Can Dogs Eat Pumpkin Seeds? What To Know If Your Pup Wants To Devour The Jack-O-Lantern Guts
A veterinarian explains what’s safe and what’s not.
It's that time of year again: pumpkin stuff here, pumpkin stuff there, pumpkin stuff everywhere! Not surprisingly, pumpkin seeds are a popular snack in the fall, especially after you've carved out your jack-o-lanterns with the kids and are left with the stickiness from inside the gourd. Roasting pumpkin seeds is a favorite tradition for many families, and for good reason — pumpkin seeds are chockfull of nutritional goodness, including being an excellent source of magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. If you have a dog, though, you might wonder if dogs can eat pumpkin seeds. Because let's be real, when you're knee-deep in pumpkin guts with your kids, your pup will probably seize the opportunity to gobble down a pile of the orange, seed-filled goop.
If this scenario sounds familiar, don't worry; Fido will be just fine. Still, while pumpkin seeds aren't likely to cause your dog any harm from time to time, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here's what to know about your pup and pumpkin seeds.
Can dogs eat pumpkin seeds?
Yes — and they can actually be a healthy little treat. "Roasted, baked, or toasted pumpkin seeds are safe for a dog to consume and can be a healthy snack," Paola Cuevas, a veterinarian, MVZ, and behaviorist with excitedcats.com, tells Scary Mommy. "As long as no excess fat, salts, or any other condiment is added to them, pumpkin seeds are a great way of adding to your dog's nutrition."
What are the benefits of pumpkin seeds for dogs?
Both humans and dogs can benefit from the many nutritional benefits of pumpkin seeds. "Pumpkin seeds are a source of healthy fats, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber," Cuevas says. "One ounce of pumpkin seeds has approximately 160 calories, 14 grams of fats, 8.5 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.7 grams of fiber. Pumpkin seeds are a source of micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. [They also] contain vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps to reduce free radical damage at the cellular level."
How many pumpkin seeds can I feed a dog?
According to Cuevas, small dogs can safely consume 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin seeds for every 10 pounds of body weight spread throughout the day: "You can feed them as snacks or grind them and add them to their regular food."
Are pumpkin seeds dangerous for dogs?
While there's nothing toxic about pumpkin seeds that would harm your furry friend when consumed as a treat, Cuevas cautions they are not a complete and balanced meal for a dog. Although they can be a great way to add to your dog's health, "They should only be fed in moderation as a supplement to their normal diet."
Additionally, she says pumpkin seeds can be dangerous to dogs if they are prepared with excessive oils, salts, or condiments such as onion or garlic, which are highly toxic for dogs.
"Daily feeding a dog a small amount of onion in any form can have a cumulative effect on them," she explains. "This is why it is very important to avoid feeding anything that might contain these spices that can cause serious health issues to a dog."
Cuevas points out some dogs are more susceptible than others, explaining, "Normally 15-30 grams of onion per kilogram of body weight of the dog can result in intoxication and the development of hemolytic anemia known as Heinz body anemia."
Pumpkin seeds are also rich in fat and are not easy to digest, Cuevas adds, which means feeding too many pumpkin seeds — even if prepared correctly — could cause a dog to suffer from gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea. And because pumpkin seeds are calorie-rich, feeding those extra calories to your dog regularly can cause it to put on weight. "Excessive weight is unhealthy and has negative consequences on a dog's overall health," cautions Cuevas. "Moderation is the key."
What are the symptoms when a dog has consumed too many pumpkin seeds?
The most common symptom of a dog that has consumed too many pumpkin seeds will be gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea, says Cuevas. If your dog has consumed pumpkin seeds with spices like garlic and onions, the effects can take up to 12 hours to become obvious.
"The first signs a dog presents are usually vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, and dehydration," Cuevas explains. "After a few days, anemia signs become obvious, the dog will have difficulty breathing, have a rapid respiratory and heart rate, and its gums will look pale and might present dark color reddish or brown urine. The dog will need emergency veterinary care, including intravenous fluids and blood transfusions. If your dog shows signs of gastrointestinal distress, it is better to bring them to the clinic sooner after recent ingestions. Gastric decontamination and the use of absorbers can reduce the damage."
So, if you suspect your dog has consumed pumpkin seeds that have been cooked with onion or garlic, it's better to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.
If your dog has consumed pumpkin seeds that are simply baked and roasted without anything added (or raw, aka Mr. Jack-O-Lantern's insides), Cuevas recommends keeping a close eye on the pup, making sure it keeps well hydrated, and monitoring its feces. "Temporary diarrhea should pass in less than 24 hours, [so] put the dog on a bland and easy-to-digest diet for a day or two. If the dog has obvious signs of pain or discomfort, excessive vomiting, or diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours, please bring the dog to the veterinarian."