It's that time of year again: Pumpkin-flavored treats show up in our coffee shops and our restaurants, while pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pies are the hallmark for the harvest season. And one of the biggest demographics who enjoy this treat?
Dogs. (That's right.) Pumpkin-flavored dog food reached nearly $13 million in sales in 2014, according to a Nielsen study.
Before you scoff at the idea, consider this: pumpkin is good for pups. "Pumpkin has a high moisture content and provides extra fiber, which can help treat and prevent diarrhea and constipation," says Dr. Sarah Nold, on-staff veterinarian at Trupanion, a pet insurance company. "It's beneficial in small amounts, and we recommend it as a special treat." She even recommends giving a teaspoon of plain pumpkin to a small dog or up to a tablespoon for a larger dog.
When preparing pumpkin recipes for your canine companion, Dr. Nold recommends avoiding ingredients that are known to be toxic to dogs, such as chocolate or onions and garlic, and to keep the treat low in sugar and fats. "Go over the recipe with your vet," Dr. Nold says. "You want to avoid sugars and fats because the dog digestive system isn't designed to tolerate those very well."
Sorry, puppy. That means leftover pumpkin pie is a pass. According to Dr. Nold, it can give your dog a tummy ache, and you should avoid using pumpkin pie filling in your pumpkin-flavored dog treats for the same reason. The pie filling usually contains the ingredients you don't want to feed to your dog. Recipes should start with plain pumpkin. You can also try pureed squash baby food as a substitute in your recipes.