Pumpkin is popping up everywhere in stores this fall, but is it okay to give your dog a bit of that pumpkin puree before putting the rest in your pie? The answer is a resounding yes! Pumpkin is a super food that will benefit your dog as much as it benefits you. Below are 7 health benefits of pumpkin for dogs, and what those benefits can do for your pet.
Helps Support Eye Health
Vitamin A is essential to eye health. This is true whether you are a human or a dog. Pumpkin is packed with vitamin A. A cup of pumpkin has 9,875 IU of vitamin A in it, making it an excellent source of Vitamin A even in smaller amounts.
Pumpkin also contains Lutein and Vitamin C, both of which have been proven in a recent study to improve eye health in dogs. Since there are very few studies on how antioxidants effect studies, this is a welcome dose of science to the role of these nutrients on eye health in dogs.
Supports Your Chihuahua’s Immune System
As dogs get older, their immune system’s ability to fight off infections and other problems significantly decline. Pumpkins get their orange color from beta-carotene, a nutrient that can also help boost your dog’s immune system.
A 2003 study looked at beta-carotene when used as a supplement, and found that beta-carotene could significantly boost a dog’s immune system. This is great news for our older pups! Pumpkin also helps support immune systems with other anti-oxidants, such as Vitamin C and vitamin E.
Good for Skin and Coat
Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc and Biotin are all important nutrients for your dog’s skin and coat. These are all nutrients found in pumpkin. Zinc in particular is an essential part of skin health in dogs, with several studies linked to its benefits in maintaining a dogs skin and coat.
Without adequate amounts of zinc, dogs may develop a dry, damaged coat or even lesions on the skin. This isn’t always due to lack of zinc in the diet though, so if you think your dog may be showing signs of Zinc deficiency you should have your dog to a vet right away.
Biotin is another important nutrient for skin and coat. In a study of over 100 dogs with skin and coat issues, 91% of the treated dogs in the study improved with a supplement of just 5mg of biotin a day.
Since pumpkin contains all of these things, your dogs skin and coat will thank you for serving them a small dose of pumpkin
Pumpkin is high in fiber, which your dogs need for regular bowel movements. Just like we humans need fiber to help keep us regular, pumpkin can help give your pet healthy, regular stools. Pumpkin can both help firm up diarrhea, should your dog be suffering, and also help avoid constipation.
This is all thanks to fiber. Fiber helps feed the helpful bacteria in your dog’s gut. When beneficial gut bacteria have the food they need to grow, it helps crowd out harmful bacteria. It also helps bulk up your dog’s poop by absorbing excess fluids.
Finally, fiber can help with anal gland issues through those regular poops. Pooping is generally the time your dog expresses his glands. Regular poops improve your chihuahua’s chance of expressing them himself, before they start to develop problems.
Helps with Weight Loss
Despite being packed with nutritional value, pumpkin is fairly low in calories. This is in part because of the fact that pumpkins are mostly water. Fiber is another factor that can once again help with this. The fiber in pumpkins can make your pet feel fuller, with fewer calories needed.
Fiber can also help curb appetite, which means your dog is less inclined to beg for food relentlessly.
If you want to use pumpkin as a weight loss tool, try reducing your dog’s kibble by 25% and replacing it with double the volume in canned pumpkin. According to Chris Zink, DVM, this is a safe strategy for helping your pet lose weight.
Remember how we said that pumpkin was mostly water? This is another benefit that can potentially help your pet. Kibble is dryer than most foods your chihuahua would find in nature. Dry food can be harder on the kidneys and other organs as your dog has to work more to digest the food.
Added hydration is a great benefit for your pet, and pumpkin can certainly help with that.
May Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Pumpkins are packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are critical to your body’s health because they help neutralize the free radicals bumping around your body associated with cancer.
Oxidative Stress is a known component of many different types of cancer both in humans and in dogs. While a little pumpkin plopped on top of your dog’s kibble may not prevent cancer entirely, the antioxidants in the pumpkin may help reduce the likelihood of developing cancer.
Right now there’s no studies specifically on dogs that measure how much antioxidants help. Until more concrete research is out, it’s best to ask your veterinarian for their thoughts on whether it will help your individual pet. You can read about our own run in with cancer in dogs here.
Pumpkin has a lot of benefits for you and your pet. We hope these 7 benefits of pumpkin for dogs helped you decide to add a spoonful of pumpkin to your pet’s food for better health.
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