Fall is finally here, and all the cozy things that come with it. Sweaters, fuzzy boots, apple cider, and of course, pumpkin spice everything. It doesn’t matter if you love pumpkin spice or if you hate it, it’s everywhere this time of year. Drinks, desserts, and candles, pumpkin spice is the iconic taste and scent of the season.
If you are a fan, you may be wondering if you can share some of your pumpkin spice treats with your pup. Let’s break down pumpkin spice. We’ll talk about what’s actually in it, if it is safe for your pup, and some safe fall treats you can make for your dog.
What is Pumpkin Spice?
Despite the name, pumpkin spice doesn’t necessarily contain pumpkin. It’s actually a blend of spices that is traditionally used in many fall desserts, some of which aren’t made with pumpkins. Pumpkin spice is used for flavoring pumpkin and sweet potato pies, can be used as a seasoning for roasted root vegetables, and can of course, be found in coffee drinks and even beer. The spice blend used to create the iconic flavor includes:
Allspice (some blends)
Is Pumpkin Spice Safe For Your Dog?
The spices that make up a pumpkin spice blend vary in their toxicity for your dog. In very small amounts, pumpkin spice isn’t dangerous, but it definitely isn’t something your dog should be ingesting every day or in large amounts. For your dog’s safety, it’s best to avoid pumpkin spice altogether, especially for small dogs who may be more sensitive.
Cinnamon- Not toxic to dogs, but use with care. Too much cinnamon can cause some irritation of the mouth and GI tract. A small sprinkle of cinnamon won’t cause a problem, but it definitely isn’t something your dog needs all the time.
Nutmeg- Nutmeg should definitely be kept away from your dog. It contains a chemical called myristicin which can cause hallucinations, disorientation, increased blood pressure, and seizures. It takes a large quantity to cause severe problems, but it’s best to avoid it.
Cloves and Allspice- These spices contain a chemical called eugenol which can be toxic to dogs in large amounts. A small amount is not harmful, but this can vary by dog, and some may be more sensitive than others.
Ginger- Ginger is not toxic, and has some benefits for your pet. It can help soothe tender tummies and has anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit swollen joints. But you can have too much of a good thing, and too much ginger can cause some stomach irritation.
Aside from the toxicity of some of the ingredients in pumpkin spice, you should also be aware of the other ingredients in some of the fall treats that contain it. Baked treats can be high in sugar and fat. Too much fat can cause an upset stomach or even pancreatitis in dogs.
Never give your dog anything containing raisins or macadamia nuts, which are often in baked goods that are made with pumpkin spice, as these are highly toxic to dogs. Sugar-free treats also pose a danger since they are often made with xylitol, which is also not canine-friendly.
Safe Fall Treats For Your Dog
You may not be able to split a pumpkin spice muffin with your dog, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share a taste of fall with them. Pumpkin spice may not be safe for your dog, but pumpkin is! If you have a dog with digestive problems, a pup on a diet, or if you just like keeping meals exciting, pumpkin is an excellent choice for mealtime.
Filled with fiber and vitamin A, as well as potassium, pumpkin is a great healthy addition to your dog’s diet. The fiber content aids in digestion and makes your dog feel full longer. You can give your dog plain, pureed pumpkin by itself or mixed into their food, or indulge them a little with homemade dog treats made with pumpkin and other healthy ingredients.
DIY Pumpkin Dog Frozen Treats
These frozen pumpkin treats from the AKC are a delicious, healthy treat and so perfect for a warmer fall day.
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup plain pumpkin puree
Mix the pumpkin and yogurt together in a bowl.
Divide the mixture evenly into an ice tray or molds.
Freeze the tray for 24 hours.
Remove the treats from the mold, and place them in a freezer bag for storage.
If you use canned pumpkin, make sure it is puree and not pie mix since pie pumpkin will be filled with sugar and spices. You can always choose to jazz up the treats by using fun Halloween or seasonal molds.
DIY Pumpkin Cookies
If you have a dog that loves the crunch of a good cookie, give these crunchy biscuits from Food With Feeling a try.
1/2 cup of pureed pumpkin (canned or fresh)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil, softened
4 tablespoons of water, plus more if needed
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix the pumpkin, softened coconut oil, and water together in a large bowl.
Mix in the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.
Add the egg.
Mix until it’s well combined. Add water if needed to make sure the dough combines into a sticky ball.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.
Use a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass to cut out treats.
Place prepared dough treats on a lined/greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until the dough has hardened.
If you have an older dog with fewer teeth or a dog with a sensitive mouth, you can remove these treats from the oven before they harden. Be sure to refrigerate them if you want to keep them soft.
While we don’t recommend feeding pumpkin spice to your dog, these recipes are a great way to get them in the festive, fall spirit! Let us know in the comments if you try them out!