Halloween is when we discovered that Dog looooooves pumpkin. Once we started carving up our pumpkins, he became a canine hoover, sucking up every scrap and shred that fell to the floor.
Seeing as Dog had joined our family barely a month prior to this, my first reaction was to hustle him from the pumpkin filled room (and potential death), and go educate myself via Google. Oh good – pumpkin is not bad for dogs. It is, in fact, a good thing to give them.
I was, and still am, paranoid about what constitutes poison for dogs. I was worse in those first few weeks of dog ownership, though, with visions of death lurking around every new food-type. After all – dogs react poorly to some very strange things. I would never have guessed that grapes or onions would be something that could do terrible things to a dog’s internal organs – if anything, I’d have assumed, prior to doing research, that anything I can eat, he can eat too. And without any untoward consequences, theoretically.
So, a little Google searching turned up a number of things about pumpkin which made Dog a very happy camper. Pumpkin is good for dogs (and people). It has vitamin A, which helps in resisting infection. It has potassium for good blood pressure and iron for healthy blood. It has lots of dietary fiber, and, in its pureed form, is a natural remedy for constipation. The dietary fiber in it absorbs water, making it a good solution to diarrhea.
Further research (because I am quite paranoid about what I feed Dog) revealed that pumpkin seeds are another winner on the list of things to feed your dog. Apparently, they are a treatment for tapeworms, if you serve them to your dog ground up or in paste form. The amino acid known as cucurbitin is effective in eliminating worms, by paralyzing the worms and eliminating them from the digestive system, in both people and pets. The suggestion for worm removal is to grind fresh seeds and sprinkle them on top of your dog’s food, administered 3x a day until your pet is rid of the parasite. They suggest that the dose can range from 60 grams to 500 grams of seeds, depending on the size of your dog. I would suggest that you check in with your vet (at the beginning, to get the go-ahead, and then to ensure it is actually working, and that the worms are all gone) over the course of trying this treatment, but it is a non-chemical solution to stomach worms, and I think I’ll try it if Dog gets them.
Pumpkin seeds can also improve his urinary tract health, and contain a number of nutrients that are good for your dog’s overall health.
At the end of the night, Dog got a little pumpkin to chew on, and we stuck the rest of them in the oven to bake. We have many little baggies of frozen cooked pumpkin in our freezer, and I alternate between adding some to his food dish and to dog treat recipes.
NOTE: if you decide to bake your pumpkins next Halloween (or next time you have a bunch of random big pumpkins in your house or yard), make sure to put them in deep dishes, like a roasting pan or a high-sided baking pan of some sort. We put them on cookie trays, and they made a HUGE mess in our kitchen, and in our oven. The juices leaked out onto the bottom of the oven, and then, when we opened the oven door to check, the juices leaked out onto our floor. Not fun. However, all pumpkins, whether they’re pie pumpkins or the standard giant carving pumpkin, are edible for dogs, so you don’t need to go out and pay extra for small pumpkins for him. Canned pumpkin is also an option – not pumpkin pie filling… that has all sorts of sugar and other things in it.
The pumpkin dog treats are a particular favorite of his – he smacks his lips at me when he sees one in my hand (which is baffling, because I didn’t think dogs could do that, but there it is, lip-smacking, moist *pop* noise and all), and I make them soft enough to easily break up for training purposes. The recipe changes a bit each time, in order to get the right consistency (in my opinion at the time), and depending on what types of flour I have on hand. If you want to be able to cut out shapes in your cookies, make the mixture thicker, but if that’s not your thing, it can be a bit looser. Generally, I bake a single giant cookie, and take a pizza cutter to the cooked product.
I made some last night, and I’ve included my ingredients. This time, I decided to go for an entirely gluten-free treat, since a lot of dogs have issues with processing wheat, and I’ve run into a number of people who don’t let their dogs have products with wheat in them. Dog hasn’t shown any issues with any food he’s gotten, although he has turned his nose up at a few things. I just like to have the option of giving a dog a treat, and having gluten-free treats makes that more likely. The other thing I’ve found is that, if your treats contain peanuts or peanut butter, be extra careful asking if you can give someone else’s dog a treat. If they or someone in their family are allergic to peanuts, the dog licking them can cause them to react.
Soft Pumpkin Treats for Dogs
- 1.25 c cooked pumpkin (if you’re using canned pumpkin, you may find you need to add a bit of water to get things to an easy consistency to stir. Also, feel free to add more pumpkin to the mix, and adjust flour to suit)
- 2 eggs
- ½ c rolled oats
- ½ c pumpkin seeds
- ½ tsp ginger
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 3 c Flour (only approximate – keep adding flour until the mixture reaches the consistency you want. Use whatever type of flour you want, that is safe for feeding to dogs. More or less flour might be needed, depending on the types you’re using, and depending on whether you’re cooking it by drops, or cutting it into shapes)
The flour I used this time:
- 1 c chickpea flour
- ½ c rice flour
- ½ c oat flour
- 1 c cornmeal flour
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. This makes it much easier to remove the cookies from the pan, and makes the pan easier to clean.
Mix wet ingredients, and then add rolled oats and pumpkin seeds. Add flour, stirring, until the mixture reaches the right consistency for what you want to do with it.
If you’ve made the mixture a bit wet, you can drop it by spoonfuls, making the drops as big or as small as you want.
You can roll out a dryer mixture and cut shapes to put on the parchment paper
What I do is roll out the mix on the parchment paper, until it is about half an inch thick, or less. I cook it like that, and use a pizza cutter to slice it up into the appropriate sizes of treat.
Bake in the oven at 350F for 30 minutes, or until lightly brown and cooked through. Leave them to cool, and put away. They can store in the fridge for a few days, or put them in the freezer, and they’ll keep for a few months.
I found that this batch (the first time I didn’t add any wheat flour) smelled a bit unusual, but Dog loves them just the same. I think the different smell might be due to the addition of rice flour, because I’ve used the oat and chickpea flour in people-cookies (not called people cookies… just trying, in my own incoherent way, to indicate that not all my baking is done for the dog) before, and it didn’t smell quite like this. Not a bad smell, just…not as pumpkin-ey as I was expecting. After finding out about the powers of ground up pumpkin seeds, I think I might try putting some through the food-processor before adding them to the next batch. Not because I think Dog has worms, of course – just because it seems to me that, ground, they probably are more easily digested, meaning he’ll get the full vitamin and mineral benefit of the seeds.
Here are some other pumpkin treat recipes I’ve found, though there are plenty more on the web. My own version of pumpkin treats is inspired by these treat recipes, and others (including those that use other vegetable purees) along with the contents of my cupboards at the time I decide to make them.
The sites below are where I most recently found information about the health benefits of pumpkin for dogs: