Sweet large golden brown dog sitting in a huge pumpkin patch How much pumpkin should a dog eat?

How Much Pumpkin to Give a Dog? Health Benefits & Risks

Last updated on January 18th, 2024 at 09:11 pm

Pumpkin can be a rich source of minerals and fiber for your dog. Additionally, it can help with your dog’s occasional diarrhea and constipation. However, giving your dog the correct amounts of pumpkin is essential, or you could make matters worse!

The amount of pumpkin to give your dog should be one to four tablespoons for medium to large dogs and one-half to three teaspoons for small dogs. The pumpkin can be given one to two times a day with a meal for a few days until your dog’s stools are normal again. For long-term use, pumpkin may be given daily if it is less than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake.

Keep reading to see the conversion table below based on dog size and what type and brand of pumpkin to give your dog.

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How Pumpkin Can Help

Golden Retriever who appears to be constipated squatting on grass to poop.

For relief of constipation or diahrrea, pumpkin can help get your dog back on track. Dogs have sensitive stomachs and often eat things like twigs, bark, plants or leftover food debris at the park which can upset their tummies. Changing a dog’s diet too abruptly or feeding something that does not agree with your pup can also cause some temporary GI distress.

However, if your dog seems sick, feverish, lethargic, backed up, or has bloody stools, take him to the vet. This could be a symptom of something very serious such as a disease like Parvo or a GI blockage. Puppies and underweight dogs are most at risk when experiencing severe diarrhea.

But in many cases, dogs will experience mild stomach irritation that pumpkin can relieve. For example, one of my rescue dogs has a very sensitive stomach and is rather anxious. As a result, she periodically gets what the vet calls “stress colitis”, and it usually results in diarrhea for several days. I have found that pumpkin can help get her back to normal. I also add a little clay prescribed by the vet if the diarrhea is really bad.

Amount of Pumpkin to Give your Dog Based on Size of Dog

You can give pumpkin to your dog once or twice a day by adding it to a meal. Start with the lowest amount, then increase until your dog’s stomach has calmed down and stabilized. If your dog worsens, reduce the amount to see if your dog improves. If your dog continues to worsen, discontinue the pumpkin and contact your vet.

According to veterinary advisors at BeChewy.com, 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds can be given. So small dogs should be given 1/2 to 3 teaspoons. Larger dogs can have 1-4 tablespoons. Here is a table to help you know how much pumpkin to give your dog:

Dog’s Weight Teaspoons
1 tsp/10 lbs.
(Equals 3 tsp)
under 10 pounds1/2
10 — 30 pounds1 to 3
30 — 60 pounds1 to 2
60 — 90 pounds2 to 3
90+ pounds4
Conversion of tsp/tbsp of pumpkin based on dog’s weight.

Pumpkin in Your Dog’s Meals as Part of a Balanced Diet

Incorporate small amounts of pumpkin into your dog’s meals. Start with a little pumpkin, perhaps a teaspoon, and observe how your dog reacts to this new food. For smaller dogs, even this small amount can make a significant difference.

Remember, pumpkin should be an addition to your dog’s regular diet and not a replacement for their usual meals. Use it as a supplement to provide extra nutrients and to help manage mild digestive issues like constipation or diarrhea

Selecting the Right Pumpkin

Cute black pumpkin chewing on a whole pumpkin in the forest.

When choosing pumpkin for your furry friend, opt for fresh pumpkin or plain canned pumpkin. Avoid pumpkin pie mix as it contains spices and sugars not suitable for dogs. Fresh pumpkin has a high fiber content, which is great for weight loss and maintaining a healthy digestive tract.

Giving Pumpkin on a Long Term Basis

Some owners prefer to give their dogs pumpkin on an on-going basis as part of their daily diet to enhance their digestion and as a nutritional supplement. This is usually fine for most dogs as long as it does not exceed 10% of their daily calorie intake.

For example, my medium-sized dogs receive approximately 500 calories of food each day plus 50 calories in training treats to maintain a healthy weight. One tablespoon of canned pumpkin equals 19 calories. So, I add about one tablespoon of pumpkin each day to their meals once a day or 1/2 tablespoon with each meal. I then reduce their treats to 30 calories a day.

To estimate treat calories, I usually count the number of treats in a handful to get an idea of how much I give them each day. Old Mother Hubbard Training Bitz are approximately 2 calories each. So a handful of 15 treats which I throw into my pouch equals 30 calories.

