What’s better than a sweet and refreshing slice of watermelon on a hot, summer day? This large juicy fruit is a staple in salads, drink recipes, and backyard barbecues. But the craze isn’t just about the delicious taste of watermelon as many people consider it a superfruit due to its nutritional benefits.
Watermelons are low in calories and filled with many vitamins and minerals that can help boost our overall health. But does this fruit have the same health benefits for our pets? In fact, is it even safe to feed watermelon to our dogs?
The short answer is yes! Watermelons are safe for our furry friends but you still need to be a little cautious about a few things like removing the seeds and rind before feeding the fruit to your dog.
In this article, we’ll help you understand how to feed watermelon to a dog safely. But before that, let’s start by discussing the various health benefits your dog can get from watermelon.
4 Wonderful Health Benefits of Watermelon For Dogs
Below are 4 amazing health benefits of watermelon for dogs:
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Watermelon is one such fruit that contains a wide array of antioxidants including vitamin C, carotenoids, and cucurbitacin. It also contains large amounts of lycopene which is a phytochemical that acts as an antioxidant.
They all work together to protect the cells against oxidation or damage caused by free radicals. This, in turn, helps prevent various health problems including arthritis, infections, respiratory diseases, autoimmune disorders, and heart diseases.
2. Provides Many Nutrients
Watermelons are chock full of various nutrients that are needed by your dog’s body to function properly.
Below are some of the essential nutrients present in watermelon:
- Vitamin A - Supports healthy vision, skin, coat, and muscles. It also helps boost the immune response in dogs.
- Vitamin C - Acts as an antioxidant that can help prevent chronic inflammation and support the immune system.
- Calcium - Plays a crucial role in building and maintaining strong bones.
- Potassium - It’s a primary electrolyte that aids in the transmission of nerve impulses from the brain to the body. It also helps support muscle growth, kidney function, and absorption of various nutrients.
- Magnesium - Supports muscle health, the immune system, and a healthy heart.
3. Keeps Them Hydrated
Watermelons are 92% water which makes them an ideal treat to beat the summer heat. You can serve chilled watermelon slices (without seeds) or frozen watermelon puree cubes after a play session or a walk. It'll help hydrate their body and provide nourishment to their organs.
But remember that feeding watermelon isn’t enough for your pup, you’ll still have to ensure they’re drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration, especially during summer.
4. Provides Fiber
Watermelon contains a small amount of fiber which is not enough to fulfill the daily requirement of your dog but it can be helpful in many other ways. Primarily, this fiber can help slow down the absorption of sugar that your dog will get from watermelon itself. As a result, it will help ensure there’s no sudden blood sugar spike in their body.
What Parts of Watermelon Are Safe for a Dog?
Watermelons are extremely nutritious but not every part of this fruit is safe for a dog. To avoid any risk, let’s briefly discuss which parts of watermelon are safe for your dog and which parts you should toss in the trash.
Red Fleshy Fruit
The bright red fleshy part of the watermelon contains all the nutrients and antioxidants that are beneficial for a dog. Thus it’s completely safe and healthy for them.
The black mature seeds in watermelon aren't toxic for our dogs but they may not slide through their digestive system causing an intestinal blockage. If your pup accidentally swallows a few seeds it shouldn't cause any harm, but make sure they don't ingest too many altogether.
So try to remove as many of these black seeds as you can before offering the watermelon to your dog.
On the other hand, the white, immature seeds in seedless watermelons are okay to feed a dog as they’re flexible and can easily pass through their digestive system.
Although watermelon rinds don't contain toxic or harmful nutrients, their texture, and toughness can be problematic. It’s mainly because your dog cannot properly chew the rind thoroughly before swallowing and the large undigested pieces can lead to gastrointestinal blockage.
Thus it’s advisable to not feed the watermelon rind to your dog.
How to Safely Feed Your Dog Watermelon
Just like any other fruit, you can simply cut and serve watermelon to your dog. But you need to be mindful of the portion sizes. You can think of watermelon as any other dog treat - something you serve occasionally in small amounts.
