Are Pumpkins Safe for Pets? A Guide to Feeding Your Furry Friends During Halloween

Cat in a pumpkin patch.

Pumpkins…they’re probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Halloween. But with 40 million1 expected to leave UK shops this autumn, pet parents might be left wondering just how safe pumpkins are for their animals.

This seasonal fruit brings plenty of joy to us humans during October and November, but with so many lying around it’s important to know just how careful we need to be when it comes to pumpkins and our furry friends. Animal wellbeing specialist at Animal Friends Pet Insurance, Catrin George, teamed up with their vet partner, Joii Pet Care, to share some of the unexpected treats and ‘watch outs’ around the jack-o-lanterns:

The gourd news 

The good news is that pumpkin flesh and seeds are edible and safe for pets to eat, and being naturally high in vitamins and fibre, they’re actually pretty good for them.

Fibre can be really helpful for any upset stomachs2. Catrin adds:

“As well as fibre, pumpkins also offer our pets vitamins A and C along with minerals like potassium and iron.

Many of us also tend to overlook pumpkin seeds and throw them away once the carving is complete, but they’re packed with omega fatty acids, so giving them a roast, grinding up the seeds and sprinkling them over our pet’s food can help with healthy skin, joints, and heart3.”

It’s not just Halloween time that offers up this sumptuous treat! Your pet can benefit all year round as pumpkin puree offers just the same amount of health benefits as fresh pumpkin and isn’t limited to being seasonal. Catrin comments:

“Tinned pureed pumpkin can be just as beneficial as the fresh alternative. It can also make it a lot easier to add to food, or even as a fun tasty treat or reward in a training toy. It’s vital however to make sure that it’s pure pureed pumpkin and not an artificially sweetened puree containing Xylitol, as this is extremely toxic for pets4.”

How not to be tricked by this treat 

Before you get ahead of the carve this Halloween and dive straight into the world of pumpkin treats for your pets, it’s important to be aware of any frights that this squash has to offer. Catrin advises:

“Our pets don’t have thumbs which means they often explore new things with their mouths. The stem and rind of a pumpkin can be particularly dangerous for our furry friends as not only are they a choking hazard, if they do manage to swallow the rind itself, they won’t be able to digest it5. Lumps of rind can get stuck in the intestine meaning an emergency trip to the vets for treatment and even potential costly surgery.”

Here are the forms of pumpkin that are not safe for your pet: 

  • Raw.
  • Carved.
  • In a pie/Sugary pumpkin pie filling.
  • Mixed with additives.

Also, avoid any pumpkin products that contain: 

  • Xylitol.
  • Salt.
  • Sugar.
  • Spices.
  • Oil.
  • Flavourings.

Catrin says: “It’s always an exciting and spook-tacular orientated time of year for the family, so what better way to include our pets than by keeping them healthy with this seasonal snack? And pumpkin isn’t the only orange treat you can give them this autumn. Cats and dogs can also benefit from butternut squash and sweet potatoes. However, whatever you choose to treat them with this Halloween, it’s important that you introduced it to their diet slowly, only give it in moderation, and you seek vet advice beforehand.”

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