This Thanksgiving, countless families will enjoy diving into a holiday classic, pumpkin pie. While delicious to eat, pumpkin also offers significant nutritional value. Did you know that pumpkin offers several health benefits when fed to pets? Now granted, I’m not talking about them eating pumpkin baked into a pie, nor am I talking about your dog eating what is left of your rotting carved Halloween pumpkin. What we are talking about here is cooked, fresh or pre-prepared pumpkin. Pumpkin is one example of a human food that can be safely and regularly added to your pet’s diet.

Pumpkin Fiber

In every one-cup serving, pumpkin contains about 3 grams of fiber. Fiber is useful in promoting a sense of fullness. Fiber has the potential of enhancing weight loss as it lessens the urge to eat larger amounts of food.

For cats, fiber can help with constipation. When cats begin to mature into their adult and senior years, constipation can become a serious concern. To relieve feline constipation, veterinarians focus on choosing the right diet. Pumpkin can help out in this respect. When fiber levels are increased, there is more bulk in their stool, which stimulates the colon walls to promote proper elimination.

Increasing dietary fiber in pets can also help if they are having diarrhea. Both dogs and cats suffer from diarrhea at times, usually caused by changes in food or from eating something they shouldn’t.

Moisture in Pumpkins

Pumpkin can provide a nice amount of moisture into the diet of a cat or a dog. Those that consume highly-processed and dehydrated kibble can especially be helped. According to information presented by the University of Illinois, pumpkins consist of over 90% water.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine says that pet-foods that are void of moisture can cause a dehydrating effect on their body. This is because they require an increased secretion of gastric acid and pancreatic enzymes to digest them. Consuming additional water or adding moisture to their food helps support the animal’s natural moisture levels. Adding pumpkin to each meal or giving it as an occasional snack can help your pet stay hydrated and reduce the amount of heat in the body.

Additional Benefits

Pumpkin is also packed full of potassium, which is an electrolyte that is essential for muscular contraction and recovering from activity. In one cup of pumpkin, there is more potassium than a banana has.

Also rich in Vitamin C, one cup of pumpkin contains about 11 milligrams. Vitamin C is a necessary antioxidant that supports proper immune system function.

Pumpkin is also rich in beta-carotene. According to the National Institutes of Health, food-based beta-carotene has a stronger effect on cancer than taking supplements.

Wondering about cleaned and baked pumpkin seeds? They are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which is a benefit to both pets and people. However, it is only recommended that you feed them one at a time to your pet, and only a few in each setting. This is because their high fat content may cause them to have softer stools.

In case you are wondering, serving your pet fresh pumpkin is not necessary. You can just purchase the canned version to give to your pet. However, do not feed them pumpkin pie filling, which contains extra fat, sugar and spices that could upset their stomach.

And there you have it. When you are making your pumpkin pie this season, don’t forget to serve up some healthy canned pumpkin to Fido or Princess.