While it can be a bit different from these exact measurements, this is an excellent way to get an estimate. If you are like me, the number of training and fun treats varies a little each day.

The Many Benefits of Giving Your Dog Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a really excellent food for dogs and humans alike. It is rich in numerous vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin also has a lot of healthy fiber and prebiotics to help feed the beneficial bacteria in the GI tract. This is why it can help with constipation as a bulking agent and a stabilizer for bouts of diarrhea by bulking up the stool. Here is a list of the benefits of pumpkin:

  • Soluble and insoluble fiber to relieve constipation and diarrhea
  • Prebiotics to feed beneficial bacteria
  • Low in calories and sodium
  • Pumpkin pulp fibers can help prevent anal gland irritation
  • High in vitamins A, C, E, and lutein which offer skin, eye, immune support, as well as a healthy coat
  • High in minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium and potassium
  • Pumpkin seeds are high in Omega-fatty acids and may be a natural dewormer

Primary Health Benefits of Pumpkin: Pumpkin is not just beneficial for digestive issues; it also supports the immune system thanks to its high content of essential vitamins like beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. These nutrients contribute to a healthy skin and can aid in your dog’s overall health.

Can Too Much Pumpkin Be Harmful to Your Dog?

As with anything, too much of a good thing can be harmful.

Vitamin A — Since pumpkin contains a lot of vitamin A, vast quantities could become toxic due to high vitamin A levels.

Fiber –Too much pumpkin can also cause or worsen diarrhea. On the other, feeding your dog a lot of pumpkin with inadequate water could cause or worsen constipation due to the additional fiber. Therefore, please ensure your dog’s water bowl is always filled, and add a small amount of water to meals.

The Ratio of Pumpkin to Daily Food — Your dog’s nutritional balance will be thrown off if the pumpkin to daily food ratio is too high.

Raw or Spiced Pumpkin — Raw pumpkin can cause digestive upset. So, if you give your dog significant amounts of pumpkin, it should always be cooked. Also, you can only feed your dog plain pumpkin without spices, sugar, or any sweetener, which would upset your dog’s digestive system. Some sweeteners, such as  Xylitol, are toxic to dogs and can be fatal.

What Type or Brands of Pumpkin are Best

Boston Terrier putting a whole pumpkin in the oven.

Fresh, cooked pumpkin is the healthiest way to add pumpkin to your pup’s diet. Even pumpkin seeds can be roasted without salt or oil for a healthy treat. Carved pumpkins after Halloween should not be used. They are most likely spoiled and could contain bacteria and mold.

If you are busy like me, canned pumpkin is fine as long as it contains only pumpkin and water and no other ingredients. A healthy option is Green Valley Organics. This is pure pumpkin puree without additional water. Green Valley uses non-BPA liners in its cans with pop-openers on the top. The pumpkin is USDA organic.

Dogs even have their own brand of pumpkin puree, such as Nummy Tum Tum. It is also USDA Organic with non-BPA liners and contains only pumpkin. If you are concerned about wasting part of an open can of pumpkin, you can also get Native Pet Organic Pumpkin Powder. This shelf-stable powder is convenient to ensure you always have some pumpkin on hand without wasting anything. The container gives exact measurements for different dog weights.

Once, when my dog had a tummy problem during the Covid Pandemic, the stores ran low on canned pumpkin. So all I could find was Gerber Pumpkin Baby Food. That worked well, as they were smaller than canned pumpkin, were non-GMO, and contained only pumpkin and water.

If you want to give your dog pumpkin treats, be sure to check out Portland Pet Food Pumpkin Biscuits. They are hand-made, baked, healthy treats, and my dogs love them! I usually stock up on these during the fall and winter holidays.

Cautionary Advice

While pumpkin offers numerous benefits, it’s important to avoid any type of pumpkin that could pose a choking hazard, such as raw pumpkin seeds. Always ensure that the pumpkin is adequately prepared and safe for your dog to consume.

Closing Thoughts

Using pumpkin in your dog’s diet can be a great way to enhance their health in a variety of ways. Whether it’s for digestive health, weight management, or just as a tasty treat, a little pumpkin can go a long way. Just remember to introduce it slowly and monitor your dog’s reaction to this new addition to their diet.

The correct amount of pumpkin for your dog, 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs. of weight, can help with minor stomach upsets. Pumpkin, when used as an additive to a balanced diet, can also be an excellent way to add important nutrients to your dog’s daily diet. Just be sure to skip the cloves and whipped cream!

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