Last month Daisy was unwell. She had an upset stomach which resulted in bouts of diarrhoea. That is bad enough when you have a dog with four working legs, but for a dog that cannot walk unaided, it is deeply unpleasant. The vet advised a bland chicken and rice diet, which we had already begun, but he also prescribed some paste which did the trick and she was soon back to normal. We were relieved, but of course, the bill followed! Now, we don’t begrudge paying for her treatment, but it got us thinking about natural alternatives. In the distant past, we had given our dogs pumpkin when they were unwell, so since it is now pumpkin season, we thought we would revisit the idea.
Why is pumpkin good for dogs?
Pumpkin provides a natural source of many beneficial vitamins and nutrients:
- Potassium – an electrolyte essential for muscular contraction and recovery from activity
- Vitamin C – one cup of pumpkin contains at least 11mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for its antioxidant and immune system supporting effects
- Beta-Carotene – beneficial for preventing cancer. The bright orange colour is an indication of how rich it is in beta-carotene
- Zinc – will help improve skin and coat
- Vitamin A – which is important for your dog’s vision
One of the most common uses of pumpkin is for dogs suffering from diarrhoea. The natural fibre content of the pumpkin helps to slow down digestion by adding bulk to the dog’s stool. Experts recommend adding pumpkin to your dog’s normal dog food and this has widely been reported to act quickly to settle their stomach. We used to keep small bags of frozen pumpkin in our freezer for just that purpose.
Interestingly enough, while pumpkin is a great remedy for diarrhoea, it is equally effective at easing constipation. Naturally increasing the amount of soluble fibre in your dog’s diet will also help move things along in a comfortable way. Pumpkin is gentle, unlike some conventional drugs designed to relieve constipation. Once again, pumpkin can be added to your dog’s normal food in small quantities whilst ensuring that they have plenty of fresh water. Dehydration can have a direct link to constipation and will certainly make a pre-existing condition even worse.
Since we are in pumpkin season, it’s also an excellent opportunity to make some pumpkin treats for your dog, so we have a couple of recipes for you that are as easy as pie! These make great Jackpot treats so you can incorporate them into your training.
Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Bones
Always check your ingredients for Xylitol before using.
- 1 cup pumpkin
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup oil
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
or Ingredients for grain-free
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup organic peanut butter
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut oil melted then slightly cooled
- 1 1/2 cups coconut flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir until a stiff dough forms.
- Roll out dough to approx 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut out dog bone shapes, or just bake into little circles like cookies.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes. Treats should have a slightly golden colour around the edges.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Can be stored in airtight containers for up to three weeks.
Carob Icing For Pumpkin Bones
Unlike chocolate, carob is safe for dogs. You can buy it in various forms such as bars, chips or powder and it will turn your treats into something a bit special. Melting carob can be a little tricky – it doesn’t melt as easily as chocolate. The easiest way to melt carob chips is with a little coconut oil in a double boiler on the cooker.
- Fill a saucepan a 1/3 full with water and bring to a boil.
- Once the water reaches a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer.
- Place a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan. It should fit tightly on top of the saucepan and shouldn’t touch the water. Make sure no steam gets into the bowl or it will ruin your melt.
- Put 1/2 cup carob chips and 1 tablespoon coconut oil into the bowl. After a couple of minutes start to stir them around. Continue stirring until mixture reaches a smooth consistency and has no more lumps.
- Dip biscuits into the melted carob immediately.
Make the carob icing when you’re ready to use it because you can’t successfully melt carob a second time. Store iced treats in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer!
Remember, once Halloween is over, pumpkins will be cheaper than ever. Why not buy a batch, chop, roast, puree and freeze for use throughout the year or alternatively check out these other super pumpkin recipes.
Cats can benefit from pumpkin too
One of the key nutritional qualities of pumpkin is that it is rich in fibre (the material from plants that cannot be broken down by enzymes in the body). Fibre can beneficial to cats in the following ways:
- Weight control, fibre promotes a feeling of fullness, even if fewer calories are being taken in.
- Treatment of diarrhoea. Pumpkin contains soluble fibre, and this can absorb excess water in the digestive tract, reducing or relieving diarrhoea.
- Constipation. Conversely, a pumpkin’s high fibre content can act as a laxative. The combination of fibre and moisture can be of great benefit in creating bulk that stimulates bowel movements.
- Hairballs in cats can be relieved by pumpkin through the same mechanism as it relieves constipation.
Fresh roasted pumpkin seeds, without any salts or spices, can be fed to cats. They have been rumoured to help with worm infestations. Although we don’t see as much of it in the UK, you can buy canned pumpkin without additives, spices or sugar which is also perfect for your feline friend. And lastly, you can feed fresh pumpkin that has been baked until soft.
It is advisable to start with very small amounts of pumpkin if you are planning to add it to your cat’s diet and, of course, for expert advice, speak to your vet first, especially if your cat is unwell.
If this has piqued your interest in the humble pumpkin as a superfood, then you can read more about the subject in Did you Know your Pet can Eat Pumpkin?