COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Norah Tolmie (right) chats with a customer in Stanley Park for Aagaard Farms' weekly drop-off of vegetables. It was the last of the weekly delivery of vegetables to subscribers from the community-supported Brandon-area farm of the 2013 season.
October is marked by some very vibrant colours and some wonderful fall flavours. While there are many symbols of the season, but there is one that stands out above the rest — pumpkin!
Pumpkin is more than just a decoration; it flavours so many foods of the season.
It’s an extremely healthy food too — especially when it isn’t loaded with sugar. Pumpkin is full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, K and E, manganese, magnesium, zinc, potassium, copper and iron. Pumpkin is high in essential fatty acids, and it doesn’t contain any trans fats either.
Pumpkin has many health benefits for people, and it’s a great food for our pets, too. Most of our pets get the vitamins and minerals they need from quality pet foods, but one thing many pet foods don’t provide in abundance is fibre.
We all know that fibre plays an important role in regulating our pet’s digestive system, and this is one of the benefits of adding pumpkin to your pet’s diet every now and then.
Fibre can aid in digestion by absorbing extra water in the system, preventing diarrhea, and it can assist with the passage of foods through the system, preventing constipation. This "miracle food" is a great all-natural solution to either of these common digestive issues — and a little pumpkin each day can help keep your pet "regular."
Foods that are high in fibre are also known to be quite filling, and pumpkin is no exception. Plus it’s low in calories and tastes great. Most dogs and cats like the taste of pumpkin and will readily accept the addition to their diet. Supplementing a portion (usually one-third) of your pet’s diet with canned pumpkin is a healthy weight loss solution for overweight pets.
Pumpkin has one additional benefit for cats — it’s a great way to reduce hairballs.
There are many over-the-counter solutions designed to help hairballs pass instead of coming back up. Most of these products are oil based, and they can negatively impact a cat’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Pumpkin is a natural solution that can help by adding lubrication or soft bulk to help hairballs pass. Most cats love the taste of pumpkin — but if you have one that isn’t a fan, try adding a little pumpkin to canned cat food.
While pumpkin offers many health benefits for our pets, it’s important to remember to purchase pure pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling has added sugars, spices and other additives that make it much less healthy — and much higher in calories as well.
You can feed your pets fresh or canned pumpkin, and most animals are happy to eat it raw or right out of the can. There are also many pumpkin recipes for pets that can provide alternative ways to make pumpkin a part of your pet’s diet.
Just remember to watch what the "other" ingredients that go into those foods, as things like salt, sugar and fatty additives can have the opposite effect on our pets.
Pumpkin really is the flavour of the season. It’s more than just a health food and a dietary aid — it tastes great, too. Most of our furry friends are more than pleased to make this seasonal treat a part of their daily diet.
Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 10, 2013