Pumpkin is the flavor of the season! This time of year pumpkin pies are available in most grocery stores and coffee houses are carrying pumpkin spice blends...
Pumpkin is an extremely healthy food - especially when it's not loaded down with sugar. It contains a number of vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin E. It also contains minerals including manganese, magnesium, zinc, potassium, copper and iron. Pumpkin is high in essential fatty acids, and contains no trans fats. With many other beneficial antioxidants and phytonutrients, pumpkin is an extremely healthy option.
While most pet foods contain all of the vitamins and minerals our pets need, one thing many pets are lacking in their diets is fibre. Dietary fibre plays an important role in digestion, absorbing water and speeding up the passage of foods through the digestive system. Pumpkin is a high source of fibre, making it a great way to regulate our pet's system. It can help prevent diarrhea by removing the extra water in the system, and it can also prevent constipation by assisting with the passage of foods through the system. Adding only a teaspoon to your pet's diet daily can help regulate his system.
Foods that are high in fibre add bulk to your diet, making you feel full faster - and this is one of the biggest benefits of feeding your pet's pumpkin. Most animals like the taste of pumpkin and will eat it without persuation. Pumpkin is a great way to reduce appetite and can help overweight pets loose weight. Pumpkin is commonly used as by nutritionists for overweight pets, simply supplimenting a portion (usually 1/3) of your pet's diet with canned pumpkin - that's straight pumpkin, not the sugary pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin is a low calorie food, a high source of fibre - and it tastes great too!
Pumpkin has an added benefit for our feline friends - it can reduce hairballs in cats. Many pet owners purchase over-the-counter hairball remedies which are oil based products that can actually inhibit the absorption of nutrients in our cats. Pumpkin helps by adding lubrication or soft bulk to help the hairballs pass (instead of coming back up!) Most cats like the taste of pumpkin, but for those who don't a teaspoon mixed into wet food will usually do the trick. (For really finicky felines, start mixing in a very small amount, and gradually work your way up to a teaspoon.)
This miracle food is a great source of vitamins and minerals, a source of fibre, a low-calorie weight loss solution and a way to reduce those nasty feline furballs! Just remember if you are buying canned pumpkin to ensure that you don't get pie filling, which contains sugars, spices and other additives (which are not low-calorie and certainly don't benefit our pets!)
Most of our furry friends are happy to eat pumpkin right out of the can, however, there are many of recipes on the internet for pumpkin treats. If you have your pet on a pumpkin diet, these recipes can offer alternative options that are easy to store and take with you on the go. But be certain to pay attention to the "other ingredients" in any recipes you find online. Pumpkin is a healthy treat for your pets, but the effects of sugar, spice and fatty additives can have an adverse effect on your pet.
Give this healthy treat a try... after all, 'tis the season!
Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.