Typically we only eat pumpkin one time of year – Thanksgiving. As I researched for this blog and future columns in the palmcoastobserver.com I began coming across testimonials and studies about the benefits of the mighty pumpkin for our pets.
I know of two cat owners, a good friend and my daughter, who I will be passing this information onto immediately. My friend’s cat is having fur ball issues and my daughter’s cat has always had intestinal issues. Both have spent a lot of time and money on special cat food. Lucky for my cat Samantha, she often gets the “rejects.”
This is where I tell you that it is always best to consult with your vet before making any major changes in your pet’s diet, especially if your vet is already treating your pet for a medical issue. I doubt you should have to make an appointment, just call and let them know you want to add a small amount of pumpkin to your pets diet.
Fiber is an important part of all of our diets, including your cat and dog. Adding a teaspoon of pumpkin to your pet’s bowl at each meal can help with constipation, diarrhea and hair balls. Pumpkin seeds (not salted) have essential fatty acids and antioxidants are good for their skin and fur. Pumpkin seeds may also help urinary health and are filled with vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium and iron.
My dog will eat just about anything, except popcorn. At nine-years old, keeping my corgi’s weight in check is important to me. The breed often has joint issues and my little guy has started to limp. We have him on Krillex which has helped him immensely but reducing the weight is important in keeping the stress off these joints.
Substituting (you don’t want to feed them more) a portion of their food with natural canned pumpkin can help them take a few pounds off, help their tummies and give a taste treat to their kibble.
The type of pumpkin is important. Definitely not the pumpkin decorating your porch for Halloween. These will have started collection bacteria and cause problems.
Canned or pureed pumpkin with no added ingredients are the best to use as a dietary supplement. Your pet doesn’t need the additional sugar and spice. It might cost a bit more, but a trip to your local Whole Foods or the organic aisle in your grocery store for organic pumpkin would be healthiest. If you are making pumpkin pies from scratch you can put aside a little for your pet.
To cook or not to cook
Raw, cooked and canned pumpkin is safe for most dogs and cats, however if your pet has a medical issue such as diabetes, kidney issue, etc. please check with the vet first.
To ensure the pumpkin stays fresh and healthy for your pet you can freeze meal-size portions with ice cube trays. Depending on the size of your pet you can use regular size or mini ice cube trays.
Once frozen pop them into a covered freezer container so you can use what you need and return the rest to the freezer. The cube size portions will thaw out quickly and can be added to their dinner bowl.