It’s that time of year…the Pumpkin Spice is back and better than ever. As you sip your seasonal latte, don’t leave our furry friends out in the cold.
Pumpkin is a wildly popular food for pups, as they seem to love the taste and don’t even realize the health benefits of pumpkin as a superfood. Well-known to be good for the gut in humans and their best friends, pumpkin is one of those squash fruits that’s been feeding us since before we even began recording time or history.
So what’s so great about pumpkin and why do people and pets lose their gourds when it’s pumpkin spice season? What pumpkin spice pet products must you and your doggo have and where can you find them? Read on…we have the skinny on those round buggers!
What Exactly IS A Pumpkin And How Do You Spice It?
Pumpkins are members of the Cucurbitaceae family. This food family includes over 700 species, and many of the Cucurbita family are squash (like pumpkins) or gourds. While we tend to think of anything round-ish, orange-ish and stemmed as a pumpkin, the reality is that they’re squashes. The most popular, and the ones that Starbucks depends on to pay their mortgage from September through Peppermint Mocha seasons are those that belong to the Cucurbita pepo group. These are your typical field, pie, miniature and naked-see pumpkins and the ones that we typically decorate with and carve for contests (although some of the larger decorative pumpkins belong to the Cucurbita maxima family).
The ‘spice’ part of pumpkin spice really doesn’t have much to do with pumpkin at all, actually. ‘Pumpkin spice’ is generally a combination of ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and allspice. Because those spices are often used in the most famous fall dish of them all—pumpkin pie—they’re grouped as ‘pumpkin spices.’
And, for the most part, as long as the amounts of any of those spices are small, they are not typically considered toxic to your dog (goes for humans too). If your dog was to ingest large amounts, especially of cinnamon, they could get pretty sick and have issues with their livers. Nutmeg has a toxin called myristicin in it, and in large quantities, nutmeg can bring disorientation, abdominal issues, seizures and hallucinations about. While ginger is often thought to be a good tummy-soother, in large quantities, it can cause fatigue and upset tummy in your dogs.
So, at a time of year where we see pumpkin spice in everything from breads, cookies, drinks, ice cream, cereals, beers, teas, yogurts, soups and even hamburgers, you’ll always want to make sure you know what is included in the ingredients of anything your pet ingests. That said, the ingredient content of pumpkin spices is typically minimal in most of those products, and it’s other ingredients that can really make your dog sick. Many foods are made with the sugar substitute xylitol, and xylitol can put dogs into kidney failure and kill them rather quickly. Raisins are also toxic to dogs and often included in many pumpkin spiced items. Caffeine isn’t great for dogs either, so as cute as a Puppucino is, be sure that it’s only whipped cream that you give your dog and not the espresso that accompanies a human’s drink.
Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater
So why should you consider pumpkin spice pet products? The most convincing argument aside from sheer adorableness is that pumpkin is full of vitamins and minerals that can make a big difference in the health of your dog. Pumpkin is full of Vitamin C, beta-carotene and potassium and it’s often used as a flavoring for picky dogs because they can’t seem to get enough of it.
For dogs who are a bit on the, ahem, fluffier side? Pumpkin is a great filler food that’s low-calorie and can help keep them svelte without sacrificing too much bland in their diet. And, pumpkin can help regulate your dog’s intestinal tract and gut flora because of its fiber content. This helps them maintain healthy weights (as well as builds their immune systems to be even stronger.)
Pumpkins are full of antioxidants that stem from the carotenoid family. They are easily absorbed and prime fighters of oxidative damage in your dog because they sit in the cell membranes and fight tons of ickies that age our dogs before their time. They’re a long-acting antioxidant like blueberries which can be difficult to find fresh during the fall season.
Paging Dr. Pumpkin
And the best part about pumpkin is that while it’s obviously in abundance during the autumn season, you can buy pumpkin any time of the year. This is good news as pumpkin makes a great addition to your pupper’s first aid kit as a tummy helper.
Pumpkin has long been used in dogs to help their digestive systems. Pumpkins have soluble fiber, which absorbs water in your dog’s digestive tract and makes their stool less runny and icky. Inside your dog’s gut, the fiber fermentation that occurs also makes fatty acids. These fatty acids give energy source to your dog’s cells and can help lower the pH level of your dog’s large intestines by stimulating water absorption and intestinal sodium. Many vets recommend pumpkin to help diarrhea in your dog.
As well, fiber from pumpkins can act as a prebiotic in your dog’s gut. Prebiotics are pivotal as they fuel and feed the growth of probiotics and helpful bacteria in your dog’s gut. Just like in humans, good bacteria in your gut makes for good tummy (and immune health) and the fiber in pumpkin can do that for your dog. Pumpkin can also help mild constipation in dogs, but experts suggest that if your dog is constipated, you find out why and rather quickly so you avoid any issues with GI backup that could lead to surgery.
Veterinarians recommend that when feeding pumpkin to your dog for whatever reason, you make sure it’s pumpkin you’re feeding them, and be especially wary about pumpkin spice products that may contain xylitol. As well, canned pumpkin spice products may have added salts, sugar and spices that could irritate their tummies and that defeats the purpose.
Perfect Pumpkin Portions, Please
When it comes to giving your doggos pumpkin, we always suggest checking with your veterinarian for proper pumpkin portions. Different dog sizes, health issues and dietary needs will obviously affect the right portion for your pet, and your vet is the first resource when it comes to making sure your pooch is healthy.
Generally speaking, a teaspoon/tablespoon a day could be what the doctor ordered, but it could be as much as two-four ounces of canned pumpkin a meal. That’s if you’re adding to kibble or canned/wet dog food. If you are adding pumpkin to your dog’s store-bought food, just remember that you may want to pull a hair back on the portion size of the food since the pumpkin will act as filler.
If you make your dog’s food, pumpkin is a fabulous ingredient as it can be a carb that can be combined with rice (or just used as the carb content). It’s considered a fruit, but offers a vegetable serving when looking at ratios of ingredients for appropriate homemade dog food proportions and it’s a great way to entice picky dogs to eat their meals
Whatever you give, be careful not to give your dog the leftover from your porch pumpkins. Pumpkins that you’ve carved (or not) and have been sitting out on your porch/yard as decorations are harbors for bacteria and mold and you don’t want to take chances of making your pup sick. Especially not when you can by 15 oz. cans of organic pumpkin for a little more than a dollar.
You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream For Pumpkin Spice
It’s almost a rite of the seasonal passage, though, isn’t it? To indulge in all the pumpkin spiced pet products we can just makes this time of year even more fun for our pups, doesn’t it? That said, we’ve scoured the globe and asked dog parents what their favorite pumpkin spiced pet products were and we’re sharing them with you. Rest assured, they’re safe for Fido and bound to make this time of year even more fall-licious than it already is.
Petguide’s Top Pumpkin Spice Pet Products
1.Pumpkin Spice Pet Cologne