By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 6 December 2011)
Assuming that there are no secondary symptoms such as fever, lethargy, bloody stools, etc., adding a little pumpkin to the diet can be highly effective in treating both diarrhea and constipation. However, checking with a veterinarian first is recommended, as clearing up the diarrhea with pumpkin may mask an underlying infection or parasite infestation that requires treatment, or an allergy that necessitates dietary changes. Pumpkin should be considered a supplement to veterinary care, not a substitute for it.
I’ve used pumpkin to effectively treat diarrhea in foster kittens that suffered from intestinal worms, along with deworming medication, and to cure constipation and diarrhea in elderly cats with kidney disease. It worked very well in both cases, but I made sure that these cats received the veterinarian-prescribed treatments they required as well, because pumpkin simply treats an unpleasant symptom in such cases, not the underlying disorder.
Most cats and dogs like the taste of pumpkin and will accept it mixed in with their food (some even view it as a treat). Keep in mind that cats are obligate carnivores, so they get little if any nutritional value from the pumpkin. Because the pumpkin displaces some protein-rich food, they may need a little more high-protein food each day to replace it. Dogs are omnivores, so they should be able to get some nutritional value from the pumpkin supplement (though they shouldn’t be fed pumpkin exclusively, as it doesn’t meet all of their dietary needs).
As for dosing, recommendations range from half a teaspoon to several tablespoons per day. I usually give an adult cat about a tablespoon per day mixed in with her food, and kittens about half as much. Small dogs can have a similar amount to adult cats, but larger dogs will probably need at least a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin in their food to achieve the desired effect. Veterinarian recommendations I’ve found online suggest around 1-2 tablespoons per day for adult cats and 1-4 tablespoons per day for adult dogs, depending on the size of the dog (see reference list below for links to expert sources).
If using pumpkin to treat diarrhea or constipation, make sure you are purchasing plain, pureed pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling. Pie filling contains ingredients that can make pets ill.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for veterinary consultation and care.
- Drouin, A., DVM. (n.d.). “Why Are So Many Animals Getting IBD and What’s the Best Way to Treat It?” The Holistic Vet, holistic-vet.ca. (originally published in Animal Wellness Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 4.)
- Lauridia, D., DVM. (n.d.). “Ask the Vet: Constipation.” www.doggedhealth.com.
- VetInfo. (2010). “Pumpkin Treatment for Canine Constipation,” “Diarrhea and Loose Stool,” and “Cat Constipation Home Remedies.” VetInfo.com.