Well hello there, Fall! Why yes, I would like some pumpkin with my…everything.
Including dog treats.
That’s right—the ubiquitous orange fruit of fall (yup, it’s technically a fruit!) is not just good for carving jack-o’-lanterns, greening your beauty routine, and making pie. It’s actually a super healthy ingredient for dogs to eat. In fact, it’s often recommended for dogs with a sensitive stomach or dogs who are getting over an upset stomach. The squash is a soothing, hydrating, and nutrient-dense option that has a flavor most pets go crazy over. It’s not uncommon to find it listed as an ingredient in store bought pet treats, too—and you can even find little pouches of pumpkin puree targeted directly to dogs and cats. However, there’s no reason you can’t just share your pumpkin with them (assuming there’s some left over, of course!).
Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Pets
As mentioned, pumpkin is the perfect food choice for dogs who are having digestive problems. In fact, whether it’s diarrhea or constipation, pumpkin can help ease the symptoms in canines. It’s not just good for sick pups—the squash can soothe the digestive tract in healthy dogs, too.
Additionally, pumpkin is packed full of fiber while being low in fat and cholesterol—basically, it’s healthy for dogs for the same reasons it’s healthy for us! It’s especially useful for dogs who are watching their waistline…it helps dogs feel full and it’s full of good stuff for them.
Pumpkin isn’t only a great treat choice because it keeps your dog away from more calorically-dense treats, but it also adds much-needed nutrients into their system. Pumpkin has lots of potassium, beta carotene, vitamin A, and iron, for starters. While your dog likely gets enough of those things from his food (if you’re feeding him a healthy diet), it doesn’t hurt to get an extra boost of nutrition at the start of cold and flu season! (Dogs can get the flu too, and all those antioxidants in pumpkin help keep their immune system healthy.) Finally, pumpkin is super hydrating, which helps ensure that your dog gets enough moisture, especially if she isn’t a big drinker.
Pumpkin Recipes for Dogs
- You can make these recipes with homemade or canned pumpkin puree, but if it’s canned read the ingredient list carefully to make sure that it’s 100% pumpkin and doesn’t have any added spices or sweeteners (and steer clear of canned pumpkin pie filling).
- In addition to being full of health benefits, pumpkin treats are a great option when you’ve got leftover pumpkin puree. Most of these recipes are easily scalable, so with a little math you can use up exactly the amount of pumpkin you have.
- If you have more pumpkin than you can use (or no time to make these recipes now), you can portion out the pumpkin and freeze it—then you can thaw it when you’re ready to give to your pup.
- Technically, dogs can eat raw or cooked pumpkin—but most dogs prefer the taste and texture of cooked pumpkin.
- Cinnamon, turmeric, and coconut oil are other healthy natural ingredients for dogs—feel free to experiment with these recipes and incorporate some of those.
- You can enjoy all these recipes right alongside your pooch pal—just don’t expect them to be full of the flavor you usually associate with pumpkin (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, maple, etc.); most of these recipes are pretty bland to keep them free of ingredients that are harmful to dogs.
It doesn’t get easier than this: dilute the pumpkin with a little water (or not!), and then freeze into bite size pieces. You can use ice cube trays or a silicon dog bone tray if you want to stay on theme. Once they’re frozen, dole them out to your dog when he’s feeling a bit heated—you might want to offer it outside if your dog doesn’t eat it quickly, as they tend to melt. For a non-vegan and only slightly more difficult version, mix equal parts yogurt and pumpkin puree before freezing.
Skin-Soothing Pumpkin Pup-Sicles
If your dog has itchy skin and you’re up for a slightly more difficult recipe with a few more ingredients, try this one, which includes kefir, brewer’s yeast, and salmon oil to help soothe a pet’s itchy skin. There’s nothing like sharing your food is medicine philosophy with your canine family members!
No Bake Pumpkin Bites
Mix 1/2 cup peanut butter with a cup of pumpkin, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and one-and-a-half tablespoons of honey. After it’s mixed well, add up to 2-and-a-half cups of oats. Mix well, and adjust wet or dry ingredients until a good consistency is reached. Roll into balls that will be bite-sized for your dog, and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet or glass container before letting them chill in the fridge to firm up. This is a great one to do with kids since there’s no oven or knives required!
3-Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies
Three pantry staples come together in a jiffy to make these healthy dog cookies. Combine roughly a cup of oats (ground to a fine powder), 1/3 cup pumpkin, and 1/4 cup peanut butter in a food processor until it’s the texture of dough. Then roll it out, cut the cookies, and bake them at about 350F until done.
Pumpkin Carrot Pupcakes
If you’re really looking to impress your dog (or her friends), you definitely want to bust out this recipe. The finished product looks fit for a kid’s birthday party, not just a dog’s. That’s because these adorable dog-friendly cupcakes even include frosting! The ingredient list in these is a bit long, including flour, egg, peanut butter, shredded carrots, Greek yogurt, and more, but the payoff is well worth it. We’re sure your dog will appreciate your hard work before snarfing them down. (OK, maybe we’re not sure about that…but your human friends totally will.)
Salad Bowl Dog Treats
These treats cram in three other fruits/veggies in addition to pumpkin: carrot, zucchini, and spinach. After mixing a cup of pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup peanut butter, and 2 eggs until well blended, incorporate 1/2 cup oats and 2 cups whole wheat flour, slowly to ensure there are no dry parts. Gradually add up to a cup more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Add in a shredded carrot, a shredded zucchini, and a cup of chopped spinach and mix until it’s just combined. Roll out the dough, cut the cookies, and bake them at 350F until they’re done (try 20 minutes to start).
OK, so this one isn’t a recipe, but dogs can eat raw pumpkin seeds in small quantities. Start with just a few, and crush them into the dog’s food if the dog is small. Dogs might prefer the taste of the seeds if they’re dry roasted first—just make sure to omit any oils, salt, or seasoning you might include in your own recipe. The seeds are full of antioxidants and fatty acids, both of which keep your dog’s skin, coat, and joints healthy. The seeds also improve kidney and urinary tract health, and can even improve incontinence in some pets.