If you’ve ever seen someone with a cat peeling an apple or a mouse gnawing celery, then you know that animals have a way of getting into everything. And when it comes to fruits and veggies, cats and mice aren’t just interested in what’s on top they actually like to sample the insides too.
But while most people probably wouldn’t want their pets digging around in their vegetable gardens looking for hidden seeds or worms, there’s something about pumpkin that makes them particularly irresistible to critters. In fact, some species of rodents will go after anything green, including leaves, branches, bark and twigs.
They also love to munch on plants that are covered in wax, such as hemlock trees. That means that dogs can eat pumpkin, but not very much. It also doesn’t mean that pumpkin is harmful to dogs either it depends largely upon which variety you choose to grow.
When grown commercially, pumpkins are harvested before the seed has developed inside the fruit, so you won’t find any actual seeds in the flesh of a ripe pumpkin. Once cut open, however, those seeds become visible and edible. So why do dogs get a bad rap?
Well, because of their short snouts, cats and mice can easily reach inside for a snack without having to dig under things, whereas dogs need to stand up tall enough to peer over obstacles. If you’re growing pumpkin solely for human consumption, though, this shouldn’t matter since the flesh of the pumpkin itself contains no nutritional value anyway.
Here’s the thing about pumpkins: There are hundreds of different varieties out there, ranging from large jack o’lanterns to miniscule acorn types. Some are orange, others are yellow, pink or purple. Although the color of the flesh may seem unimportant, it does make a difference when it comes to whether or not dogs should consume your harvest.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between pumpkins and see which would be best suited for canine consumption.
Before you decide whether or not you’d like to give your pet access to your homegrown bounty, consider this: Do dogs really need more than a handful of fresh greens each day?
A lot of people think that giving your pet a salad each day is good nutrition, but the truth is that dogs need a wide range of nutrients in order to stay healthy not just raw leafy greens. A balanced diet includes protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. Even if your pup isn’t overweight, adding extra calories in the form of treats can help him maintain his ideal weight.
Of course, the same goes for humans if you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll have to watch what you eat. You could always just give your pet a few pieces of pumpkin instead of a full slice of bread every morning, but that’s not going to solve the problem. Pumpkin is low in both fiber and protein compared to many other foods.
While its sugar content is slightly higher than that of apples, bananas and strawberries, it still ranks below sweet potatoes, carrots and peas. Plus, pumpkin is high in carbs, which usually provides the energy needed to run around chasing balls and chew sticks, so it’s not exactly the healthiest choice to fill your plate every mealtime.
On the flip side, pumpkins provide vitamin C, beta carotene, iron, calcium and potassium. One cup of cooked pumpkin gives your pooch 10 percent of his daily requirement of vitamin A, plus 15 percent of the B complex and 9 percent of the C group. This is especially important considering that many commercial brands of canned pumpkin contain added sugars and fats.
So if you’re wondering whether dogs should be consuming your homegrown bounty, keep reading to learn which kinds of pumpkins would benefit your furry friend the most.
While it might sound counterintuitive, you can actually preserve the nutritional value of pumpkin by cooking it rather than eating it raw. Roasting pumpkin yields a sweeter flavor, and boiling it allows you to remove the water-soluble parts that cause digestive problems. Both methods result in a more nutritious product that’s easy to digest for your pet. The bottom line on whether dogs should be eating your garden harvest
We mentioned earlier that certain colors of pumpkin flesh aren’t safe for dogs to eat. The reason for this is simple: When you peel off the rind of a red or orange pumpkin, what remains is basically just the hard shell. Inside is nothing but fibrous pulp, which is essentially worthless to your pet. Yellow and white pumpkins, on the other hand, feature smooth, tender skin that’s perfectly safe for dogs to eat.
The same rule applies to winter squash, except that you’ll want to avoid carving out the seeds first. As with the pumpkin, the interior flesh of squash is mostly made up of water-soluble starch, meaning it lacks the necessary nutrients. Allowing your dog to nibble on the outside of the squash is fine, but feeding him the insides is simply asking for trouble.
With summer squash, the situation is reversed. These squashes have thin, tough skins that must be removed before eating. Since the majority of the squash is located within the thick rind, it’s safe for dogs to devour it raw. Just remember to wash it thoroughly beforehand.
As far as taste goes, some people prefer the taste of pumpkin better than that of the traditional pie spice, cinnamon. Others prefer the sweetness of the latter, so it’s up to you to decide which type you prefer. Either way, you can experiment with both flavors perhaps use pumpkin to garnish dishes containing spices, and try mixing cinnamon into your next batch of cookies.
It might take a while for your dog to adjust to eating pumpkins, but once he gets used to them, you’ll wonder how you survived without them. After all, they’re pretty tasty themselves!