Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Chunky Monkey enjoying his Pumpkin Puree

Chunky Monkey enjoying his Pumpkin Puree

In several of my posts I have discussed the health benefits of pumpkin, but I failed to mention that pumpkin is also a healthy treat for your four-legged companions.  Yep, pumpkin is great for felines and canines!  DISCLAIMERI am not a Veterinarian, I am a Nutritional Therapist, if you have questions or concerns about the appropriate feeding of your feline and canine companions please contact your Veterinarian.

Like humans, our 4 legged companions can benefit from the nutrients found in pumpkin.  This member of the squash family is packed with vitamin A, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc.  Pumpkin is also a great source of fiber, antioxidants and essential fatty acids.  Just keep in mind a little goes a long way, 1 or 2 teaspoons of pureed pumpkin is an appropriate serving size as iron, and vitamin A can accumulate to unhealthy levels if overfeeding.

Pumpkin supports a healthy urinary tract in cats and dogs, and some veterinarians recommend pumpkin for avoidance of kidney and bladder stones.  For digestion, the fiber in pumpkin also helps with constipation and diarrhea.  This is an especially good remedy for our Senior kitties or doggies who have a tendency to become constipated.  On the other end of the kitty digestive spectrum we have fur balls!  If your kitty gifts these to you, the addition of a teaspoon of pumpkin to his or her daily diet can help prevent the formation of fur balls (remember, it’s all about the fiber).

If you are preparing fresh pumpkin don’t forget about the pumpkin seeds which are a  great source of plant based Alpha Liniolenic Acid (ALA), an Omega 3.  Pumpkin seeds also contain Zinc which supports the immune system, cell growth, eye and skin health (think glossy coats and sparkly eyes), and is very important for insulin regulation (in humans and our furry friends).  The seeds make a great snack, simply clean the seeds and toss them with a bit of melted coconut oil.  Spread them evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  1 or 2 a day is plenty, and simply put, dogs prefer this treat over cats.  My dogs have always readily taken a seed or two, but my felines enjoy them as a toy, batting them around the floor like a soccer ball.  If you really want kitty to benefit from these healthy treats grinding them and sprinkling on a high quality wet food would be more appropriate.

What type of pumpkin should you feed your pet?  Simply put, plain (no spices or sugars).  Pureed pumpkin, homemade or the organic canned/tetra pack is what we use in our home.  A little goes a long way, so consider a serving size of 1 or 2 teaspoons.  Since a can of organic pumpkin typically contains 15 ounces you would have quite a bit leftover (it only stays fresh for about 1 week in the refrigerator).  To avoid waste,  freeze the remaining pumpkin in an ice cube tray.  After the pumpkin has frozen remove the cubes and store in an airtight container (in your freezer) for future use. When you are ready to serve, simply remove a cube and defrost in a small dish.  It will separate and become watery, so gently mix with a spoon when ready to serve.

I hope your furry companions enjoy pumpkin as ours do.

Health

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