Pumpkin pie is the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert. It is even a healthier option than apple pie. Since the holiday is all about family, you may wonder, can dogs have pumpkin pie? After all, your pup is a part of your inner circle, too. Unfortunately, we have to break the bad news. The pie on your dining room table isn’t a good choice for your best friend. However, all is not lost, as you’ll see.
Whenever you’re faced with this kind of choice, it’s best to deconstruct the recipe. It’s a smart plan if you’re dealing whether you’re dealing with a processed food or something made from scratch. If you know what’s in it, you can make adjustments to make it safe for your pup. It’s also essential to consider whether it offers any nutritional value that would make it a good addition.
Nutritional Facts About Pumpkin Pie
Let’s start with some numbers. According to the Cooking Channel, a slice of pie contains 316 calories, 41 grams of carbs, 5 grams of saturated fat, and 7 grams of protein. The calorie count exceeds the total amount that pups less than 10 pounds should consume in an entire day. However, it’s even a lot for a 70-pound dog since it’s over one-third of that pet’s recommended amount.
The percentage of treats—like pumpkin pie—shouldn’t exceed more than 10 percent of your pup’s total calorie intake. This dessert clearly makes sticking within those guidelines. We can point our fingers at the primary sources of these calories, fat, and carbohydrates. The former contains 9 calories per gram, while the latter contributes 4 calories per gram.
While there isn’t an official recommendation on carbs, the amount in the pie makes it an inappropriate choice for diabetic pets. The fat content is also problematic. The range for adult dogs is 5–8 grams total. It’s easy to see that things aren’t looking good for pumpkin pie as a treat for your pet. Unfortunately, that’s not where it ends.
Other Suspect Ingredients
Whether you use a commercial spice mix or add the ingredients from your pantry, your recipe will likely include a combination of:
The only relatively safe one on the list is ginger. All the others have the potential to cause GI distress, nausea, and irritation. Cinnamon can also affect your pup’s blood sugar levels. Cloves aren’t as worrisome as the others. It’s probably more likely to make your cat sick than your dog. It’s worth noting that the oil is toxic to canines instead of the powder form you’d use with this recipe.
Other ingredients you’ll typically see in a pumpkin pie recipe include the filling, of course. If you use unsweetened pumpkin without salt, you’re probably okay. This fruit is relatively healthy on its own and may even offer some health value. The classic recipe also contains evaporated milk and sugar. The former is too rich for dogs with sensitive digestive systems and can cause an upset stomach.
The sugar content is another issue. It’s a problem for diabetic pets, as we’ve mentioned. It’s also a source of empty calories for dogs and people. That’s especially true when you juxtapose it with the total calories a canine should get per day. It’s not a lot to meet your pet’s nutritional needs. As a dog owner, you must use it wisely with a high-quality commercial diet for the bulk of your pup’s calories.
Your dog may find digesting pumpkin pie difficult because it’s a far stretch from his normal diet. Canines are carnivores and may lack the enzymes to digest the ingredients in this dessert. Allergies are another possibility, albeit remote at best. Your pup is more likely to have issues with animal-based proteins than what’s in the typical pumpkin pie recipe.
A Better Option
Interestingly, other than the problematic ingredients, much of what we’ve talked about could apply to people eating pumpkin pie, too. However, it’s not all bad. There’s also a cloud with a silver lining. As we mentioned, pumpkin isn’t an issue. It is an excellent source of several essential nutrients, including vitamin A, B complex vitamins, and potassium.
The other vital takeaway is the fiber content. It applies bulk to your pup’s diet for optimal digestive system health. It also acts like a prebiotic that can support the growth of beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut. Like many things, pumpkin falls into that gray area that may offer some other ways that you can safely give it to your pet.
The solution is to give your pet a modified version of your pumpkin pie recipe to make it safer and healthier for your dog. That means skipping the spices. Your pup won’t notice the difference. You can also eliminate the sugar. We don’t recommend substituting it with another sweetener, such as honey or agave nectar.
The better option is to omit it from the recipe and rely on the pumpkin’s natural sweetness.
You can also skip the crust by baking the pie in a ramekin. You’re left with a plain version of the dessert. While you may not like it, your pet probably won’t mind. We also suggest leaving out the whipped cream for the same reasons.
We recommend thinking carefully about whether to offer your dog people foods like pumpkin pie. It’s not something a canine would typically eat. It’s also a slippery slope when you start giving your pup something outside of his regular, nutritionally complete diet. However, if you want to offer the modified pumpkin pie to your pet, we recommend doing it in moderation.
Pumpkin of itself isn’t harmful to your dog. It can offer a healthy addition to your pup’s diet if he needs more bulk. It’s low in fat and rich in nutrients. The pie is another story. It includes several ingredients that are potentially toxic to your pet. That’s saying nothing about the sugar and calories. If you want to give it to your dog, eliminate the ingredients that could cause problems to celebrate the holiday.