The Many Benefits Of Pumpkin

Here are a few things to keep in mind before feeding your dog pumpkin.


Indulging in everything from pumpkin beers to lattes has become a rite of fall for us humans, but your dog can also get in on the seasonal fun. Pumpkin is likely already in the food your pet eats, according to FDA reports and a reading of these top-notch freeze-dried food labels, and boasts some health benefits as well. Read on to make sure you get the right kind of pumpkin.

It Can Help Digestive Issues

Stomach aches happen to the best of us (and not just after overdoing it on Thanksgiving), and dogs aren’t immune. Pumpkin can help with digestive issues.

Whole Dog Journal Founding Editor Nancy Kerns keeps plain canned pumpkin on hand  at all times. She’s sworn by it since her dog, Woody, ingested too much sand on a beach trip. After a few days of eating pumpkin, he was on the mend. Whole Dog Journal contributor Mary Straus also uses pumpkin for upset stomachs and offers these tips and recipes.

Pumpkin also acts as a binder and firms up loose stools in dogs — and it’s palatable to boot. Whole Dog Journal contributor Shari Mann suggests using plain canned pumpkin to make liver-pumpkin cookies (since liver is known to cause loose stools, adding pumpkin is essential). 

benefits of feeding your dog pumpkin
Dog Siberian Husky eating a pumpkin. Photo: Sergeeva/Getty Images

Hold the Spice

Sugar and spice aren’t too nice for pups. Though pumpkin pie may be your favorite Thanksgiving dessert, avoid canned pumpkin that has added sugar or spices. Plain canned pumpkin is the stuff you want. You can sometimes find it sold in pet supply stores and labeled for dogs (and about twice the price), but it’s absolutely the same stuff you can buy in supermarkets. 
Canned pumpkin is highly palatable; most dogs will eat it mixed into their kibble or other food, or lick it right off a spoon. But if you want to make the treat a little more festive, try these mini-pumpkin pies made with plain pumpkin.

Read Next: What Vegetables Can Dogs Eat?


  1. Beth Ann,
    You do not mention asparagus as a vegetable additive. Several years ago I read an article about human tests where cancer patients were given asparagus with great results. My puppy mill rescue (king Charles Cavalier) was diagonsed with 13 tumors in her abdomen after an MRI. I began feeding her 1tsp asparagus with her other food twice a day. My other King Charles suffered from syrngiomyalia(sp?) and saw a neurologist regularly in Charleston, SC. I took my rescue cavalier to the oncologist at the same practice approx. 6 weeks after the initial diagnosis. The MRI was repeated and she initially thought the local vet had sent the wrong MRI, but since this dog had two chips and the chips lined up exactly, they verified the discs were correct. There was no trace of the tumors at the time of the second MRI. Molly was a retired breeder dog and was about 8 or 9 when I rescued her through Lucky Star Cavalier Rescue. We believe she had bore ten or so litters. Molly lived another two years before developing doggie dementia and a brain tumor. The oncologist was amazed with her improvement and asked what I had done. My response was a “whole lot of prayer and a little asparagus”. I currently have two more puppy mill rescues, ages 11 and 8 who get purreed asparagus as well. Neither dog has teeth, so kibble is soaked in sodium free chicken broth along with chopped chicken , or scrambled egg, or chopped cooked beef and a little rice to counteract any diahhrea. Occasionally chopped green beans, chopped carrots, smashed banana and a tablespoon of vanilla nonfat yogurt about every other day – a great cold treat when it is sooo hot. I have not added pumpkin, but I think that will be next. They also get a probiotic and several natural supplements and one gets vetmedin for a grade three heart murmur.

    • In addition to being happy to get this advice about asparagus, it gave me such a lift just reading about what wonderfully good care Carletta takes of these poor sweet dogs you rescue after their heartbreaking and loveless years of puppy mill life. Hat’s off, Carletta!

    • Hello Carletta,
      I was so moved by your experience with asparagus and the wonderful care you give your rescues that I wanted to say thank you for sharing your experience and your feeding recipes.
      I too am a rescue mom and have been adopting senior dogs Instead of younger ones.. Please know I started adopting seniors because I’m a senior too and don’t want to leave a dog behind. Senior dogs are so wonderful and I encourage older dog lovers to check out the seniors at their local shelters.

