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Pumpkins can benefit pets

Original Publication Date: November 24, 2014
By C. Sue Furman, Ph.D.

In the fall, stores fill bins with pumpkins in anticipation of Halloween, but pumpkins are good for more than carving jack-o-lanterns. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli and even pumpkin beer are just a few of the mouthwatering treats that can be made with this versatile fruit. Not only are they yummy, these pumpkin goodies are high in vitamin A and fiber, low in fat, and have a number of other surprising health benefits. Pumpkin also has significant health benefits for pets.

No fancy recipes or cooking are required for pet pumpkin. You can use plain, unseasoned, cooked fresh pumpkin, but canned pumpkin has the same nutritional value, and opening a can is a much simpler process. Read the label and get 100 percent pure canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix.

Pumpkin seeds carry the same benefits as canned pumpkin. Fresh pumpkin seeds can be given to pets, but most authorities recommend roasting them and grinding them up if the pet is small.

Do not buy salted seeds or add salt to seeds that you roast.

Exactly how much pumpkin you should add to a pet's diet depends on the pet's problem and on his or her size.

One or two teaspoons or tablespoons of pumpkin added to each meal is adequate to address many problems, but you should consult your veterinarian about the amount of pumpkin required for your pet.

Pumpkin is not a magic fruit, but its nutritional supplements, antioxidants and essential fatty acids provide several special health benefits. Pumpkins contain carbohydrate, protein, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, niacin, folate, and copper.

All are good for your pet, but a little goes a long way so don't overwhelm his or her system with too much of a good thing.

The antioxidants contained in pumpkin moisturize your pet's skin and give him a healthy, shiny coat. The fatty acids in pumpkin seeds also support a healthy skin and coat.

The high fiber content of pumpkin often works wonders for pets experiencing constipation. Pumpkin mixed with their food can resolve the problem in a few days.

The colon activity of cats decreases with age and can cause constipation. Pumpkin fiber adds bulk to the stool and stimulates the colon to move things along.

Interestingly, just as pumpkin can soothe constipation, it can also remedy a case of diarrhea. This is especially true if a pet has experienced a bit of colitis because of a rapid change in diet or the addition of a new food.

The high fiber content of pumpkin can help take extra pounds off of your dog or cat. Pumpkin fiber makes him or her feel full even though he or she is consuming less kibble and, therefore, fewer calories.

Put canned pumpkin on your shopping list and take advantage of the many health benefits it has for your pet.


Sue Furman, Ph.D, has published two books and a DVD on canine massage and teaches classes in pet massage, acupressure, first aid and CPR. See her schedule and submit questions at HolisticTouchTherapy.com.