Ah, fall: The time of year where we sip our Pumpkin Spice Lattes (or, more commonly known as PSLs) on the way to work and spend our weekends carving pumpkins and baking pumpkin seeds. But before you clean out some pumpkins and treat your pup to the seeds, there are some safety tips you should know. Because, while raw pumpkin seeds are safe in moderation, they’re not as healthful as you might think.
We spoke with Dr. Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, a veterinarian at Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital in Greeley, Colorado, to get the facts about pumpkin seeds for dogs. Turns out, not all the health benefits touted on the internet—including parasite prevention, allergy relief, and anti-inflammatory benefits—are true.
All About Pumpkin Seeds and Dogs:
Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
The short answer is yes, dogs can eat fresh pumpkin seeds in moderation. But while superfood pumpkin seeds pack a nutritional punch for humans (they’re also rich in antioxidants, magnesium, iron, zinc, and other nutrients), the same can’t be said for your pup (more on that later). So, if they snag a few off the floor, don’t stress. But all that cleaning, roasting, and grinding to add pumpkin seeds to dog food and treats? Don’t bother.
Dogs can, however, eat pumpkin puree and pumpkin pulp. A small amount of pureed pumpkin can be added to your dog’s daily diet. Doing so can help your dog maintain a healthy weight because the fiber in pumpkin can help your dog feel fuller for longer. Of course, always check with your dog’s veterinarian before changing their diet.
As for pumpkin pulp, it’s naturally high in antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein that support eye health and healthy skin and coat. Not only is pumpkin pulp also rich in potassium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, but it’s also particularly high in Vitamin A.
Are Pumpkin Seeds Healthy for Dogs?
Pumpkin seeds are safe for dogs in moderation—but not exactly healthy, according to Dr. Wooten.
- Dogs don’t digest seeds the same as humans. “While people eat pumpkin seeds for the benefits (vitamins, minerals, and fiber), those nutrients aren’t available or beneficial to dogs,” Dr. Wooten says. “If you think about it, dogs’ guts aren’t really set up to digest seeds, and it isn't a part of their natural diet.”
- Pumpkin seeds don’t kill worms or parasites. This is a false promise made in other articles about pumpkin seeds for dogs. “If you feed your dog large amounts of pumpkin seeds, they may pass some worms because they develop diarrhea,” says Dr. Wooten, “but it isn’t an effective or humane way to treat worms.” Instead, consult with your vet, who can recommend the correct dewormer medication. “Furthermore, if a person feeds pumpkin seeds believing they will eliminate worms, the dog will continue to be infested with worms and suffer the side effects,” Dr. Wooten says.
So, can you feed pumpkin seeds to your dog? Sure, in moderation. But they don’t provide the same kind of healthful benefits as, say, blueberries, apple cider vinegar, sweet potatoes, or even canned pumpkin. In fact, they don’t offer any healthful benefits for dogs at all, according to Dr. Wooten.
Risks of Feeding Too Many Pumpkin Seeds to Your Dog
The biggest thing to know is that pumpkin seeds are hard for dogs to digest.
“Large amounts could cause stomach upset, constipation, or diarrhea,” says Dr. Wotten.
How to Feed Pumpkin Seeds to Dog
If you want to feed a couple of pumpkin seeds to your pup so they don’t feel left out of family baking time, we get it. But here’s what Dr. Wooten says you should keep in mind:
- Check for pumpkin seed allergies. Give your dog a couple of seeds and see how they do. If they experience any negative side effects—think diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, or abdominal pain—stop feeding them pumpkin seeds immediately and call a vet.
- Remove the shells. Shells are choking hazards and indigestible for dogs. Dr. Wooten suggests boiling or rolling shelled pumpkin seeds to separate the seed from the shell.
- Properly roast pumpkin seeds. No oil, salt, or other spices should be added when feeding pumpkin seeds to dogs.
- Grind pumpkin seeds into a powder for optimal digestion. This reduces risk of intestinal obstruction or irritation.
- Serve small amounts and in moderation. While pumpkin seeds are safe for dogs—aka, don’t freak out if Fido eats one or two off the floor—overdoing it can cause issues. Small dogs can safely consume three to five seeds; medium dogs five to 10 seeds; and large dogs 10 to 20 seeds within one day.
Pumpkin Recipe for Dogs
Best Dog Treats with Pumpkin
Don’t feel like baking? No problem. Chewy sells plenty of pumpkin-infused and pumpkin-flavored dog treats. Here are some of the most popular among shoppers.
A Perfect Pairing
Boasting two favorite fall flavors, these Health Bars from Blue Buffalo are made with real pumpkin and cinnamon. Plus, they’re packed with good-for-pups omegas and antioxidants that help promote a healthy immune system and encourage healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Pumpkin and blueberries? You better believe pups love it. Fruitables’ Pumpkin & Blueberry Dog Treats not only taste great, but they smell great, too. Oh, and did we mention each treat is only 8 calories? Talk about guilt-free.
What’s so great about Charlee Bear’s Grain-Free Chicken, Pumpkin & Apple Dog Treats? They’re made with real, wholesome ingredients; meaning, there are zero artificial colors or flavors. And what’s not to love about that?
Pumpkin And Duck
Yes, you read that right: These grain-free Hill's treats pair pumpkin with all natural, real duck–the treat’s No. 1 ingredient.
Hand-Crafted Pumpkin Biscuits
Because Portland Pet Food Company’s Pumpkin Biscuits are twice-baked, they make for a light and crunchy treat. Plus, they’re free of artificial flavors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What happens if a dog eats a pumpkin seed?
A: Nothing, as long as they’re not allergic and pumpkin seeds are eaten in moderation.
Q: Can dogs have pumpkin seeds in the shell?
A: No, dogs cannot have pumpkin seeds in the shell, as shells are indigestible. Be sure to remove and dispose of shells safely before feeding pumpkin seeds to dogs.
Q: How many pumpkin seeds can a dog eat at once?
A: Small dogs can safely consume three to five seeds; medium dogs five to 10 seeds; and large dogs 10 to 20 seeds within one day.
Q: How can you tell if a dog is allergic to pumpkin seeds?
A: Look for negative side effects such as diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, or abdominal pain.
Hmm, what else can dogs eat this fall?