You can consult with your veterinarian to determine the right amount of watermelon to feed your dog or you follow the 90/10 rule. That means 90% of the calories your dog eats should come from a complete and balanced diet and the remaining 10% from treats like watermelon.
When it comes to feeding the watermelon to your dog, it’s actually quite easy as dogs tend to love the sweet taste and texture of this fruit. But to give you an idea, below are some safe and fun ways to feed watermelon to your dog:
- Cut a small slice and let your dog nibble away
- Scoop out some tiny balls of watermelon and serve in a bowl
- Freeze small chunks of the fruit and serve on a hot summer day
- If you have a puppy or a small dog you can puree the watermelon
- You can also freeze watermelon puree in an ice cube tray and serve it as a cool treat on a hot day
- If you own a dehydrator, you can make some dehydrated watermelon jerky at home
- Puree watermelon with other dog-friendly fruits like blueberries and bananas to serve as a smoothie
Make sure you remove the seeds and rind before following any of the above recipes.
Are There Any Adverse Effects of Too Much Watermelon on Your Dog?
Too much of any food item can be harmful to your dog’s health. Thus you have to be mindful of the portion sizes and serve only a small amount of watermelon occasionally. Otherwise, it could lead to an upset stomach, constipation, or diarrhea for your pup.
Apart from that, you should be cautious of a few more things, including
- The sugar content - Watermelon contains sugar, just like any fruit. If you have a healthy dog, small amounts of watermelon would be a safe and healthy treat for them. But if your dog is suffering from a prior health condition, especially diabetes, you should refrain from adding any new food item to their diet without consulting a veterinarian.
- Watermelon allergy - Although it’s very rare, your dog can still have a watermelon allergy. So if you’re feeding them watermelon for the first time, monitor their reaction for the next 24-48 hours. If you see any signs of allergic reaction like constant itchiness, vomiting, inflamed skin, and swelling on the face, ear, and lips, contact a veterinarian immediately.
- Remove the rind & seeds - As already mentioned above, make sure you remove the mature, black seeds and rind before feeding watermelon to your dog. They are hard to chew and digest and can lead to gastrointestinal blockage.
Watermelon is a safe & healthy dog treat. It’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and many essential minerals. Above all, its high water content helps keep your pup hydrated and energized on a hot summer day.
But even though your dog will love the sweet and juicy taste of this fruit, it’s important that you avoid overindulgence. Feed only a small portion of watermelon and let them enjoy this refreshing, nutrition-packed snack without any risk.
If you still have any doubts, consider consulting with a veterinarian before adding watermelon to your dog’s diet.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about feeding watermelon to a dog:
1. Can a dog eat watermelon rinds?
No, you shouldn’t feed watermelon rinds to your dog as they won’t be able to chew it thoroughly before swallowing. The large unchewed pieces can lead to gastrointestinal blockage.
2. Can a dog eat watermelon seeds?
Try to avoid feeding black mature watermelon seeds to your dog. Even though a few of these won't cause any harm if your dog ingests too many they may not slide through the digestive system causing an intestinal blockage.
On the other hand, your dog can eat the white, immature seeds in seedless watermelons as they’re flexible and can easily pass through their digestive system.
3. Can I feed watermelon juice to my dog?
Yes, your dog can drink some watermelon juice made at home without any additional ingredients or seasonings.
But avoid feeding them store-bought juice as it might contain a lot of sugar and artificial flavoring which doesn’t have the same health benefits as real watermelon. In fact, the high amount of sugar present in these juices can be extremely dangerous for your dog and can cause a toxic reaction.
4. Can a diabetic dog eat watermelon?
Just like every other fruit, watermelon contains natural sugar which can be harmful to your dog if they have diabetes or any other health condition.
Thus, it’s also advised to consult with a veterinarian before making any changes to the diet of a dog who has a pre-existing health condition.