Infrequent constipation in animals is expected and does occur with raw-fed carnivores from time to time. It can be due to an imbalance in the Frankenprey diet (too much bone), not eating enough or simply snacking on raw instead of eating it as bulk, or another underlying reason. If you are NOT a raw feeder, constipation and diarrhea are likely due to your use of dry and canned food. Nevertheless, the vet may recommend that you add canned pumpkin puree to their food until constipation is relieved. Does this work? Yes and sometimes.
Pumpkin is full of fiber and creates not only bulk, but adds moisture and lubrication to relieve painful straining and dry fecal matter. Pumpkin is full of enzymes. In fact, it is packed with them. So, you can see why enzymes and fiber will break down food and bulk it up. Some animals really like pumpkin and some don't, so you may need to mix up a tablespoon or two with their regular meals. Pumpkin should not be a component of a raw diet for healthy animals with intermittent constipation. This is used in times of constipation. The Frankenprey diet should be monitored carefully as to not cause diarrhea or constipation because organ or bone amounts are imbalanced. Give pumpkin puree until the animal defecates and perhaps in a couple of meals after that to make sure the digestive system is back to its normal functionality.
Pumpkin comes fresh, canned, frozen, and in pouches. Canned organic pumpkin can be found at Whole Foods and probably other grocery stores. The can lining is BPA-free. I also like organic pumpkin sold in pouches. Fresh pumpkin is terrific, but organic ones are hard to come by and carving pumpkins are not the same ones used in cans. When desiring fresh, use butternut squash. Both are members of the same family and have similar nutritional benefits. To make your own fresh squash/pumpkin puree, click here. Don't feed animals raw squash or pumpkin as they cause digestive upsets.
IMPORTANT! Not all canned pumpkin is created equal. Canned pumpkin pie mix/filling is NOT canned pumpkin. I was floored when I heard a vet technician explaining how she bought pumpkin pie mix for her dog's constipation, stating, 'it's the same thing'. Well, it isn't. This is what sparked me to write the article.
Pumpkin pie filling/mix is three things:
- Full of sugar and high in calories
- Includes other ingredients potentially harmful to the animal-syrup, salt, spices
- Contains preservatives
The ingredients on canned or pouched pumpkin should include pumpkin and water only. Nothing else. Using the filling or pie mix leads to more harm than good, even just once. You should always have a can of pumpkin puree in the pantry. You never know when you'll need it.