Canned pumpkin for dogs can be a fun—and healthy—treat for many pups. Integrative veterinarian Dr. Julie Buzby shares the health benefits of canned pumpkin along with how it can help manage some cases of constipation and diarrhea. As an added bonus, she also gives you a recipe for pumpkin dog treats that are sure to make your dog’s tail wag.
Recently, a client mentioned to me that she was making pumpkin bread and her Toy Poodle, Toby, kept staring at her with his big, brown eyes. She could tell that he was enjoying the smell of pumpkin as much as she was. He obviously wanted a taste of whatever smelled so good. So she asked me about making pumpkin treats for Toby.
I thanked her for asking, explained a bit about the benefits of pumpkin for dogs, and gave her my favorite pumpkin dog treat recipe. (You’ll find at the end of this article.)
The next time I saw her, she told me that she’d made the treats and Toby gave them an enthusiastic “four paws up.” (She also said she didn’t feel nearly as guilty eating her pumpkin bread once Toby had a pumpkin treat of his own.)
This conversation made me realize that the various uses of canned pumpkin for dogs would make a perfect blog post topic. So let’s dive into my client’s questions about canned pumpkin in more detail.
HowPumpkin Help With Constipation in Dogs
Pumpkin has high amounts of water and fiber and helps add bulk and soften a constipated dog’s stool. In other words, it acts as a natural laxative, making the stool easier to pass.
Besides helping your pup stay “regular”, pumpkin is a great addition to your dog’s diet because it is rich in a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Potassium.
Fiber is also known to act as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in your dog’s intestines and inhibiting the growth of bad or harmful bacteria.
But how can pumpkin help both diarrhea and constipation in dogs? This is a common concern among many dog owners, so you aren’t alone if you are asking this question.
The simple answer is: pumpkin has both soluble and insoluble fibers, which interact differently with your dog’s gastrointestinal health.
Soluble fiber, for instance, acts like a sponge when there is excess moisture in your pup’s GI tract (diarrhea).
On the other hand, insoluble fiber draws moisture into your dog’s GI tract when the stool is hard and dries (constipation) to make the stool bulkier and softer.
So, in the case of diarrhea, the soluble fiber in pumpkin slows down the GI tract while in the case of constipation, the insoluble fiber quickens bowel movements.
How much pumpkin should I give my dog for constipation?
There’s some conflicting information on how much to give your dog, so there may be an element of trial and error involved in getting the dose right.
The good news is too much pumpkin will not cause your dog any serious problems, but it can cause minor issues with diarrhea or stomach irritation. Before we look at how much pumpkin to give your dog, it’s important to know why they are constipated in the first place.
Your dog’s bowel movements will vary slightly from those of other dogs, but should maintain a regular pattern. Some dogs go up to 4 times a day, while others normally go once a day.
If your dog hasn’t gone within 48-72 hours, they are constipated. However, if your dog typically goes several times a day and only goes once in 24 hours, they may be constipated as well.
In addition to frequency, look at the consistency. Does their poop appear hard? Is it a smaller amount than normal? These are also potential indications your dog is backed up.
Lastly, watch their behavior when pooping. Do they attempt to poop, but can’t make it happen? Does it take them longer than usual? Do they whine or show other signs of pain when pooping? These issues are usually caused by constipation.
Pumpkin can definitely help ease dog constipation. However, it’s also important to resolve the cause of your pooch’s constipation if possible.
Dogs sometimes eat things that their body can’t digest. Some dogs have pica, which causes them to crave and eat non-food objects. Other dogs just swallow the wrong things in the course of their regular meals.
Bones, hair, and grass are common culprits of dog constipation. Dogs love bones, but they have difficulty digesting them. Most dogs won’t intentionally eat hair. However, they can swallow it during grooming. It can also make its way into their food. They will occasionally eat grass to settle their stomach, but this is also very difficult for them to digest.
When the stomach contents are not fully digested, it is harder for it to go through the intestinal tract and find its way out.
A diet that’s too low in fiber can cause constipation. Fiber helps pull water into the waste. This keeps it soft, and allows it to work its way through the intestine without straining. When your dog doesn’t eat enough fiber, the poop can become dry and hard. This makes pooping difficult and can cause a blockage in severe cases.
Exercise stimulates the digestive tract. You may know that taking your dog for a walk can encourage them to poop. This is because when the body is active, the digestive system is also working. It causes the intestines to activate, and begin pushing waste through the digestive system.
If your dog doesn’t get enough activity, they can suffer from slow intestinal motility. This essentially means that the intestines are sluggish, and not moving things along at the correct rate.
An enlarged prostate can cause constipation in dogs, just as it can in humans. Swollen or full anal glands can also cause issues. Dogs have an anal gland on each side of their poop shoot. When they poop, these glands release fluid, which coats the poop. This carries important information about the dog, which other dogs can smell.
When the glands become blocked, they don’t release their fluid. They swell, making it hard for the poop to pass through. Anal glands can be expressed by your vet. You can also do it yourself, if you are brave enough.
Digestive disorders can also cause constipation. This includes a lack of good bacteria, known as probiotics, as well as diseases like IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease.
Other causes of constipation are not directly related to the digestive system. These include kidney disease, hernias, and trauma to the pelvic area.
But can you add pumpkin to your dog’sregular meal?
There is no harm if you add moderate amounts of pumpkin.
Generally, plain pumpkin is low in calories, so adding small or moderate amounts to your Fido’s regular meal won’t cause any problems.
If anything, pumpkin is an ingredient in most dog foods. The additional fiber from a moderate daily dose of pumpkin can help your pup feel full fast and may offer health benefits such as promoting weight loss.
How fast does pumpkin work for dog constipation?
Can too much pumpkin cause constipation in dogs?
Does pumpkin work as a laxative for dogs?
Does pumpkin make dogs poop more?
Due to its high soluble fiber content, pumpkin is very good for your dog’s digestion. If you feed your dog some pumpkin, it will add bulk to their stool. This helps reduce issues with diarrhea.