Halloween is the season of pumpkin carving, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin spiced lattes. But did you know that pumpkin has loads of benefits for your pooch too? The flesh and the seeds each bring their own goodness to the table and can be fed in different ways – meaning your dog can enjoy their own range of pumpkin goodies this autumn.
The flesh of a pumpkin is highly nutritious for your pup, containing a huge number of vitamins and minerals to enhance their health, as well as a high fibre content. This helps your pup with:
- Digestion regulation: the high amount of fibre helps to regulate digestion, preventing constipation and helping to resolve any diarrhoea or loose stools.
- Weight-loss: the fibre content also makes pumpkin a fantastic way to help your dog to shed some pounds, as it’s an easy way to bulk up your dog’s meals - helping them to feel full without many added calories.
- Eye health: pumpkin contains high levels of vitamin A, which promotes healthy eyes
- Strong heart: the vitamin E and potassium levels help to keep your dog’s heart healthy, along with stabilising their blood pressure
- Good immunity: pumpkin offers vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, along with a whole host of other antioxidants. These support your dog’s immunity, helping to keep any potential infections at bay.
- Healthy skin and coat: the vitamin A and zinc found in pumpkin promotes healthy, supple skin, and good quality hair growth.
Feeding Pumpkin Flesh
Whilst you can give raw pumpkin to your dog, it’s often harder to digest and not as tasty as when it’s cooked. For this reason, we recommend cooking your pumpkin first and making a puree. Simply halve your pumpkin, scoop out the seeds (save these for later!), and chop it into large cubes. You can then boil these cubes in hot water until soft (about 15-30 minutes), or you can roast them in the oven at 180*C for about 45 minutes (again, until soft).
Once you’ve cooked your pumpkin, remove the skin. You can then stick it in a food processor, or mash it, until it forms a paste (it should look a bit like mashed potato).
You now have your base ingredient for loads of fun Halloween doggy treats, such as our favourites listed below. Some of these include some fatty additions – these help increase the benefits of the pumpkin, as it helps your dog to absorb more of the nutrients. Just remember that you can have too much of a good thing, and you should limit your dog to no more than one teaspoon of pumpkin puree per 5kg of dog per day. For example, if your dog weighs 20kg, you should only give them up to four teaspoons of pumpkin puree each day.
Mix your pumpkin puree with some WOOF peanut butter, and/or some ripe banana, to make a super tasty, healthy treat. This is great to smear onto a KONG classic or a PAW slow feeder activity bowl to engage your dog’s brain and keep them occupied!
Pumpkin Food Topper
Sometimes our pups can get bored of their normal food, or you may just want to spruce it up as a holiday treat. If you mix your puree with some Essential Omega-3 Oil, and/or some low salt chicken stock, you get a super healthy, super tasty, food topper. Mix this in with your dog’s usual diet for a little autumnal pop!
Pup-kin Spiced Latte
Whilst we all love a PSL, the typical one from Starbucks™ is not suitable for doggos. Instead, mix some of your pumpkin puree with a dessert spoon of full-fat natural yoghurt and a dash of warm water. If you want the full effect, sprinkle in a bit of cinnamon and a teaspoon of honey for that autumn-time feel. You can feed this in a bowl, or make it more interesting by putting it in a KONG classic!
Pumpkin Ice Lollies
A great option for those dogs that love ice cubes! Simply pop your pumpkin puree into an ice cube tray and leave in the freezer for 24 hours. If your dog is likely to get bored and leave them on the carpet (no one needs pumpkin stains in their home), this is another good one to pop in a KONG classic before freezing. This is bound to keep your dog interested for quite a while!
If you want to get a little more creative in the kitchen with your pumpkin, you can make some doggy-friendly cookies with it. These are great for cutting up into small bits and using as training treats, or you can use them whole as a jackpot reward or a bedtime biscuit. You will need:
- 300g flour (oat flour is best)
- 2 eggs
- 170g pumpkin puree
- 3 tablespoons of WOOF Peanut Butter
Beat all of the ingredients together (you may need to warm up the peanut butter in the microwave first): this should give you a dough. Feel free to add some water if it’s too dry.
Roll this out, then use cookie cutters to create your shapes. Place these onto a baking tray and into a preheated oven, at 180*C, for about 30 minutes, or until they’re hard. If you want a slightly softer biscuit, you can bake these for less time, but you will then need to store them in the fridge.
After all the fun you can have in the kitchen with the pumpkin flesh, the seeds may seem like a bit of an afterthought. However, they have a huge range of health benefits - so much so, they’re even classed as a doggy superfood! They can help with:
- Heart health: the alpha-linoleic acid and phytoestrogens that are in pumpkin seeds promote healthy arteries and lower cholesterol.
- Immune support: the high levels of zinc help to turbo-charge your dog’s immune system. Pumpkin seeds also provide good levels of antioxidants, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and even dementia.
- Energy levels: pumpkin seeds are brimming with iron and vitamin B12, which will help keep anaemia at bay and help elevate your dog’s energy levels
- Joint support: the high levels of omega-3 help to ease joint pain and keep the joints moving smoothly
Whilst some dogs enjoy eating pumpkin seeds whole, it is always wise to grind them up to avoid the risk of them choking. Clean and pat dry your seeds first, then pop them on a baking tray in the oven, at 180*C for 12-15 mins. Remember to toss them regularly to avoid them burning. Once they’re cooked, grind them up in a pepper grinder or using a pestle and mortar. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon per 5kg of dog over their evening dinner for a healthy superfood hit!
As a final note, always make sure the pumpkin you feed is fresh – don’t use one that’s been sat with a tealight in it for a few days. Avoid the stringy pulp in the middle, and make sure the stem and any skin have been removed. Roast the seeds as soon as you harvest them to make sure they don’t go off in the process.
We’d love to see photos of your dogs with their Halloween bakes – send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment down below!