  2. When I rescued my Shih Tzu, she was eating her poop. After research, I found that, they love pumpkin going in but not coming out. Problem solved. When I took her to the vet, she told me of the health benefits & to give it to ALL my “fur babies.” Therefore, every day, they ALL get a spoonful. I buy cases of it, after the holidays, when it is reduced.

  3. My shih tzu is having an awful time itching all the time. I dislike using apoquel as it has side affects for long time usage. He takes flea and tick meds every 3 months but the fleas in the grass I think bite them. Any good remedies. My other dog baby is hound lab mix is high off the ground so she has no problems. Only rescue doggies

    • My Bichon Frise had the same problem. She would chew and lick her lovely lady bits, bum and paws. I give her an allergy pill during the summer months and that helps a bit but what really did it was when we started giving her homemade food. Raw meat, vegetables and a bit of brown rice. She hasn’t been itchy for over a month now.

  4. I see the dog in the picture is eating pumpkin with the skin on. Can they eat it raw? Should it be cooked some? What kind of pumpkins can be fed? (There are pumpkins for eating and pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns).

  5. After two really nasty anal infections, I started our Basenjis on pumpkin about five years ago and voila, no more problems! During the fall, Costco sells flats of large cans of plain pumpkin at a screaming deal and we check the pull date and buy enough for the year. (Best to try a single can before buying flats to see if your dog(s) like it!) I feed a heaping tablespoon twice a day on top of their food.

  6. After a couple anal gland problems – I started the tablespoon of pumpkin twice a day – we havent had a problem since! Suzy really likes the pumpkin & if I have to give her an antibiotic or other med – just bury it in a spoon of pumpkin & down it goes. I did check to see if there were any issues with feeding pumpkin but it appears to be all good – just as long as you make sure you dont mistakenly pick up the cans of pie filling with sugar & other ingredients.

  7. Hi, Dog Friends! Love hearing what you all are doing to make your “kids” feel better! I give my 80lb Lab 6 bites (1/3 c?) cooked Sweet Potato on his Salmon and Sweet Potato kibble in the a.m. and fresh green beans (10 – 12 large) cut-up on his food at night. I give him plain Yogurt (1/4 c) off the spoon as a mid-morning treat! Mid-afternoon, he gets a large, fresh carrot to chomp on (keeps his teeth clean!). Poultry, which I used to give my Labs as a raw food, makes my current Lab’s ears inflamed. He gets dehydrated 100% Sweet Potatoes treats, with NO Poultry in it! I feed him Merrick’s kibble. He is at the perfect weight, the vets say! I’m thinking of ordering the same for me, to keep my weight right! I love the help Whole Dog Journal gives us dog-parents! Oh! I see Wilma freezes pumpkin balls! I will have to make mine larger, since Jake is a big guy…he will love this! Hugs to all of you! Stay safe!

  8. My dog loves boiled pumpkin. Of course, I try to feed the dog only the best natural products and pumpkin is a wonderful seasonal product. It contains a lot of useful vitamins and minerals. You can cook a lot of delicious pumpkin dishes. For example, you can cook soup based on meat, pumpkin and beets. It is very tasty and useful.

  9. I give my dogs ground pumpkins seeds & whole seeds daily. Being with greyhound rescue we see a lot of greyhounds with resistant worms, especially hookworms. A 2013 Dogs Naturally article mention that pumpkin seeds kills intestinal worms. excerpt of article below
    While many greyhound rescuers have to give dewormers for 6 months to a year for resistant worms, my greys have only had to their 1st off the track dewormer with no new infections.

    Pumpkin Seeds Fight Worms

    The flesh and seeds of the pumpkin have been used to heal wounds, cure kidney ailments and urinary problems and were used as a parasitic treatment on humans. In recent times, herbalists have discovered that the seeds of the pumpkin also work as an effective deworming agent against tapeworms and other intestinal parasites in dogs and humans.

    Pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid called cucurbitin, which paralyzes and eliminates the worms from the digestive tract. Pumpkin seeds have other health benefits too – they are loaded with protein, amino acids, fiber, iron, copper, phosphorus and magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, folic acid and niacin; all important nutrients to your pet’s overall good health.

    Feeding Directions

    Pumpkin seeds can be fed whole as a treat for your dog. Don’t feed him the salted seeds from the grocery store; find some raw, organic seeds instead. If your dog doesn’t enjoy them as a treat, you can grind them in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet and add them to his meals. Give him a teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight once or twice a day until he’s rid of the parasites.