Why You Might Want To Think Twice About Giving Your Pets Pumpkin

Come fall, a lot of us get super excited about pumpkins: Carving pumpkins. Drinking pumpkin spice lattes. Eating pumpkin pie. And if you have pets, it's inevitable they're going to get a taste of pumpkin one way or another. Not a big deal, right? You might want to think again.

According to Women's Health Magazine, pumpkin is pretty much a superfood. It's low in carbohydrates and packs in lots of those good vitamins. Pumpkin is also good for our blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Perhaps most importantly, pumpkin is rich in fiber.

However, just because something's healthy for us humans, that doesn't necessarily mean it's just as healthy for our furry family members. For example, although foods like grapes and onions help with heart health in humans, they are toxic to cats and dogs (via ASPCA). This isn't to say your pet can't have any pumpkin, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. 

Your pets might not benefit from pumpkin

Many pet owners who intentionally give their cat or dog pumpkin do it to increase fiber intake. Especially in pets with diabetes or G.I. issues, pumpkin can alleviate some symptoms, per Tufts Now. That being said, Lisa Freeman, head of the veterinary nutrition service at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center, told the university that pumpkin doesn't carry enough dietary fiber to be beneficial. A medium-sized dog would need to eat about 12 cups of pumpkin a day for it to have that kind of effect!

Realistically, the biggest problem with feeding your pet pumpkin is giving them too much or disrupting their diet. While the American Kennel Club notes that canned pumpkin would be the best choice for your dog if you were to give him pumpkin, AKC also cautions that these frequently include spices and other potential irritants. Canned pumpkin is also particularly high in sodium, which can be very dangerous to pets with kidney or heart disease.

In short, it's okay if your dog licks a bit of pumpkin off the floor or if your cat wants a taste. Where you want to draw the line is at routinely incorporating pumpkin into their diet. Your pet can already get most of the nutrients they need from their pet food, and if you have concerns about their dietary needs, you should always consult with your veterinarian first.