As pumpkins begin to fill our stores, we get lots of questions about everything to do with dogs and pumpkins. One question concerns whether dogs can eat pumpkin seeds – dried, raw, or various homemade recipes containing the seeds. We have some answers for you in this brief look at pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin Seed Nutrition
You probably already know that pumpkin pie is not an especially healthy treat for your dog. While plain, pureed pumpkin has health benefits, pumpkin pie with its spices, eggs, sugar, and cream is high in fat and calories. A bite or two won’t harm your dog but letting your dog eat more than a small amount could be problematic.
Pumpkin seeds are a different matter. They are edible and high in nutrients. They are rich in protein, dietary fiber, micronutrients and linoleic and oleic fats. They are often roasted and eaten as a snack.
They are considered to be a good source of magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin K, zinc, copper, riboflavin, folate, and calcium. It’s thought that eating pumpkin seeds can help to increase bone health, heart health, as well as improve other body functions. They are one of the best natural sources of magnesium.
One ounce (28 grams) of pumpkin seeds contains about 151 calories.
Pumpkin seeds may help manage type-2 diabetes. The zinc in pumpkin seeds may help improve liver health. Since they are high in fiber, they may also help improve digestion and encourage weight loss.
Pumpkin seeds are also high in vitamin E which can strengthen the immune system. They also contain carotenoids as antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation.
The seeds are also a natural source of tryptophan.
Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of beta-carotene. They can increase skin and eye health.
In some cultures, pumpkin seeds have been used as a natural anthelmintic or wormer for tapeworms.
Pumpkin seeds are easy to add to your diet either as a snack, in salads, in smoothies, in yogurt, or other foods.
As with other nuts and seeds, pumpkin seeds do contain phytic acid. Phytic acid can reduce the bioavailability of some of the nutrients you eat in foods. You can reduce their phytic acid level by soaking them before eating them; or by roasting them.
Can You Give Your Dog Pumpkin Seeds to Eat?
There is nothing toxic about pumpkin seeds. They are safe to give to dogs in small amounts. Dogs can’t always digest them very well so you may find some of the seeds in your yard when you scoop your dog’s poop.
You can grind pumpkin seeds if you would like to add a small amount in the form of a powder to your dog’s food for flavor or as a nutritional supplement.
Depending on the variety of pumpkin, some seeds have a husk. If you intend to let your dog have a few seeds, you should remove this husk before giving them to your dog.
Most pumpkin seeds are fairly large so it’s a good idea to supervise your dog if you give him some just in case any seeds get caught in his throat. This is not likely to happen but weird things happen sometimes.
Some pumpkin seeds are sold in stores salted, spicy, hot, and with other flavors. You should avoid giving these seeds to your dog since they can contain ingredients that can be harmful to your dog. Plain, unsalted pumpkin seeds are best if you are buying them for your dog.
Are Pumpkin Seeds a Wormer for Dogs?
There are claims that pumpkin seeds work as a natural wormer for dogs. We often see people online asking for the correct dose for their dog. Are pumpkin seeds really an effective wormer?
It’s true that pumpkin seeds have been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a wormer for tapeworms and roundworms. They contain the amino acid cucurbitin which paralyzes and eliminates some parasites from the digestive tract. Pumpkin seeds were listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia as an antiparasitic from 1863 to 1936.
At this time, there are still people, including livestock farmers, who hope that pumpkin seeds (and other natural remedies) can be effective as wormers. Some studies have been done with mixed results.
We recommend that you talk to your veterinarian before using pumpkin seeds as a wormer.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Pumpkin Seeds?
There is nothing toxic about pumpkin seeds and they are full of nutrients. As long as you rely on plain pumpkin seeds, you could give your dog a small amount each day in his food or as a treat.
It is important to make sure the seeds are thoroughly dried or roasted. Raw pumpkin seeds can spoil since they contain a lot of fats.
If you prefer to give your dog ground pumpkin seed powder, you can grind the seeds yourself or buy the ground seeds at a health store. There are also some companies that sell the ground pumpkin seeds as supplements for dogs. If you grind the seeds yourself, it’s best to only grind a small amount so they won’t go bad. You can also add a small amount of rice to your container to help remove any moisture and keep the powder good longer.
Pumpkin seeds are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that are good for your dog. You can give your dog the plain seeds (dry or roasted) or grind the seeds and use them as a powder to add to your dog’s meals. If you are interested in using pumpkin seeds for your dog as a wormer, talk to your veterinarian.