Sooner or later, all pet owners have to deal with dog diarrhea. While it’s definitely not fun, often times adding pumpkin to their diet can help them feel better right away (as always, consult with your vet).
However, pumpkin is not always available, and can be pricey or difficult to find out of season. This post covers why pumpkin works, and what you can use instead of pumpkin for your dog.
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Why Give Your Dog Pumpkin?
The reason that pumpkin helps dogs with diarrhea and loose stools is because it contains fiber. This fiber content absorbs water, and also has other intestinal benefits that act as a prebiotic, stimulating helpful bacteria growth in the bowls.
The Merck veterinary manual recommends adding 1 to 4 Tbsp to your dog’s food per meal to help with diarrhea and/or constipation. As with all dietary changes, consult your vet, and ramp the changes in over time.
When vomiting is more serious
If your dog’s symptoms do not improve, or if diarrhea or constipation is a regular issue, you should bring them to a vet, as there are a number of underlying causes that should be investigated. These range from parvo to food allergies to more serious illness.
In the case of any diarrhea that is very watery, frequent, contains blood, or if your dog is lethargic, vomiting, and/or very young or old, see a vet immediately.
Do not use canned pumpkin pie filling!
Additionally, be sure that you only use plain canned pumpkin.
You should only use plain, canned pumpkin. Do NOT use canned pumpkin pie mix, as it often includes xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
It may also include added sugars or seasoning that is not save for your pup.
But, canned pumpkin is not always available. If you live in an area where canned pumpkin is not sold, or it’s only available seasonally, there are some alternatives.
Canned Pumpkin Alternatives
Canned pumpkin is difficult to find in some areas, because of supply chain issues, or simple seasonal demand.
The main benefit of pumpkin is its healthy fiber content. Other foods that you can mix in that have these same benefits are:
The most popular replacement for canned potatoes (based on dog forums) is sweet potato. This is because sweet potatoes are tasty, easy to find, and are often already included in dog kibble.
To use sweet potato as a canned pumpkin alternative, remove the skins, bake or boil the sweet potatoes, then mash them. Do not use any flavorings or seasonings.
You can make a large batch of sweet potato mash, ball them into 1-4 Tbsp sized chunks, and then freeze them for later.
Sweet potato is starchier than pumpkin, so be aware that you are feeding your dog more carbohydrates. This may be an issue for inactive dogs or dogs with underlying health issues.
You can substitute squash in place of pumpkin for dogs. Use cooked, mashed squash without any seasonings, and give it to your dog in the same quantity that you would with pumpkin (1-4 Tbsp per meal).
You can use butternut or acorn squash in place of pumpkin. Remove the seeds, bake it without any spices or seasonings, and then mash the squash (discarding the outer shell).
If desired, you can cook the squash, freeze it in balls, and have them on hand if need be.
If squash is not in season near you, check the refrigerated or frozen food aisles. Some stores (such as Trader Joes) sell cubed squash.
The Merck veterinary manual also suggests psyllium (1–4 tsp per meal). This is the scientific term for unflavored Metamucil. You can give one teaspoon per five pounds of your dog’s body weight, mixed in with your dog’s food.
More Places to Find Canned Pumpkin
You might have luck finding canned pumpkin at a local health food store, or on Amazon.
You can also buy shelf-stable pumpkin mix-ins for your dog from Chewy:
Dogs who suffer from intestinal issues can benefit from the healthy fiber found in canned pumpkin. However, it’s sometimes difficult for their owners to have pumpkin on hand.
Healthy replacements for canned pumpkin include squash, sweet potato, and unflavored Metamucil.
If your dog is having frequent issues, if they are very old or very young, or the diarrhea is accompanied by blood, vomiting, or other serious symptoms, get them to a vet right away.
Psst! Love pumpkins in general? Check out our post on pumpkin-inspired dog accessories.