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Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice: Healthy Homemade Treats for Pets

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An orange-colored dog with a leaf bandana lies down next to pumpkins

With the arrival of fall comes cool weather, changing leaves, and, most importantly, the return of all things pumpkin! But since pets can’t join you in sipping that pumpkin spiced latte or enjoying that decadent piece of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, we’ve found some ways you can help them enjoy the flavors of fall and the upcoming holidays. These homemade pumpkin-based treats are easy to make, super tasty, and packed with healthy nutrients for your cat or dog.

The Benefits of Making Your Own Pet Treats

Homemade treats have numerous benefits, not just for your pet but for you and the earth, too! With DIY treats, since you’re making them, you have the assurance that the foods your dog or cat is eating are free from harmful ingredients. And since no two pets are the same and have different nutritional needs to consider, homemade treats give you the convenience of being able to customize the size as well as which ingredients are used. You control everything that goes into your treats. Making treats at home is also an eco-friendly way to show your pet how much you love them and help reduce waste at the same time. Finally, high-quality pet treats aren’t cheap! Making your own goodies is a great way of saving a little money while still treating your pet.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Did you know that pumpkin is an incredible superfood for our pets, especially dogs? It's packed with essential micronutrients and fiber, making it an incredibly nutritious treat. Not only does pumpkin naturally soothe upset stomachs, but it also aids in removing excess water from a dog's digestive tract. Pet owners have relied on pumpkin for a long time to reduce instances of diarrhea as well as constipation in their pets. Your pet’s pumpkin-based treats should never be considered a replacement for a balanced diet, but they can give a boost to your pet’s nutrition.

Other health benefits include:

  • Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

    Pumpkin is a nutrient-dense food, low in calories and high in important vitamins, including vitamins A, C, and E. Pumpkin is also jam-packed with antioxidants, beneficial fatty acids, and essential minerals like iron and potassium, providing all-around immune support and benefiting hair, eyes, nails, and heart health.

  • Great for digestion

    Pumpkin is good for your dog’s digestion because of its high soluble fiber content, which adds bulk to their stool and helps reduce issues with diarrhea. However, if your pet is dealing with frequent diarrhea, it’s best to have them checked out by their veterinarian.

  • Prebiotic powerhouse

    Prebiotics are essential compounds found in pumpkins. They can help your pup strengthen their digestive health and encourage the growth of important bacteria within the digestive tract.

    Learn more about how pet insurance could help you cover your pet’s eligible veterinary care expenses.

  • Pumpkin Precautions

    When it comes to pumpkin pet treats, moderation is essential, and while pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, too much vitamin A can be toxic to pets. It’s essential to monitor the amount of pumpkin you give your dog and consult with your veterinarian to ensure the appropriate dosage for your pet’s specific needs or before making significant changes to your pet’s diet. Treats are not meant to replace your pet’s regular meals. When it comes to what your cat or dog eats, a properly balanced meal is the most important thing.

    Keep in mind, there are some pumpkin products that your pet should never consume. For example, never share the storebought pumpkin pie with your pup—its filling could contain xylitol and other spices that are extremely harmful to your pet. In addition, your pet shouldn't eat any of the pumpkin imitation products so often sold in stores, such as pumpkin spiced cookies or creamers.

Pumpkin Treat Recipes for Pets

We’ve gathered our favorite pumpkin-based pet treat recipes, so you and your pets can enjoy them, too! From sweet to savory, crunchy to soft, these goodies are nutritious, delicious, and easy to make.

Pumpkin Pie Cookies

Packed with the perfect combo of applesauce, oatmeal, and pumpkin, your cat or dog will love these sweet treats. Don't forget to use plain, unsweetened applesauce for the ultimate healthy snack.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (100% pumpkin, not spiced)
  • 2 cups rice flour
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • ¼ cup flour for rolling

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Blend carrots, applesauce and pumpkin using a food processor until smooth.
  3. Mix rice flour and oatmeal in a bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix gently to form a dough.
  4. On a floured breadboard, place dough and roll out to about ¼ inch thick. Cut out cookies using your favorite cookie cutters.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes on a greased cookie sheet, turning just after the halfway point.
  6. Let cool and serve!

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Four-Legged Pumpkin Cookies

These little pumpkin cookies are tasty and jam-packed with healthy ingredients that your four-legged pals will love. Just make sure the pumpkin puree does not contain spices that may upset pet tummies.

