Canned pumpkin is popular with many people year-round and is most often used to help ease diarrhea and normalize stool quality in companion animals. But in our love for canned pumpkin, we often forget about all of the highly nutritious varieties of fresh winter squash prevalent this time of year.
So, you ask…why bother with fresh winter squash at all when that can of pumpkin is so handy? While canned products are suitable from time-to-time, fresh is always best when it comes to obtaining a food’s optimum health profile. This goes for our pets as well as for us. Plus, the taste and texture of fresh winter squash add a surprising boost to your pet’s meals!
Winter Squash Varieties You Can Use for Your Dog or Cat
- Red Kuri
- Sweet dumpling
Health Benefits of Winter Squash for Pets – Phytonutrients
Many of the winter squash varieties are full of vitamin A, vitamin C and carotenoids (e.g. beta-carotene). Carotenoids are phytonutrients that provide the red, orange and yellow pigments found in winter squash.
Phytonutrients are naturally-occurring plant chemicals with potent antioxidant properties. They have been shown to convey a number of health benefits to those who eat them, including protecting against heart disease, cancer and blocking tumor activity.
Phytonutrients may work via a variety of mechanisms, including:
- Serving as antioxidants
- Enhancing immune response
- Enhancing cell-to-cell communication
- Kill cancer cells (apoptosis)
- Repairing DNA damage caused by exposure to environmental toxins
Health Benefits of Winter Squash for Pets – Soluble Fiber
Many types of squashes, such as Hubbard and acorn, are excellent sources of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water and slows down the digestive process in the gastrointestinal tract, helping to control the loose, watery stools characteristic of diarrhea.
Yes, canned pumpkin is a convenient and healthy all-year-round food, but it should not replace the taste, texture, and nutrients from fresh squash. So, go ahead and try baking or steaming some up as a nutritious addition to your pet’s diet. He’ll love you for it!