A bulldog tries to eat a whole pumpkin.

Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin?

It’s nearing pumpkin spice season and many pet parents are wondering if it’s safe for their dogs to eat pumpkin.

Good news: this oddly-shaped squash can be great for your dog if served in moderation. Just be sure not to give your pup a sip of your latte.

Nutritional Value of Pumpkin

Here’s the nutritional value of one cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin:

The data shows that this fall favorite is a great low-fat treat for your dog. Be sure to only feed in moderation, since it’s high in fiber and calories. As with humans, calories from snacks can add up, and they should never account for more than 10% of your dog’s diet.

Vitamins and Minerals

Pumpkin is also rich in many vitamins and minerals, including:

Beta Carotene

In addition to these vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is a great source of beta carotene. This is a potent antioxidant that has been noted to have health benefits in humans that can be extrapolated to our pets. Beta carotene has been shown to reduce risks of certain cancers (particularly prostate cancer), help with elevated blood pressure, and promote eye health.

Digestive Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Pumpkin can also promote digestive health in dogs. Its fiber content can assist with regularity and prevent constipation. It can be used in dogs with an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer to soften stool and allow easier defecation. In cases of mild diarrhea in adult dogs, adding a small amount of canned pumpkin to their diet can help to firm up stool. In cases of severe diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, or diarrhea in young or elderly animals, veterinary care should be instituted early on, as they can get dehydrated quickly.

What to Serve and How Much to Serve

The best way to incorporate pumpkin into your dog’s diet is slowly adding a small amount of canned or cooked pumpkin, and making sure they tolerate the addition. Intake should never exceed 10% of their daily calorie count. Too much pumpkin can cause loose stools or diarrhea. Pumpkin spice products should be avoided, as they can be hard on a dog’s stomach. Pie mix should also be avoided, due to added sugar and higher calorie count, which can cause more water to move into the intestinal tract and lead to diarrhea. Minimize feeding store-bought snacks, such as cookies, bread, or some dog treats, as they can have added sugar, butter, or sugar-free sweeteners that may be harmful for dogs.

As with all new additions to your pet’s diet, take it slowly and discontinue if any adverse signs are noted. While pumpkin is very mild and well-tolerated, it may not work for all animals. Discontinue if you notice vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, or abdominal discomfort.