By Sarah Marles- Mrs P.A.W.S.
You can tell it's Halloween season with the leaves turning golden, the temperature dropping and the children settling back into school. Pick your own pumpkins are popping up in fields across the countryside and farms are enticing us in with their tractor rides, toffee apples and PYO pumpkin experiences. It's this part of October that I love. As a dog walker this season is my absolute favourite. The crowds have gone from the local beauty spots, the countryside looks stunning bathed in a golden glow with low sunshine streaming through the bronzed and tarnished tree canopies and the wildlife is crazy busy getting all their stores full to the brim before the ravages of winter takes hold. It's a great time for dogs too, as they rustle through the leaves and splash in the streams now full with rainfall after the parched dryness of the scorching summer, and chase the abundance of squirrels from tree to tree, wishing they could climb up and savage the little furry blighters!
Dogs can also benefit health wise from the season by eating the pumpkins themselves, and unusually this is one of the only fruits a dog can eat safely, with lots of health benefits.
So here's 7 health benefits for your dog provided by pumpkin:
1. Pumpkin is great for digestive issues in dogs.
Some dog owners may already know that pumpkin is a good remedy for diarrhea, but it’s also good for relieving constipation in dogs. Dogs that have IBS or require a bland diet may benefit from adding pumpkin to their food on a regular basis. It's easy to digest and the taste is actually enjoyed by even the fussiest eater.
2. Pumpkins are full of healthy goodness that's great for dogs.
Pumpkins contain a lot of fiber while being low in calories, fat and cholesterol. They contain a good amount of beta-carotene along with magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and C.
3. Pumpkin seeds are packed with health boosting vitamins and minerals.
Pumpkin seeds contain plant-based, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants along with other beneficial nutrients such as magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc.
4. Pumpkin seeds are proven to improve insulin regulation in animals (and humans) aiding urinary health (prevention of kidney stones) and in reducing inflammation.
5. Pumpkins are a great way to bulk up your dogs food with fibre without adding too many calories. It is therefore ideal in aiding weight loss in your dog, whilst keeping him fuller for longer.
6. Pumpkin is said to contain oils that help improve a dogs coat making it glossy and shiny, along with easing itchy, sensitive skin conditions.
7. Ongoing research has found that the amino acid cucurbitin, found in pumpkin and pumpkin seeds may be a natural dewormer for tapeworm and other intestinal parasites.
With such impressive health benefits, it would be a shame to limit your dogs access to this super-food to autumn time only. Pumpkin can be found canned in many super markets or online nowadays, to give your dog a natural, health boost all year round. Alternatively, you can simply puree the pumpkin pulp now and freeze them into ice cube sizes chunks ready to thaw and feed as required.
Please remember NOT to feed carved pumpkin that is not fresh as it is likely to have mould etc growing and could lead to stomach upsets. Fresh is always best.
So how much should you feed your dog?
Well, it only takes a small amount of pumpkin each day to treat diarrhea or constipation problems in dogs so it's important not to feed too much pumpkin because it is so high in fibre.
The recommended amount is between a few teaspoons per day for small dogs to a few tablespoons for larger dogs. It’s important to check with your vet first to get the recommended amount for the weight of your dog. Follow up with an appointment if digestive problems persist.
Increase the amount slowly to allow your dog to adjust to the amount of additional fibre in his diet.
So enjoy this autumn and the PYO pumpkin season, have fun and boost your dogs health all at the same time!
Happy Halloween Folks,