Pumpkin is NOT Healthy for Our Dogs

By Dr. Jeannie Thomason

Most of us have heard that pumpkin (cooked/canned) is supposed to be a great thing to feed our dogs, especially if the dog has digestive issues or runny stools/diarrhea. I even recently saw some misleading information that pumpkin is good to feed dogs with Cancer. What??

Sadly, all of this information circulating on the uses of pumpkin that are “good” for our dogs simply is not based on the fact that dogs are carnivores.


You may have even tried using canned pumpkin with your dog and saw that it was helpful in firming up the stools when your dog had a bout of diarrhea. However, one of the problems in this situation is that it must be understood that diarrhea is not disease but simply is the body’s way of getting rid of toxins. These toxins need to be allowed to be forced from the body. Most of the time, firming up the stools can do the dog more harm than good. The body is being forced to slow down or stop eliminating the toxins and to instead, store them somewhere.

CAUTION: If your dog has watery diarrhea for more than a couple of days and is also not able to hold food or water down then dehydration is a real threat and you would be wise to seek professional help in discovering the cause of the diarrhea. Sub Q or IV fluids may be necessary to keep the dog hydrated, otherwise, allow the dog to be rid of those toxins; as inconvenient or unpleasant as it may be for you. It is crucial to locate and address the cause of the diarrhea not just suppress the symptom (- the diarrhea) .

Pumpkin is not a species appropriate food

Pumpkin is in the squash family and not food found naturally growing in the wild. Dogs are carnivores and pumpkin is not something a carnivore would ever seek out on its own to eat. The dog’s digestive system is not designed or equipped to eat vegetables; dogs do not produce amylase in their salivary glands like omnivores or herbavoires do. Amylase is a specialized enzyme most herbivores and omnivores produce in their saliva to break down starches found in grasses,corn, rice, potatoes, pumpkin, etc. into simple sugars so they can be absorbed into the blood stream and turned into energy. However, carnivores are not designed to eat or require starch in their diet. Dogs, like their cousins the wolves, meet their blood glucose requirements from gluconeogenesis which is a metabolic pathway that results in the generation of glucose from non-carbohydrate carbon substrates using protein, rather than from the breakdown of carbohydrates in their diet.

Pumpkin actually ranks quite high on the glycemic index, or GI, which suggests that the carbohydrates in this vegetable could cause a marked increase in your dog’s blood sugar and sugar as you may know is known to feed yeast and cancer!

Plant matter, grains (and seeds) and vegetables stress the dog’s digestive system, especially the pancreas since it is forced to produce enzymes such as amylase in order to digest a vegetable that the body was never intended to have to digest.

Please take a holistic, naturopathic approach the next time your dog has diarrhea and seek out the root cause for the runny stools and/or digestive upset. Then, support the dog naturally with fasting* and probiotics . If the diarrhea is persistent for more than a couple of days, you may want to consider feeding a bentonite clay labeled for internal use and or activated charcoal to help absorb some of the toxins. If the stools are runny due to feeding too much organ meat or because the dog is new to the raw diet, feeding more raw bone in the form of chicken necks and/or feet will help to firm the stools back up naturally.

* Please Note: please don’t fast a dog under a year of age.


The information and material provided in this article, thewholedog web site and by Dr. Jeannie is intended to provide general guidance and education only. Nothing in this article, the web site or during a regular consultation constitutes traditional allopathic veterinary advice. Consultations are designed to share and suggest additional options to think about and other areas to explore, based on your individual dog’s condition. Nothing in this article is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

Copyright 2003 -2017 This article is the sole property of Dr. Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole (Wholistic) Dog. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author.

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