Pumpkin For Our Dogs?
By Dr. Jeannie Thomason, certified animal naturopath and co-founder of the American Council of Animal Naturopathy.
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 and even vision problems. What??
Sadly, all of this [tweetthis]information circulating on feeding pumpkin to our dogs is NOT based on facts for carnivores.[/tweetthis].
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 as those toxins need to be cleansed and by firming up the stools or suppressing the body’s natural response to expel them, they are not being allowed to leave the body fast enough.
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, 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 a food source 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. While pumpkin is actually a fruit, they are very high in cellulose content. Being a carnivore, the dog’s digestive system is not designed or equipped to break down and properly digest cellulose. Dogs do not produce amylase in their salivary glands. Amylase is a specialized enzyme most herbivores and omnivores produce in their saliva to break down starches into simple sugars so they can be absorbed into the blood stream and turned into energy. Pumpkin,(and butternut squashes), is quite high in starch. Just a 1-cup serving contains approximately 80 calories, roughly 75 percent of these calories come from carbohydrates, which equals about 15 total grams of carbohydrates that are mainly in the form of starch. Carnivores are simply not designed to eat or need starches/carbohydrates 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.
Speaking of glucose, pumpkin actually ranks quite high on the glycemic index, which suggests that the carbohydrates in this vegetable could cause a marked increase in your pet’s blood sugar and sugar as you may know is what yeast and cancer thrive on!
Canned pumpkin is of course cooked
Are you aware of the facts on cooking or heating of food?
At only 110 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 43 degrees Centigrade), two of the 8 essential amino acids, tryptophan and lysine, are destroyed.
When food is cooked above 117 degrees Fahrenheit for only three minutes the following deleterious changes begin and progressively cause increased nutritional damage as temperatures are increased or as they are applied over prolonged periods of time:
*high temperatures denature protein molecular structure, leading to deficiency of some essential amino acids
*overly heated fats generate numerous carcinogens including acrolein, nitrosamines, hydrocarbons, and benzopyrene (one of the most potent cancer-causing agents known)
*natural fibers break down, cellulose is completely changed from its natural condition: it loses its ability to sweep the alimentary canal clean
*30% to 50% of vitamins and minerals are destroyed
*100% of enzymes are damaged, the body’s enzyme potential is depleted which drains energy needed to maintain and repair tissue and organ systems, thereby shortening the life span.
Please take a holistic, naturopathic approach the next time your dog has diarrhea or when you are trying to supplement vitamins “naturally” and seek out the root cause for the runny stools and/or digestive upset and consider supporting the dog naturally with probiotics and a fast. If the diarrhea is persistent for more than a day but the dog is still eating and drinking 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.