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Pumpkin for Pets? Nom Nom Nom!

Puppy and Pumpkins-1

Let’s face it: diving into fall is WAY better when pumpkin treats are involved. Did you know that your pet probably feels the same way? Even if pumpkin isn’t really your thing, there are some pretty awesome benefits that come from feeding it to your four-legged friend!

Pumpkins Pack a Healthy Punch

Pumpkin is high in fiber, low in fat and cholesterol, and loaded with beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and vitamins A and C. In other words, it’s a real superfood for your pet!

Pumpkins have been shown to:

  • Support digestive health. Does your pet deal with constipation or diarrhea? A tablespoon or two of pumpkin each day can help keep them regular.
  • Maintain urinary health. If your pet deals with urinary issues, you may consider adding pumpkin seeds and flesh to their diet as both are high in essential fatty acids and antioxidants that are believed to support urinary health.
  • Aid in weight loss and management. In addition to being highly nutritious, pumpkins are low in calories. This means your pet will still feel satisfied even when their kibble is occasionally replaced with this low-cal alternative.
  • Improve the condition of skin and coat. The essential fatty acids and antioxidants found in pumpkin helps your pet maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat of fur.
  • Reduce hairballs. Pumpkin fiber helps trap ingested hair so that it passes through stool more regularly, rather than building up in the stomach.
  • Deworm. Pumpkin seeds contain an amino acid called cucurbitacin, which can weaken, and even kill intestinal worms.
  • Boost the immune system. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in pumpkin are important for a strong immune system and overall health.

It’s important to understand that pumpkin does not mean pumpkin pie filling or any other pumpkin that contains additives, fillers, spices, or sugar. Never feed your pet the stem, skin, or pulp. Also, do not feed your pet raw pumpkin or leftover Jack-O-Lantern as both can contain harmful bacteria that could make your dog or cat very ill.

Aim for the freshest and purest pumpkin possible. This means canned pumpkin (unsweetened), cooked fresh pumpkin, and pumpkin seeds. When possible, go organic. 

And, always check with your veterinarian before introducing new foods to your pet. 

Pumpkin Recipes for Your Pet

While you can certainly add pumpkin directly to your pet’s food, sometimes it’s more fun when it comes in the form of a homemade treat! Here are a few recipes to help get you started:

1. Pumpkin & Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats (old fashioned, 1-minute oats, or instant) , plus more if needed- see instructions
  • 1/3 cup pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 300F (150C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add the oats to a food processor and grind until they reach a fine powder. Add in the pumpkin and peanut butter and blend until a sticky dough is formed.
  3. Remove from the processor and roll out on a lightly floured surface. (Use whole wheat flour, more ground oats, or another flour that you have on hand). Cut out cookies using a small cookie cutter of any shape, or alternatively just cut into squares with a knife.
  4. Lay the treats on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the treats are dry and hard. Let cool before giving to your pup and then store in an airtight container.

This easy pumpkin and peanut butter recipe, from It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken, yields approximately 50 small treats. Making this recipe great to share with your doggy friends!

2. Pumpkin Carrot Bites

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Stir pumpkin, egg, carrots, and flour in a large bowl until moistened
  3. Roll the batter into small balls and place on a baking sheet
  4. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes

This dog treat recipe, from Pawsitively Pets, yields approximately four dozen Pumpkin Carrot Bites.

3. Healthy Homemade Pumpkin Cat Treats

Ingredients:

  • 1 4oz can of salmon, no salt or oil added
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Add the oats to a blender and blend into a fine flour.
  3. Open the can of salmon and drain the excess liquid.
  4. Combine the oat flour, salmon, pumpkin, egg, and avocado oil and mix well.
  5. Form into small “cookies” (or use a silicone mold) and place on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until firm.
  7. Allow to cool before serving to your cat. Break into smaller pieces if needed. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days.

This yummy cat treat, from Unbound Wellness, yields about 20+ pumpkin-salmon treats; however, your count will very depending on the size of your treats.

As awesome as pumpkins are, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your pet’s diet.

Bon appétit!

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