Ah, October! Here in the northeast, it is truly one of the most beautiful seasons as trees become emblazoned with leaves changing from bright orange to sunny yellow and apple red!
There is a crispness in the air that puts pep not only our steps, but our dog’s as well! Along with the drop in temperatures, the season is ripe for fun with apple and pumpkin picking at area farms! And who hasn’t seen the “pumpkin is the spice of life” on t-shirts and in everything from coffees, teas, and cereals (for humans) to delectable treats for both people and pooches alike.
I know many of us have already heard about how pumpkin is an excellent nutritious food addition for our dogs for so many health reasons, and here at FiveSibes, it is a staple. With one Siberian Husky that has periodic bouts of gastroenteritis, as well as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and another Husky who had gained quite a bit of weight (20 pounds) due to effects of Canine Epilepsy medication, I am quite familiar with the velvety orange miracle food!
First, let me emphasize you want only 100% pure pumpkin. You can either pureé the cooked fresh squash yourself, or buy the canned version. Just be sure you do not have a can of pumpkin pie filling. That is full of sugar and spice and things not nice for a dog. To be absolutely sure, check the label; there should only be one ingredient listed—pumpkin.
To recap pumpkin’s goodness, let’s roll out that jack o’lantern for a closer look-see at its health benefits:
- Pure pumpkin is magical at controlling both, constipation and diarrhea in dogs. Whether mixed in with boiled chicken and rice, or given off a spoon, it is full of good stuff! It has potassium, vitamins, and is a good source of soluble fiber, which not only helps to ease angry intestines when a dog is sick with gastrointestinal (GI) issues, it also helps to slow down diarrhea, and alleviate some dehydration after diarrhea. Check with your dog’s veterinarian first to determine the correct amount to give.
- Pumpkin is also recommended by some veterinarians to aid in preventing those nasty anal gland flare-ups (you know, when your dog scooches across the floor, and/or you catch a whiff of something skunky coming from his/her derrière). Pumpkin helps to maintain a healthy stool consistency, which in turn helps maintain healthy anal glands.
- Pure pumpkin is sodium free. No one wants added salt or sodium in their diet, and we shouldn’t give it to our dogs, either. And if you have an Epi-dog (epileptic dog), it’s especially important to keep an eye on the salt intake as it can interfere with the levels of bromide medications, such as Potassium Bromide, and that interference can trigger seizures.
- Pumpkin treats are a healthy and tasty snack for your dog that you can easily whip up at home. A delicious simple recipe is my FiveSibes “Maple Pumpkin Cookies.” (Note: If your dog’s diet needs to be gluten-free, you can substitute other types of flour, such as oat).
- Did you know that there is an actual “pumpkin diet” for dogs? Pumpkin is low fat and low in calories, which is excellent for dogs that may need to lose a few pounds, like my one Husky that had gained 20 pounds due to a voracious appetite caused by his meds. By adding some pumpkin in with the dog food, the healthy filler helps to satiate them. Just start off gradually, as too much too soon can send your dog running for the potty! Before starting the diet, always check with your dog’s veterinarian first, and then discuss the correct ratio of pumpkin to food and length of time your dog should be on the plan.
So go enjoy all the tastiness of “pumpkin everything” this autumn, and know that sharing some yummy healthy pumpkin with your dog is certainly no trick, but rather a very welcomed treat! Bon(e) Appetit!
Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the international FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in American Pet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of “The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show.” Named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine, Dorothy is a 5-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2016 for her writing. An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. In addition to her Siberian Huskies, Dorothy shares her home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and new grandson. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Google + , Twitter, and Instagram (@FiveSibesMom).