3 Reasons Why Pumpkin is a Necessary Addition to any Dog or Horse's Diet
Anyone who knows me is aware that I'm obsessed with pumpkin for my dogs. Gonzo is one of my rescue dogs, coming from North Carolina almost 5 years ago. He's gorgeous and sweet! Unfortunately, he also has a VERY sensitive stomach. Whenever the weather changes seasons, he vomits or has diarrhea. Same goes for when his favorite person, my father, leaves to return home from a visit. He'll refuse to eat for an entire day and sometimes may make himself sick.
We have tried numerous brands of dog food over the years. He absolutely cannot have corn, wheat, or soy. I think most of us know by now that none of those are good for any dog. I've experimented with mixing kibble with raw food to make sure he has all his vitamins necessary to keep him healthy and life a long, happy life. My dogs generally eat a more well-rounded diet than I do, frankly.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter much what brand of dog food or special meals I made for him in the slow cooker. I tried adding Metamucil to his diet as my veterinarian recommended. Nothing seemed to help at all.....UNTIL I found pumpkin. I would think it was some miracle food but then I researched it and realized that pumpkin has helped a lot of dogs and horses too.
1. Essential Vitamins and Antioxidants
Pumpkins contain a multitude of carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A (from beta-carotene), iron, folate, magnesium, zinc, selenium, niacin, vitamin E, manganese, copper, and protein. In addition, pumpkin is full of antioxidants, which benefit every cell of the body. Some benefits of antioxidants include but aren't limited to:
increase in energy; allergy relief; improved circulation; weight loss; improved digestion; improved skin and coat; and arthritis relief.
2. Digestion and Weight Management
Pumpkin is high and fiber and helps your pet's stomach feel fuller longer. It doesn't hurt that it is low in calories either so dogs that need to lose weight benefit greatly. It not only binds loose stool but can also prevent constipation. Strange how it works both ways, but hey that's why it's miracle food! As I've said before we tried Metamucil, but not only did Gonzo the picky eater hate it, it didn't seem to work very well. Now I mix in 1/4 can of pumpkin puree with his food and voila! He loves the taste and his bowels are perfect. Now I don't cringe when I have to pick up after him.
*note: Gonzo weighs approximately 80 lbs. so 1/4 can once or twice a day is appropriate. A spoonful for toy breeds should be sufficient. It's always best not to overdo.
Oils found in pumpkin and its seeds are believed to support urinary health. If your dogs is incontinent or has kidney stones, look no further. Adding a little pumpkin to your dog's daily diet helps to hydrate, since the fruit is 90% water. The added side effect of hydration is a reduction for itching skin and a beautiful coat.
Dogs can eat either raw or cooked pumpkin and seeds. Because of its ease, I confess I use canned pumpkin. But always use organic and make sure it isn't filled with additives like sugar. Furthermore raw pumpkin turns rancid VERY quickly.
I have learned over the years how to entice Gonzo to eat. I often mix his meal with pumpkin and a spoon of coconut oil (another of my favorites), and about once a month I concoct a slow cooker recipe and freeze the individual portions for special meals throughout the month.
Instead of buying expensive dog treats, I like to make my own. Gonzo and Beau are willing recipients and tell me honestly what they think! I recently posted a recipe for Sweet Potato and Basil Biscuits that they gobbled up with glee, so I would love to hear how your dogs like it!
Some of my favorite homemade dog treats use pumpkin. I've listed a few sites below that contain some healthy and tasty recipes for your furry friends.
- The DIY Dog Mom, Turkey Pumpkin Treats with Omega 3s
- Doggy Dessert Chef Rasberry Pumpkin Treats
- Mother Nature Network 5 Pumpkin Treat Recipes for Your Dog
A FINAL NOTE: did you know that pumpkin is also a wonderful and healthy treat for your horse? All parts of the pumpkin are safe for horses, but beware the stem is a potential choking hazard. If you are interested in pumpkin-based horse treats please visit:
- Horse Channel Pumpkin Treats for Horses
- DIY Horse Ownership DIY How to Make Pumpkin Horse Treats
- Saratoga Stalls 7 Tasty Horse Treat Recipes That Will Pamper Your Horse
Heather Wallace is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist (ESMT), Certified Canine Massage Therapist (CCMT), and Aromatherapist. The best thing that she can imagine is having a career improving the quality of life for horses and dogs alike. She and her business partner, Danelle Stukas, are the co-owners of Bridle & Bone Wellness LLC based in Monmouth County, New Jersey.