Pumpkin's packed with nutrition.
This time of year pumpkin is pretty easy to come by and, best of all, it's good for your dog. Pureed pumpkin has about three to five grams of fiber per cup. As with people, added fiber can be helpful with constipation. The bulk stimulates the gastrointestinal walls to contract.
Paradoxically, pumpkin can also help with diarrhea, especially large bowel diarrhea. The fiber in the pumpkin draws excess fluid, firming up stools. If you want to use pumpkin as an aid for diarrhea or constipation, discuss this option with your veterinarian. You don't want to tip your pet from one extreme to the other.
Pumpkin has nutritional benefits for pets without health problems as well. It's an excellent source of potassium, which is important for muscle contractions. Calcium and iron are other important minerals found in pumpkin. In addition, pumpkin contains large amounts of various vitamins.
Vitamin A helps maintain a healthy immune system and aids in healthy vision. Vitamin C aids enzyme activity, helps with collagen for healthy joints, and is an antioxidant. Vitamin E also aids enzymes, and acts as an antioxidant, helping to slow down aging in your pet. Alpha and beta carotene are additional substances from pumpkin that can act as antioxidants.
For the dogs packing some extra pounds, pumpkin can help in a weight-loss program. Dogs fed one to four tablespoons of pumpkin (depending on weight) will tend to feel full and do less begging. The added fiber means fewer calories. Most dogs really like pumpkin, so they'll find that added dollop a real treat.
It's important to look for plain canned pumpkin when considering feeding pumpkin. Check ingredients carefully. You just want pumpkin on the label. You don't want pie-filling canned pumpkin, which has spices and other items, such as sugar, already added. Not only does your dog not need those additives, they may make him feel ill.
You can also cook and puree your own pumpkin and then can or freeze it. Avoid feeding your jack o lantern post-holiday, though, as many of these have mold developing on the inside. Raw pumpkin is not recommended either.