficial gut-soothing polysaccharides such as pectin, mucilages, and gums. 40% of the remaining fiber in pumpkin consists of insoluble fiber which can help regulate bowel movements. The combination of soluble and insoluble fiber can soothe the GI tract overall.
Also, important to know is that one cup of boiled pumpkin has 3g of fiber vs. 1 cup of canned pumpkin has 7g of fiber. If you’re looking to increase fiber intake in your dog’s diet overall, pumpkin can be tricky and cause the laxative effect because you’d need a lot of it to increase fiber on a therapeutic level. In order to give your dog a high dose of fiber through pumpkin to help with certain medical GI issues that require more pumpkin, you’d need anywhere from 2-2.5 cups of canned pumpkin in a day or meal depending on the dog’s size, which is A LOT. This is where we can compare pumpkin to other foods that might be more beneficial in terms of increasing fiber intake if that is the goal.
Sugar Content of Pumpkin
Many pet parents worry that pumpkin is too high in sugar. The glycemic index of pumpkin boiled in water is 75 (which is on the high end). The glycemic index determines the effects of foods that contain carbohydrates and their effect on blood sugar levels. Out of 100, the higher a food ranks on this scale, the faster the food’s carbohydrates are converted to glucose during digestion. High glycemic index foods can spike blood sugar as they are digested more quickly. However, carbs are also assigned a glycemic load number which needs to be taken into account when determining sugar and how it affects blood sugar. Out of 7, the glycemic load of pumpkin is 3, which is quite low. This means that a small amount of pumpkin should not increase blood sugar drastically. However, if you have a diabetic dog, it’s best to proceed with caution as every diabetic dog reacts to foods differently. Pumpkin is very low in calories and that combined with its low glycemic load means it can be beneficial for dogs who need to lose weight.
How to Feed Pumpkin to Dogs
DISCLAIMER: The content of this website and community is based on the research, expertise, and views of each respective author. Information here is not intended to replace your one-on-one relationship with your veterinarian, but as a sharing of information and knowledge to help arm dog parents to make more informed choices. We encourage you to make health care decisions based on your research and in partnership with your vet. In cases of distress, medical issues, or emergency, always consult your veterinarian.