By The Farmer's Dog | November 28, 2017

They aren’t just good for carving jack-o’-lanterns or baking into autumnal holiday pies for your human friends. Packed with dietary fiber, potassium, and plenty of other goodies, pumpkins are a superfood that can benefit your dog’s health (and waistline) all year long.

The Stats:

A cup of plain pumpkin only contains about 80 calories — but that comes with a whopping 10 grams of dietary fiber. That’s about 1.25 grams of fiber per ounce of pumpkin! A serving of this size also contains 2 grams of important protein, a mere 1 gram of fat, and just 5 mg of sodium.

The Benefits:

1. Pumpkin’s large amounts of dietary fiber and its high moisture content can aid with digestion, prevent constipation, and relieve diarrhea. The high moisture content in particular can be hugely helpful for dogs eating a dry food diet, as they get little to no water from their food.

2. Fiber acts as a probiotic, promoting the growth and supporting the activity of helpful bacteria in your dog’s digestive tract. Probiotics also help keep potentially harmful bacteria in check, doing double duty.

3. Natural oils in both pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are rich in phytoestrogens, plant compounds which mirror the effects of estrogen hormones in the body. These phytoestrogens can lower dogs’ blood pressure and support heart health.

4. Like other fresh orange veggies, pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene and other antioxidants which may reduce your dog’s risk for cancer. Additionally, they can promote healthy vision — talk about a superfood.

5. Pumpkin is also stacked with vitamin A, which also helps with dogs’ eyesight, but is an equally important nutrient for healthy skin, teeth, and bones.

How to Feed It:

Pumpkin can be incorporated into your dog’s diet in a variety of ways. If your dog is suffering from diarrhea or constipation, try stirring a tablespoon or two of canned pumpkin into his normal food once a day to relieve symptoms.

Feeling a little more culinary? Toast raw pumpkin seeds at home with a drizzle of coconut or olive oil and serve them as a tasty treat — or grind them up and stir them into your dog’s food. You can also combine canned pumpkin with a cup of plain yogurt and freeze the mixture in ice cube trays for a refreshing, DIY treat.

What to Watch For:

Aside from the remnants of a scooped out pumpkin from your halloween decorations, most people don’t have much fresh pumpkin hanging around — but canned pumpkin is perfectly fine for dogs! But make sure it’s plain canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. When it comes to your dog’s digestive system, all that added sugar and spice are anything but nice.

Image: Food52