The Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Cats and Dogs. Pumpkin has many health benefits for our dogs and cats and is one of the human foods that owners can safely and regularly add to their pets’ diet. Some of the nutritional benefits of pumpkin include:
Pumpkin contains nearly three grams of fiber per one cup serving. Fiber promotes a sense of fullness and can potentially enhance weight loss by reducing the physiological urge to consume larger volumes of food.
Additionally, fiber can help with your cat’s constipation. As cats mature into their adult and geriatric years, constipation is a serious problem requiring a multi-faceted solution, with the primary emphasis placed on diet. Increasing fiber levels creates more stool bulk, thereby stimulating the colon wall and promoting contraction of the muscles responsible for moving stool from its origin in the ascending colon through the rectum (the three parts of the colon are the ascending, transverse, and descending colon, which then connects to the rectum).
Increased dietary fiber can also help pets suffering from diarrhea. Both cats and dogs are prone to large bowel diarrhea (also known as colitis), often from food changes or dietary indiscretion (eating something that one should not).
Moisture in Pumpkins
Pumpkin can add a healthy punch of moisture to any cat or dog diet, but especially those that consume highly processed and dehydrated kibble. According to the University of Illinois Extension’s article, Pumpkin Facts, this healthful fruit (yes, it’s a fruit and not a vegetable) is composed of 90% water.
According to traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM), moisture-deficient pet foods can have a dehydrating (Yang) effect on the body, as they require increased secretion of gastric acid and pancreatic enzymes to promote digestion. Consumption of water or the addition of moisture to foods helps to diminish this dehydrating effect. Adding pumpkin to each meal or serving it separately as a snack can promote a pet’s improved state of hydration and reduce heat in the body.
Other Healthful Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs
Pumpkin also provides a natural source of many beneficial substances involved in the day to day cellular functions. SELF Nutrition Data reports that one cup of cooked pumpkin surpasses the potassium content of a comparable volume of banana (564mg to 422mg). Potassium is an electrolyte essential for muscular contraction and recovery from activity.
Pumpkin is also rich in Vitamin C, as one cup contains at least 11mg. Vitamin C is a substance vital for its antioxidant and immune system supporting effects.
Additionally, pumpkin is a great, whole-food source of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports food based beta-carotene to yield a greater anticancer effect then supplement based forms.
Preparing pumpkin for food at home affords the collection of the fruit’s seeds, which can be cleaned and baked to create all natural, delicious snacks for both pets and people. Pumpkin seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory (among other) effects. If you offer your pet a pumpkin seed, do so on an individual basis (one by one) and only a few in one setting, as the fat content could potentially cause softer stools. Seeds can also be crushed and put into meals.
If you don’t want to go through the efforts of carving, cooking, and pureeing/mashing your pumpkin, then purchase the canned or glass bottled version to give your pet. Avoid pumpkin pie filling due to fat, sugar, and other ingredients (spices, flavorings, or other preservatives) that could cause digestive tract upset.
Source: The Health Benefits of Pumpkin for CatsThe Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Cats and Dogs by CHIP WAPLE