As the weather cools, pumpkin pies and gardens full of ripening pumpkins often peak the curiosity of the family pet. So, is it safe for dogs to eat a little of the fall treat?
Well, yes and no.
Pumpkin–plain, unflavored canned or fresh–is not toxic to dogs, but some sweetened pumpkin products (pie, muffins, dessert bars) can cause a disruption in the pet’s digestion system or serious illness.
A Small Taste of Pie
Many pet owners don’t blink an eye at giving the family pet the last bite of a meal. When friends and family gather for a holiday meal, it’s likely someone will slip the family pet a few bites of turkey, mashed potatoes and even some pumpkin pie.
According to veterinary toxicologist Dr. Eric Dunayer, a bite or two of homemade pumpkin pie will not harm the dog. However, too much of the dessert can cause diarrhea, an upset stomach or even pancreatitis, an inflammatory condition of the pancreas.
If the pumpkin pie was commercially prepared and sold as “sugar-free”, check the ingredient label for the presence of the artificial sweetener xylitol. This sugar substitute is toxic to pets and can cause seizures, liver failure and a sudden drop in blood sugar levels.
Call your veterinarian’s office immediately if the pet has eaten any product containing xylitol.
The Dog Ate My Jack-o-Lantern!
If the family pet has a penchant for grazing in the family garden or playing with a carved pumpkin, there’s no need to worry.
David McCluggage, D.V.M., C.V.A. from the Chaparral Animal Health Center in Longmont, Colo. recommends feeding dogs fresh foods, including pumpkin. When introduced into the pet’s diet gradually, the squash becomes a healthy addition to the dog’s meals.
But, if the holiday decoration was painted, embellished with toxic permanent markers or contains a candle, it should be taken away from the pet immediately.
Pumpkin Cures Dog Ailments
Actually, your veterinarian may recommend pumpkin as an all-natural cure for diarrhea. The fibrous vegetable helps restore the balance of moisture in the dog’s intestines, making his bowel movements more regular, according to VetInfo.
Pets that turn around and consume their own feces–a condition known as coprophagia–may also benefit from pumpkin. The Partnership for Animal Welfare (PAW) recommends adding plain canned pumpkin (2 to 4 tablespoons) to the pet’s daily diet to add an unpleasant aroma to the animal’s feces–in hopes of deterring coprophagia.
Additional Information about pet care:
Sharon Kopinak, D.V.M., “Natural Diet and Natural Medicine for Pets“, Consumer Health Organization of Canada
Until next time,
Note: This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on September 14, 2010 by myself, Angela Tague. It was also posted on my personal food blog, Whole Foods Living.