It's super easy to make homemade pumpkin puree for dogs and it's tasty, healthy, nutritious, and very versatile.
Loaded with vitamins (including A, C and E), minerals (including iron and potassium) and is source of valuable prebiotics. Pumpkin is also high in fiber and low in calories. It's a nutrient powerhouse!
There are loads of dog treat recipes which use pumpkin to add flavor, moisture and nutrients. It can also be added to your dogs food (especially helpful if he has some diarrhea or constipation. Yes, it can help with both!).
Pumpkin can even be fed to dogs raw, but as it's more difficult for them to digest I always cook it first. Some dogs like to eat chunks of cooked pumpkin, others prefer it in their treats.
Even the seeds don't have to go to waste. You can peel and roast them (without seasoning) and add whole, or ground up, to treat recipes. Dogs can also eat raw organic pumpkin seeds.
You can make pumpkin puree for dogs by roasting, or boiling, pumpkin flesh and then giving it a quick spin in a blender or food processor. You can even just mash it up well using a fork for a chunkier texture.
There are several types of pumpkin that produce sweet, juicy, delicious puree.
They are generally on the smaller side and are bright orange in color and include:
In stores these types of pumpkin may simply be labeled 'pie pumpkins' or 'sugar pumpkins' regardless of their formal name.
If you plan to grow your own pumpkins for pie, muffin and dog treat baking you can add the Dickinson Squash to that list.
And just a heads up... the giant pumpkins that are generally used for decorating your porch, or carving with the kids are not a good choice for making pumpkin puree for dogs, or anyone else. They don't have much flavor and are very stringy.
This really is incredibly easy to do! You don't need anything except a pumpkin and it's as simple as 1-2-3.
You can either roast or boil your pumpkin before pureeing it.
When we make pumpkin for our human family we usually add salt and oil or spices etc.
But when making homemade pumpkin puree for dogs you want to avoid adding anything else, it's not needed or beneficial.
Here's a look at both methods:
If your pumpkin puree looks a little too thin or watery you can use a drain it using cheesecloth, a colander and bowl.
Generally, if you've used a pumpkin that's of the right kind for baking, your puree will be just right without straining.
Using large, Halloween-decor style pumpkins can produce watery puree, and other types can also do the same now and then. Luckily it's a simple fix!
The best way to store homemade pumpkin puree in the short term is to put it in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator. You can use glass or BPA free plastic containers, or freezer bags.
Kept in the refrigerator, pumpkin puree stays fresh for up to one week.
If you want to stock up on some of your delicious homemade pumpkin puree to use at a later date you can put it into a freezer-safe container and store it in the freezer.
Freezing your pumpkin puree in silicone molds or ice cube trays will provide fun frozen treats for your dog as well as making it very easy to thaw small amounts at a time.
Frozen pumpkin puree will be good for a minimum of three months (as long as it's frozen while freshly made, but cooled first of course), and can last as long as six months or so.
Pumpkin is nutrient-dense, low in calories and high in fiber and water.
A tablespoon of pumpkin puree in your dog's food can add a nutrient and fiber boost, while helping to regulate digestive function.
My favorite way to use homemade pumpkin puree for dogs it to add it to a yummy dog treat recipe.
Whether it's a crunchy 'biscuit', a delicious pupcake, a frozen treat, or chewy dehydrated dog treat, there are a lot of ways your dog can enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Check out some of these delicious homemade dogs treats which feature pumpkin puree as an ingredient...
Let's not forget about those pumpkin seeds you carefully scooped out of your pumpkin before preparing to turn it into your delicious homemade pumpkin puree!
The seeds from your pumpkin are as nutritious as the flesh, and contain a whole array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They're a great and healthy addition to your dog's diet.
It's okay for dogs to eat raw pumpkin seeds, and seeds that aren't cooked retain a higher level of nutrients, but they can be a little harder for dogs to digest and they spoil quickly so store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 - 7 days.
Raw pumpkin seeds which have gone bad may show noticeable signs of mold, color changes or smell bad or 'off'. Never feed your dog pumpkin seeds that may be rancid as these can be toxic.
I prefer to roast or boil pumpkin seeds for my dogs and then I use them in recipes (both ground and whole).
Dogs can't eat pumpkin seed shells/hulls (they're basically indigestible and can cause an obstruction) and obviously our dogs don't have the opposable thumbs needed to peel them themselves, so it's important to remove the shells for them whether you're feeding them raw or cooked.
It's easiest to remove the shells from pumpkin seeds after they're cooked, and although tedious it can be done by hand one seed at a time.
Cooking your pumpkin seeds couldn't be easier....
Both roasted and boiled pumpkin seeds can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 7 - 10 days.
For longer-term storage use freezer-safe containers or freezer bags and your cooked pumpkin seeds should stay fresh for up to six months in the freezer.
You can check out the type of storage containers I recommend for dog treat storage HERE.
Spoiled or rancid pumpkin seeds are toxic, so store your seeds carefully and for the recommended timeframe.
There are a couple of different ways you can remove pumpkin seeds from their shells so that you can safely feed them to your dog.
It's easier to remove pumpkin seeds from the hull AFTER they have been cooked
The first one is to remove the shells by hand, one at a time, the way you would if you were eating them yourself. Obviously this is a bit tedious, but it's fine if you're only feeding your dog a handful of seeds as a treat for example. But if you want to shell a fair number of pumpkin seeds to use in a recipe or store for later, try one of these options.
To remove the shells from roasted pumpkin seeds you can lay out the cooled seeds on a flat surface, cover with parchment or wax paper and then crack the hulls either by running a rolling pin over them, or using a meat tenderizer hammer or a wooden mallet. Then you can remove them completely fairly easily.
Removing the shells from boiled pumpkin seeds is usually pretty easy. Once the pumpkin seeds have been drained and cooled, simply pinching the narrow end of the seed can pop the seed out of the hull. This is a one-at-time method so again, it's not super fast, but boiled seeds tend to slip out of their hull without too much trouble.
Absolutely they can! If you don't have time to make homemade pumpkin puree for your dogs, it's perfectly okay to use canned pumpkin in a recipe, or to help with an upset tummy.
BUT... make sure you use canned pumpkin puree NOT pumpkin pie filling.
Pie filling has sugar, spices and additives your dog doesn't need, and which will interfere with it's natural digestive-settling qualities.
If I'm not making pumpkin puree myself I like to use organic canned pumpkin puree, but organic isn't essential. Just make sure it contains only pumpkin, no additives.
If you're using your pumpkin puree in dog treats it's highly unlikely your dog will be eating enough of it at any one time to cause any problems whatsoever.
But, if you're adding pumpkin puree to his food, or giving him chunks of pumpkin as treats, it's possible that he may overindulge.
Pumpkin is high in fiber, and while this makes adding a little to his food a good way to help regulate his digestive function, eating too much of it could cause bloating, gas, and even diarrhea. Definitely not what you want.
As a rule of thumb, veterinarians suggest one or two teaspoons of pumpkin per day for small dogs, and one (max two) tablespoons for large dogs.