Share the health benefits of pumpkin with your four-legged friend.
Spicy pumpkin pies and jack o’lanterns…this time of year, these are the images pumpkins conjure up. But this fat orange vegetable is more than just a Thanksgiving and Halloween staple. It’s actually one of the world’s healthiest foods – both for us and our companion animals.
Here are 10 ways pumpkin can benefit your pet:
- The seeds are a great source of protein, carbohydrates and fiber. Roast the seeds and then grind them up. Do not add salt.
- The flesh contains soluble fiber, which helps slows digestion, and can help manage diarrhea by absorbing water.
- Alternatively, it also helps with constipation due to its high fiber and water content.
- It is great for “bulking up” your animal’s food. Most animals don’t require large quantities of pumpkin, and at only 34 calories per 100 grams, the benefits far outweigh the few extra calories.
- The flesh contains vitamin A, which is important for vision health.
- The flesh also contains vitamin C, which boosts the immune system.
- Dogs with joint problems need more vitamin C than they produce naturally, and pumpkin is a good source.
- Since it slows digestion, it also helps with weight loss, since your pet will feel fuller for longer.
- It slows the aging process with its bountiful antioxidant beta-carotene.
- The zinc in it will help improve skin and coat.
DIY pumpkin treats
½ cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons dry milk
2 and 1/8 cups chickpea flour (high in protein!)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend eggs and pumpkin; add dry milk and flour. Add water as needed to make dough workable – it should be dry and stiff. Roll to ½” thick and cut into shapes. Place 1” apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes on one side, then turn over and bake another 20 minutes.
*Try to use organic and local ingredients whenever possible.
Pumpkin has a colorful history, dating all the way back to the Aztec civilization of 1300 to 1500 AD. Throughout the ages, many cultures – including Native American, Eastern European, Mediterranean and Indian – have prized it as both a dietary staple and for its medicinal properties.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, pumpkin has a Cooling nature. It helps relieve Damp conditions, including dysentery, eczema and edema. It supports the spleen and the pancreas. It helps regulate blood sugar levels, and promotes the discharge of mucus from the lungs, bronchi and throat.
Pumpkin is great for diarrhea – and amazingly, it’s just as good for constipation. There are seven grams of soluble fiber in each cup. It helps coat and soothe irritated gastrointestinal systems, and is an excellent source of potassium, which is so critical when valuable electrolytes are lost due to diarrhea.
It is also packed with many other nutrients, including vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin and thiamin – and, from the rich bright orange color, beta carotene.
Pumpkin seeds, extract and oil
Pumpkin seeds are mini-powerhouses of nutrition. They are a valuable source of zinc, which is concentrated in the very thin layer found underneath the shell, called the endosperm envelope. The seeds also contain vitamin E, including alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, alphatocomonoenol and gamma-tocomonoenol, as well as manganese, phenolic antioxidants and antioxidant phytonutrients like lignans, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and iron.
Pumpkin seeds, extract and oil, have been found to have anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. Cooked pumpkin is a good remedy for intestinal worms, though the seeds have been found to be more effective than the flesh. The seeds are not commonly allergenic, and do not contain measurable levels of oxalates.
Preliminary studies have demonstrated that pumpkin seed extract and oil improve insulin regulation in diabetic animals, and support kidney function. A decrease in oxidative stress was also observed.
By incorporating pumpkin into your recipes, you can harness a huge punch of nutrition for your dog or cat!
Suzi Beber has been successfully creating special needs diets for companion animals for two decades. She founded the University of Guelph’s Smiling Blue Skies® Cancer Fund and Smiling Blue Skies® Fund for Innovative Research. She is the proud recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and was honored with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, for her work in cancer, from the University of Guelph/Ontario Veterinary College. The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund is also the recipient of the “Pets + Us” Community Outreach Champion Award.