Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin?
Autumn means the arrival of this favorite orange gourd. But does the pumpkin on your doorstep and in your favorite fall recipes belong in your dog’s diet?
brendan-howard-headshot By Brendan Howard Medically Reviewed by Jenna Stregowski, RVT Updated April 07, 2023 Medically Reviewed by Jenna Stregowski, RVT Advertisement Pin FB More Tweet Email Send Text Message Print
dog with a piece of pumpkin in his mouth Credit: Sergeeva / Getty
On This Page
- Is Pumpkin Good for Dogs to Eat?
- How to Feed Pumpkin to Your Dog Safely
- What If My Dog Eats Too Much Pumpkin?
- Other Safe Fruits and Veggies
When the summer turns to autumn and Halloween approaches, pumpkins show up as decorations on doorsteps everywhere in America. They linger through Thanksgiving, and so does the question, "Can dogs eat pumpkin?"
We asked the experts, and while you should skip the high-calorie treats like pie and dessert bars, pumpkin can be a safe addition to a dog's diet depending on how it is prepared.
Is Pumpkin Good for Dogs to Eat?
The whole pumpkin isn't safe for dogs to eat, but parts of it are OK, says Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, a veterinarian toxicologist who works with Pet Poison Helpline to answer questions about toxic substances.
"Pumpkin is a good fiber source and is often recommended for chronic digestive issues, like diarrhea," Schmid says.
The safety of pumpkin for dogs is all about how it's prepared, says Tina Wismer, DVM, with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
How to Feed Pumpkin to Your Dog Safely
Here's exactly how to feed your dog pumpkin (and what preparations you should avoid). If you do want to feed your dog pumpkin, remember that treats should make up 10 percent or less of your dog's daily caloric intake.
The innards of this gourd can be used in soup stock in recipes, but they're not much use as a dog treat. Veterinarians do not recommend feeding dogs raw pumpkin.
Pumpkin seeds aren't necessarily toxic, but they are dense in calories (avoid for overweight dogs!) and may be hard for your dog to digest, depending on how you prepare them.
Canned pumpkin is safe for dogs to eat, says Schmid. "Canned or pureed pumpkin is probably best and least likely to cause gastrointestinal upset." This pumpkin can be a good source of fiber for dogs and low on calories. Canned pumpkin or sweet potato is sometimes recommended online as a remedy for either diarrhea or constipation in dogs, but some veterinarians say fiber supplements might be a better choice. Just make sure your canned pumpkin has only one ingredient: pumpkin.
When feeding pumpkin as a treat or supplement to your dog's diet, only give small amounts at a time or you could actually cause GI upset. A teaspoon is more than enough for a small dog and a tablespoon should be fine for a large dog, but ask your vet about the safest amounts to offer your individual dog.
RELATED: Pumpkin Carrot Dog Cupcakes Recipe
Pumpkin Pie Filling
Pumpkin pie filling, which may include extra sugar, spices (nutmeg is toxic to dogs in high amounts), and other additives, is high in calories and is not good for dogs.
Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin pie is often high in calories, so it's not a great part of a dog's balanced diet. It's probably OK if they swipe a tiny taste that was dropped on the floor, but watch for xylitol as a sugar substitute in pie. Xylitol, even in small amounts, is extremely toxic to dogs. Same goes for pumpkin bread—it's best to avoid giving the sweet treat to your dog.
Pumpkin Spice Flavored Foods
Let's be real: Pumpkin by itself doesn't taste like much. "Pumpkin-flavored" human food usually means cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices, which may irritate a dog's stomach. Make sure any pumpkin products you choose for your dog are made for dogs.
If you're thinking of adding something like pumpkin to your dog's diet over time, do a little research, check with your veterinarian, and remember to introduce the food slowly to watch for adverse reactions or allergies.
RELATED: How to Know if Your Dog Has Eaten Something Toxic
What If My Dog Eats Too Much Pumpkin?
Too much pumpkin, consuming the stem of a pumpkin, or the indigestible exterior can all cause problems if a dog eats them.
A mild case for a dog who eats the wrong part of a pumpkin might include mild stomach upset, vomiting, or diarrhea, says Schmid.
"If a lot is eaten and the pieces were large, you should watch the dog for abdominal pain, lethargy or sluggishness, lack of appetite, and persistent vomiting," she says. "Call your veterinarian if you see these signs."
Other Fruits and Veggies That Are Safe for Dogs to Eat
Pumpkin joins other fruits on lists of human foods that are safe for dogs to eat when properly prepared and properly portioned.
If you're curious about fruits dogs can eat, these fruits are generally safe with the right preparation:
- Tomato (but watch out for the green ones—those are toxic)
RELATED: 10 Toxic Human Foods Dogs & Cats Should Never Eat
Vegetables that may be safe for dogs to eat, depending on preparation, include:
- Green beans
- Squash (some varieties)
- Sweet potatoes