Ingredients:

  • (1) 15 oz can of plain pumpkin puree (100% pumpkin, not spiced)
  • ½ cup nonfat powdered milk
  • ½ cup traditional cream of wheat cereal (uncooked)
  • ¼ cup multigrain baby cereal (uncooked)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet or use a pastry bag to pipe shapes.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until the outside is firm.
  5. Cool completely before serving.

Store in an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for up to a week.

Frozen Banana Pumpkin Treats

These fruit and veggie frozen goodies check every box—not only are they a great way to cool down, but they're also packed with all the goodness pumpkin has to offer with the added flavor and health benefits of banana.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (100% pumpkin, not spiced)
  • 1 banana, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Mix pumpkin and yogurt together in a bowl.
  2. Divide the mixture evenly into an ice tray or molds and top with banana slices.
  3. Freeze for 24 hours.
  4. Pop the treats out of the mold and put into a freezer bag for storage. (You can also leave them in the ice tray if you have space in your freezer.)

Store in the freezer for up to three months.

Pumpkin Carrot Bites

These tasty little pumpkin carrot bites are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and contain loads of nutrients!

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin (100% pumpkin, no added ingredients)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ¼ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir pumpkin, egg, carrots, and flour in a large bowl until moistened.
  3. Roll the batter into small balls and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes.
  5. Let cool and serve!

Store in an airtight container for up to a week

Easy Roasted Pumpkin Seed Snack

If you have a ton of seeds left over after Halloween, give this recipe a try! You can also grind your roasted pumpkin seeds before adding them to your pet’s food to avoid the risk of choking.

Ingredients:

  • Pumpkin seeds (veterinarians recommend using raw, organic seeds; avoid salted seeds)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Prepare the seeds by rinsing them and picking out the pulp and goopy pumpkin stuff.
  3. Spread the seeds on a very lightly oiled baking sheet.
  4. Bake about 20-25 minutes until nicely toasted, stirring every 10 minutes.
  5. Let cool and enjoy.

Store any leftover pumpkin seeds in sealed bags to preserve freshness.

Reminder: Treats do not replace daily meals and shouldn’t make up more than 10% of a pet’s caloric intake. Stomach upset may occur due to dietary changes. Talk to your veterinarian for more info.

Tips for Storing and Serving Homemade Pet Treats Safely

From proper storage methods to shelf-life guidelines, we've got you covered. Keep those tails wagging and purrs coming with these tips for storing and serving homemade pet treats safely. As a reminder, always examine the treat before you give it to your pet. If it’s at all suspect, (soggy, stinky, discolored, moldy), don't feed it to them, and throw the remainder of the treats out.

Storage Methods

When it comes to homemade pet treats, proper storage is key. Figuring out the best way to store the treats you whip up can make them last longer, giving your four-legged friend extra munching time.

At Room Temperature: Dry treats that are stored in an airtight container or sealable bag at room temperature are generally good for up to 7 days max.

In the Refrigerator: Your pet treats will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, maximum. Store in an airtight container or sealable bag for best results.

In the Freezer: When stored in a resealable freezer bag, your treats can last up to 3 months. Allow to thaw before serving to your cat or dog

Homemade pet treats should always be kept in an airtight container, or, if freezing for longer-term storage, use a vacuum-sealed bag.

How Long Do Homemade Pet Treats Last?

There are lots of variables which can affect shelf life of homemade treats, including ingredients, method, environment, and how they’re stored.

Recipes that incorporate fruits and/or vegetables have the advantage of maintaining their softness, even after they've cooled down. However, treats like these, including soft dog treats in general, may not last as long and must be refrigerated. As a rule of thumb, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for one to two weeks maximum.

Dog treats containing meat, fish, or a meat-based broth or bouillon, should be stored in the refrigerator as soon as they're completely cool. Keep them in the fridge in an airtight container, and they should stay fresh for about five days.

Dry, crunchy treats store well. In general, the drier and crunchier the treat, the better it will store and the longer it will stay fresh. For most treat recipes you can increase the crunch-factor by drying them out a bit more at the end of their recommended baking time. Dry treats (that don't contain meat or fish) can usually be kept in an airtight container for a week and in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Remember, homemade pumpkin treats can be a delicious and nutritious way to show your pet how much you care. However, it’s important to think about their specific dietary needs and how they may vary, so it’s always good to consult a veterinarian before making significant changes to your cat or dog’s diet.

An ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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