Why You Should Add Pumpkin to Your Pet's Diet

Why You Should Add Pumpkin to Your Pet's Diet
Like us, it's not uncommon for dogs and cats to have bouts of diarrhea and constipation. There's a variety of causes for both. As long as it doesn't last for long periods of time, it's not something to be concerned about. You should watch your pet while he's having a bowel movement, because it's a good way to see early warning signs of illness. Adding pumpkin to your pet's diet can help counter episodes of diarrhea or constipation. I freeze pumpkin in ice cube trays and store them in a zip-lock bag because one of my dogs likes to eat his pumpkin frozen.
The intestinal system works in an amazing way to move waste from the body. If the intestinal lining becomes irritated or inflamed, the body flushes the culprit out in the form of diarrhea. A problem in the upper digestive tract comes out as vomit and as diarrhea in the lower tract. Excess water in stools causes them to become loose, which hurries along the process of getting the irritant out. 
Constipation is a hard, firm stool that requires straining to get it out. Dehydrated pets, older pets, and dogs that have enlarged prostates commonly suffer from constipation. When solid waste sits in the colon too long the stools can become dried out, making it harder to eliminate which can put some pets at risk of developing megacolon, a chronic condition where the large intestine is stretched to the point where it is no longer able to efficiently do its job. This is more common in cats than dogs. 

Causes of diarrhea 

Diarrhea can be a result of pica, eating garbage, spoiled food, toxic plants or poison. A change in diet, internal parasites, giardia, or coccidia, an allergic reaction, viral or bacterial infection, stress, kidney or liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies, tumors or cancer in the digestive tract, or pancreatitis. Bouts of diarrhea are more common in dogs and cats than constipation.

Causes of constipation 

The most common cause of constipation is not drinking enough water or getting enough fiber in their diet. But it can also be due to an obstruction in the colon, a pelvic cavity problem, or a tumor in the abdomen. Ingesting foreign objects (pica) or pieces of bone can become lodged in the bowel and prevent elimination. Male dogs that haven't been neutered can develop an enlarged prostate, making it harder for them to go. Neutering your dog can help with constipation problems. Hernias and other medical issues, lack of muscle tone, infected anal glands, hip or pelvic injury, iron supplements, stress, and some medications can cause constipation.

Provide plenty of fresh clean water daily 

Cats get most of their daily intake of water from their food and may need encouragement to drink water. Not getting enough water puts felines at risk of becoming dehydrated during summer and winter months, and increases the risk of developing crystals in the urinary tract that can block the flow of urine, or bladder infections. How much water your cat needs depends on her normal diet, activity level, and hot weather. If she eats mainly dry food, she needs to drink more water. Felines prefer fresh clean water, so you may need to freshen her water bowl throughout the day. Pet water fountains can also encourage cats to drink more because the water is in motion instead of sitting still. Adding canned food to a dog or cat's dry kibbles ups the moisture content, which helps prevent constipation and other possible issues with the digestive or urinary tract. How much water your dog needs depends on his size, activity level, normal diet, and hot weather. During heat spells or increased activity more water intake is needed. Daily exercise can help to keep pets regular.

When it's time to be concerned about diarrhea or constipation 

Most bouts of diarrhea or constipation will clear up on its own in a day or two. But if either one lasts longer than a couple of days or goes away only to return a short time later, it's time to be concerned and consult with your vet. There may be something more serious going on that needs to be dealt with. If you suspect a foreign object or bone could be causing an obstruction, don't wait to see if a bowel issue will clear up on its own. Call your vet immediately.

Why you should add pumpkin to your pet's diet 

Pumpkin is a natural way to add fiber to your pet's diet to clear up diarrhea and constipation, and most dogs and cats like it. The fiber softens stools of a constipated pet and absorbs excess water in the digestive tract to combat diarrhea to make firmer stools. Plain canned pumpkin (do not use canned pumpkin with nutmeg or other spices used to make pumpkin pies) or steamed fresh pumpkin is safe for pets to eat. Never use a Halloween pumpkin that's been carved. It has toxic bacteria and mold that could harm pets. If pumpkin isn't available, cooked squash is a good alternative. Pumpkin adds beta-carotene, potassium, iron, vitamins, iron, and zinc to your pet's diet, and fiber helps the body feel full which promotes weight loss in an overweight pet because they don't have to eat as much to feel satisfied. However, talk with your vet before putting your pet on a diet. Too much pumpkin can cause diarrhea or constipation, so introduce it slowly to give your pet's body time to adjust to the extra fiber in their diet. Dogs and cats under 15 pounds can have 1-2 teaspoons daily, pets 15-35 pounds can have 1-2 tablespoons, and dogs over 35 pounds can have 2-3 tablespoons each day. The amount of pumpkin should be in proportion to their size. If your pet becomes constipated, reduce the amount of pumpkin you're giving him.
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