Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin?

Cute Dog on Pumpkin outside during Autumn Season.

For dogs too, pumpkins are a great addition to the food bowl in autumn.

Autumn is pumpkin season. But are dogs allowed to eat pumpkin? Of course! We will tell you what you must pay attention to and how you can enjoy the pumpkin season with your dog safely and above all, with plenty of vitamins.

Autumn is here and it’s finally time for the pumpkin harvest. Whether it’s colourful pumpkin in the form of soup, purée, risotto or oven-baked, they are more popular than ever in our cuisine. After all, they are extremely healthy as well as looking and tasting really good. But does that apply for our dogs’ food too?

Is my dog allowed to eat pumpkin?

The answer is yes, your dog is allowed to eat pumpkin. Hokkaido, Butternut and the like contain plenty of vitamins that benefit your dog too, since this winter vegetable is rich in fibre and contains vitamins A, C and E, as well as the minerals magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.

Which pumpkins are suitable for dogs?

Edible pumpkins such as Hokkaido, Butternut, Bishop’s Hat, Muscat or Spaghetti Pumpkin are a treat for both us and our dogs. They like it puréed, roasted, steamed or baked.

Important: Only buy pumpkins in the supermarket or at an organic market.

Commercially available pumpkins have no dangerous bitter substances (cucurbitacins) and are therefore harmless for dogs. Generally, in professional pumpkin harvests, which also include zucchinis and cucumbers, the bitter substances are bred out.

Cute tiny dog outside around pumpkins in the autumn season © © lainen /
Not all types of pumpkins are suitable for canine consumption.

Is pumpkin toxic for dogs?

However, dogs aren’t allowed to eat all pumpkins. Caution is advised with pumpkins that you have grown yourself in your garden or that have grown wild in a field. They may contain dangerous bitter substances that are toxic for humans and animals.

Hence, you should never feed your dog wild-grown or homegrown pumpkins! The cucurbitacins can lead to severe, life-threatening intoxication.

By the way: Even cooking cannot kill the bitter substances.

Caution with decorative pumpkins

Decorative pumpkins, which are very popular as autumn decorations, are an absolute no-no for your dog. They aren’t suitable for consumption and are highly toxic for dogs. As a result of this, they are not allowed to eat pumpkins like this.

If you don’t want to do without decorations, be sure to place decorative pumpkins out of the reach of your four-legged friend. If not, some playful puppies or curious dogs may get the idea of trying these colourful decorative vegetables. However, if you notice that your dog has eaten a decorative pumpkin, take it immediately to the vet.

Symptoms of pumpkin intoxication in dogs

Just like with humans, consumption of the toxic bitter substances still present in wild and decorative pumpkins manifests itself predominantly with gastrointestinal symptoms. These include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Excessive salivation

Excessive trembling or convulsions are further signs of pumpkin intoxication. The consequence can also be an anaphylactic shock or even the death of your dog.

If your dog shows one of the listed symptoms after consuming a pumpkin, take it to the vet as quickly as possible or inform the animal rescue.

You can give your dog charcoal tablets as the first medical care at home. Activated charcoal, which you should ideally have at hand in your first-aid kit, prevents the toxic substance from entering the bloodstream.

If in doubt: Taste test

In order to ensure that a pumpkin is suitable for your dog and doesn’t contain any toxic bitter substances, you should try a small chunk beforehand. Furthermore, the same applies for zucchinis and cucumbers, which are also cucurbits.

In contrast to dogs, we humans have around 9,000 taste receptors and can therefore detect bitter substances quicker. Although dogs also taste something bitter, unfortunately it is often too late. Dogs wolf down their food and most have already swallowed a bitter pumpkin before the tastebuds sound the alarm.

Conclusion: Pumpkin power from the supermarket and organic market

The good news is that you generally don’t need to worry about dangerous bitter substances with commercially available pumpkins for consumption. A short taste as described is ideal to be 100% certain.

Professionally grown pumpkin varieties like Hokkaido, Butternut and the like are really tasty and support your dog’s health in many ways, making them a healthy food bowl supplement.

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