Did you know that you can make your own Halloween-appropriate pet treats using leftover pieces of pumpkin?
Pumpkin is actually very good for many animals, as it contains lots of fibre which can help keep pets’ digestive systems healthy and functioning. Before you dive into making your own pet treats, you should first learn which types of pumpkin are healthy for your four-legged friend to eat, and how much you can safely give them each day.
Pet healthcare specialists Bob Martin will take you through whether your pets can eat pumpkin, how they can consume it, and some recipes for your very own DIY pet treats with the leftovers from cooking and carving – so your pets can get involved with Halloween too!
Can my pet eat pumpkin?
The chances are, yes, your pet can eat pumpkin! Some animals just need it in smaller amounts than others, and it’s important to know whether your pet can enjoy the seeds, or if these are best taken out. Small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chickens all love to eat pumpkin. They prefer fresh pumpkin to the tinned kind. Gerbils enjoy pumpkin seeds (not the pumpkin itself) but you should avoid giving these seeds to chinchillas or guinea pigs.
Pumpkin is great for dogs in moderate amounts, as it helps their digestive system stay healthy. However, you should be aiming for only 4–5 tablespoons a couple of times per week — assuming your dog is of medium size — as too much can cause constipation. Adjust this amount accordingly if your pet is smaller or bigger. For dogs, the pumpkin should always be fresh (not tinned) and you should remove the rind, pulp, and stem as it can cause intestinal blockages.
You might be surprised to learn that cats can happily eat both fresh and tinned pumpkin. However, they should be given it in moderation as too much can cause diarrhoea. Try cutting the fresh pumpkin into chunks and steaming it to give your cat a treat that can keep their stomach healthy.
Frozen pumpkin yoghurt treats for dogs
Not only can dogs and puppies eat pumpkin in moderation, but they can also eat Greek yoghurt in small quantities. As it contains lactose, you should keep yoghurt portions to only treats, rather than feeding it in higher quantities, but it can be a great choice to add protein and probiotics to your pooch’s diet, which assists good digestion.
Take equal parts fresh pumpkin and Greek yoghurt, measuring with cups or a measuring jug depending on what’s easier for you. Mix the two ingredients together thoroughly and portion the mixture into ice cube trays with a spoon. Then, put them in the freezer for at least a few hours —preferably overnight. In the morning, you should have lots of cube-shaped dog treats all ready for your puppy or adult dog. Add one or two to their dinnertime meal or give the treats as a reward for responding to commands. Your pooch will love the new variety in their diet!
Baked pumpkin dog biscuits
Every dog loves dog biscuits. They’re a simple, crunchy, and satisfying snack. But did you know that you can make them yourself? These baked pumpkin dog treats will keep well in the fridge for up to a week in an air-tight container, and for three months in the freezer. They only contain three ingredients and are easy to whip up. You’ll need 400g of rolled oats (not quick-cooking or porridge oats), two eggs, and 140g of fresh pumpkin. Preheat your oven to 180° Celsius, and then blend the oats in a food processor until they are almost flour consistency but have some bigger pieces left.
Add the pumpkin and eggs to the blender and grind the mix until it forms a dough. Your pumpkin should blend into a puree consistency as you do this. Scoop out tablespoons and make small cookie shapes on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Flatten them with a fork dipped in flour to avoid it sticking. Bake them for 15–20 minutes, turning them over halfway through cooking. Cool the treats completely before giving them to your dog.
Peanut butter pumpkin balls for dogs
If you want a good treat to take with you on the go, look no further than these pumpkin peanut butter balls. All you’ll need is some fresh pumpkin blended to a puree, peanut butter, and porridge oats. Take 136g of fresh blended pumpkin, 68g of xylitol-free peanut butter and 340g of porridge oats. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl — start with a spoon, then switch to your hands as the mixture becomes thicker and dough-like.
When the mixture is thick enough, take a small amount and roll it into a ball. Complete this for the rest of the dough. Portion the treats according to your dog’s size, as smaller dogs and puppies will need little bites, and larger dogs will want something more substantial. Place the balls on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and put them in the fridge for a few hours. After they have been in the fridge for an hour or more, they should hold their shape, and you can then store them in a covered container without needing to keep them chilled. Take them with you on autumn walks for a pick-me-up when you and your dog are out and about.
Salmon and pumpkin kitty treats
If you want to give your cat a Halloween-themed treat, you can mix up some pumpkin with a favourite of cats, which is salmon. Cats love fish, and salmon is great for their coats as it contains plenty of healthy fats. For these bites, you’ll need 170g of oat flour (you can buy this or grind porridge oats in a food blender), 140g of tinned or packet salmon, one large egg, and 35g of pumpkin puree.
Preheat your oven to 160° Celsius and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Break the salmon up with a fork and combine it with the oat flour, egg, and pumpkin in a bowl, using a spoon or electric mixer to blend them thoroughly. Place the resulting dough onto the baking tray, sprinkle it with some additional oat flour, and press it down. You should end up with a biscuit-like sheet about a centimetre thick filling the baking tray. Bake the mix for 15 minutes, and then take it out of the oven to cut it into small chunks. Then, bake for a final 15-20 minutes. These treats can be stored in the fridge for one week, or in the freezer for longer.
Pumpkin rabbit treats
Rabbits love treats and being able to experience variety in their diet. So, try making them some tasty pumpkin treats for them to eat! You’ll need three tablespoons of pumpkin puree (or tinned pumpkin), 46g of rolled oats, four tablespoons of dried apples (no stems or pips though), three tablespoons of water, and 70g of flour.
Preheat your oven to 220° Celsius, and then mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. The mixture should have the same consistency as cookie dough. When mixed, scoop out one teaspoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball. Place it on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, and then repeat for the rest of the dough. Bake your treats for 15 minutes. Give your rabbits no more than one treat per day to keep their starch and sugar content low. They should enjoy having something new with their lunch or dinner!
These treats are also suitable for dogs, and can form part of a healthy diet for canines due to the fibre content. Remember that wholewheat flour is best for pets, as it contains less simple carbohydrates and more protein and roughage.
This is a guest post by Bob Martin.