The problem with store-bought doggy treats is that they are often full of additives, allergens, and junk that has no nutritional value for your pup. In fact, some things can be actively harmful, like artificial flavorings. That’s why we created a delicious and easy peanut butter & pumpkin dog treat recipe to keep your best friend’s tail wagging.
These DIY pumpkin & peanut butter dog biscuits and doggy popsicles are easy to make and genuinely designed to benefit your dog. They’re homemade, canine snacks that are not only great for skin and coat but also specially formulated to help your dog with constipation and digestion.
They’re great as a training aid and to cool your pup down on a hot day. But first, let’s explain why pumpkin is so good for canines.
In this article:
Is Pumpkin Good for Dogs?
Given in moderation, pumpkin is exceptionally healthy for dogs. When pureed, they are a great source of nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, and E. It also contains minerals such as iron and potassium.
Most importantly, pureed pumpkin is choc-full of soluble fiber. This helps your dog’s digestive system by:
- Absorbing water
- Stimulating intestinal sodium
- Containing antioxidants like beta-carotene
- Lowering the PH level in the gut and inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria
- Fermenting in such a way as to release good fatty acids
- Acting as a prebiotic to help healthy gut bacteria
In fact, pumpkin is so good for your dog; it’s helpful to keep a can of pureed pumpkin around just in case your pup develops constipation or diarrhea.
How much pumpkin puree can I give my dog every day?
Pumpkin puree can form part of your dog’s daily diet in small amounts. A small dog should get no more than half a teaspoon to a full teaspoon based on size, while larger dogs can go up to one or two tablespoons if they are big enough.
Keep an eye out for vomiting or runny stools that may be a sign your dog is not digesting the pumpkin well. Also, make sure they drink plenty of water since the soluble fiber absorbs a lot of it.
What are the benefits and risks of pumpkin for dogs?
Keep in mind that pumpkin should only be fed to your dog in moderate amounts. Too much fiber can intervene in the absorption of nutrients and cause diarrhea.
In dogs with constipation, the Merck Veterinary Manual suggests feeding a dog 1-4 tbsp per meal to help your dog pain relief.
On the other hand, if your pup has diarrhea, the soluble fiber in the pumpkin can help bulk up their stool and settle their stomach.
While this sounds great, you should also be clear about what is causing constipation or diarrhea in your dog, as pumpkin won’t help for something serious like an intestinal blockage or an illness like Parvo.
Another danger is giving your dog the wrong kind of pureed pumpkin. Plain pumpkin you pureed at home is acceptable for your pup in moderate amounts.
Plain canned pumpkin from stores is also perfect for your dog and contains even more fiber.
However, be careful to read the label because some ingredients in canned pumpkin, especially that made for pumpkin pie, can contain sugar, xylitol, or other additives that are dangerous for your dog.
Healthy DIY recipe for the best pumpkin dog biscuit: Ingredients
- 2 – 3 cups wholewheat, stone-ground flour (only use the third cup as needed until dough is no longer sticky)
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup of pureed pumpkin (canned, with no additives or sweeteners. If not available, then boil frozen chunks until soft and blend or mash into a puree).
- 2 tablespoons of Flaxseed oil
- 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter, unsweetened with no xylitol or salt.
- 1/4 cup crushed pumpkin seeds (place in blender and pulse for 30 seconds)
Every ingredient in this treat is chosen with special care to be of maximum benefit to your dog’s health, not just the pumpkin.
To avoid allergens, you can replace the wholewheat flour with coconut flour or flour of your choice.
But be careful with the quantity you feed your dog since too much fiber can cause diarrhea in dogs, and coconut flour is incredibly high in fiber.
Together with fiber already in the pumpkin, it may be a bit too much for most dogs to digest comfortably.
Allergies to Eggs or Peanut Butter in dog treats
If your dog is allergic to eggs or peanut butter, you can replace them with an overripe banana or avocado.
We chose flaxseed oil as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is excellent for your dog’s skin and coat and an anti-inflammatory.
Keep in mind that owners should omega-6 fatty acids, and omega-3 should be balanced in a ratio of 5-1 for dogs for maximum benefit in a dog’s diet.
Contrary to popular belief, oleic acid, like the oil found in olive oil, doesn’t benefit dogs.
For this reason, we chose peanut butter as our primary protein source since it is extremely high in omega-6 fatty acids and therefore is a good match for the omega-3s in the flaxseed oil, making this snack a powerhouse of good fats for your pup.
We did not use coconut oil since it is pretty high in saturated fat, although many dog owners swear by it.
We added crushed pumpkin seeds for an extra boost in crucial minerals and to help against any internal parasites. That’s right! Pumpkin seeds can help fight against intestinal worms.
And to bind it all together, eggs are also super-nutritious for canines. They are high in Vitamin B2, B12, and B5. They are also a great source of selenium and phosphorus.
Finally, keep in mind that cooking time may vary according to the thickness and shape of the biscuits you cut out.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the instructions:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line a baking tray with bakery paper.
- Beat together the pumpkin, egg, and peanut butter together until smooth.
- Gradually, working the first 2 cups of flour. Only work in the third bit-by-bit until the dough is no longer sticky. Don’t add more than you need.
- Dust your working surface lightly with flour. Roll out your dough with a rolling pin until it is roughly an inch thick. Using your cookie cutters, cut out the shapes for your dog biscuits.
- Place in the oven for 15 to 25 minutes. Bake until the edges are golden brown.
- Leave to cool.
*note that the length of time the biscuits take to bake can vary according to size and thickness. It’s advisable to stay close and keep an eye on them to prevent them from burning.
To avoid the additives that are sometimes found in canned pumpkin, we made our own pumpkin puree by slicing off the rind and scooping out the seeds and pulp. We cut these into chunks, boiled till soft, and popped them in the blender.
Unfortunately, since we used a quarter of a mid-sized pumpkin, this left us with just too much puree for the doggy biscuits.
Luckily, since summer was around the corner, we decided to use the excess to create yummy and super healthy pumpkin peanut butter popsicles!
Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Popsicle doggy treats
- 2-3 cups pumpkin Puree (leftover from the pumpkin doggy biscuits)
- 2/3 cup yogurt (can be replaced with coconut milk or goat’s milk)
- 1/2 cup smooth plain peanut with no xylitol, sugar, or salt.
- Popsicle or ice cube molds
To increase the nutritional value of these doggy treats, you can also add:
- 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon of Turmeric
- 2 Teaspoons of doggy probiotics for digestive health, available at your vet
- 2 Tablespoons of joint support supplements such as collagen, chondroitin, green-lipped mussel extract, and other goodies that are great for your dog.
- Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl until well blended
- Pour mixture into your molds. We used a muffin tray for this, but it’s better to use a popsicle or several ice trays.
- Freeze overnight.
Et voila! Two yummy pumpkin-based treats packed full of essential nutrients that are both yummy and super healthy for your pup!
A final word
Making DIY treats for your pup at home can be rewarding and fun.
Plus, you get to skip the misleading labels, additives, and other junk often sold in the stores. But when making treats for your pup, always remember, snacks should never account for more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie allowance.
Most of their nutrients need to come from a well-formulated, vet-approved diet.
Another great rule of thumb is that just because something is good for you or trendy in the health and fitness circles at the moment doesn’t mean it’s great for your dog. So be sure to speak to your vet if you are unsure or if your dog shows signs of digestive upset.
Article and pictures by Tamsin de la Harpe