It’s nearly Halloween, so do you know what else it is? Pumpkin season! You’ll get to enjoy pumpkin in everything from pies and cheesecake to soups, side dishes, and yes, especially your morning latte. But don’t hog all that yummy goodness for yourself. Save some for the four-legged members of your household. Many dogs and cats love the taste of pumpkin, but even if yours don’t, go ahead and sneak a bit of mashed pumpkin into their regular food just for the health benefits.
Pumpkin for Pets
Pumpkin is a power food for your pets. Skip the stem, the skin and stringy gunk inside, but the flesh and even the seeds pack a powerful health punch. Here are 6 benefits pumpkin can provide your pets:
- Mashed pumpkin helps with regular digestion. Ironically, if your pet is constipated, or has diarrhea, a few teaspoons in his or her food will alleviate the symptoms.
- Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants and essential fatty acids that help moisturize your pet’s skin and fur. Also, the fiber found in mashed pumpkin can help move hairballs through your cat’s digestive system instead of being hacked up on your shoes or carpet. It can also help prevent hairballs from forming in the first place.
- The oils in pumpkin flesh and seeds may help with urinary problems such as bladder and kidney stones.
- Pumpkin contains high amounts of beta-carotene and Vitamin A for vision health and Vitamin C for joint health and to boost the immune system. It also contains minerals such as zinc, potassium, magnesium copper and iron, which are essential to your furry friend’s health and well-being.
- Pumpkin is loaded with antioxidants that can help prevent some cancers and help your pet stay young and vibrant.
- Pumpkin can also keep your cat or dog fit and trim. Pumpkin has few calories, and the fiber makes your pet feel fuller so he or she eats less.
Serving Up Pumpkin
Both pumpkin flesh and seeds are good for your pets, and you can either use fresh or canned. However, don’t use the canned pumpkin pie filling, which is loaded with sugar, fat, and spices, and don’t use the jack-o-lantern that has been sitting on your front porch for a week as it may contain mold or other organisms that can be harmful. You don’t need to overdo it. Just a couple of teaspoons daily will provide the health benefits you’re looking for.
If you opt to go the fresh route, cut off the top of your pumpkin and scoop out the gunk inside as if you were going to carve it. Save the seeds for roasting. Cut the pumpkin into large pieces, place skin-side up in a roasting pan with a half cup of water, and roast at 350 degrees for about an hour. Remove the skin and mash or puree the flesh.
Spread cleaned seeds evenly on a baking sheet, coat with cooking oil, and roast in a 375-degree oven for 5 or 10 minutes. You can serve them whole as a training treat or grind them up and to your pet’s food. Save a few for yourself. They’re delish.
After constantly being bombarded with warnings about what you shouldn’t feed your cat or dog, it’s nice to find a people-food that you actually should feed them. So give them a treat this Halloween, and any day thereafter.
Powell Veterinary Service wishes you and your furry friends a happy and safe Halloween.