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Feed Or Not To Feed: Can Dogs Eat Watermelon

Last Updated - December 8, 2021

If there is one thing dogs love, it's dog treats. And if there is one thing pet parents love, it's giving their dogs treats. One of the best things about being a pet owner is seeing the excitement in your dog's eyes when they get to try a new treat. On the other hand, determining whether or not a certain type of "human food" is good or bad for dogs quickly becomes a daunting task. This brings us to the question of can dogs eat watermelon?

Yes! Dogs can eat watermelon! They can enjoy fresh watermelon cubes, frozen watermelon bites, and watermelon jerky as a small healthy treat. BUT there are certain parts of the fresh watermelon to avoid feeding to your dog and some significant health risks and benefits to consider before feeding your dog watermelon.

Deciding Which Pieces to Treat

Watermelon is a great fresh fruit to help cool down your dog in the summertime. The juicy fruit is a great healthy snack, and healthy dog treat when offered in moderation.

Before feeding your dog watermelon, you should always avoid watermelon seeds and watermelon rind! The ingestion of many seeds in a watermelon, especially mature seeds, can make it difficult for your dog to swallow and/or digest and potentially cause an intestinal blockage, upset stomach, or other harm to their digestive tract. 

As for the rind, it may be too difficult for your dog to chew through properly because it is so dense and tough, and it makes it hard to digest like the seeds and could cause an intestinal or airway blockage. When feeding your dog watermelon, seedless watermelon without rind is the way to go!

watermelon dog

Health And Nutritional Benefits

Our canine companions are often mistaken as carnivores, but they are actually omnivores. This means that adding fruits and vegetables can add incredible benefits to their overall health and lifestyle, much like their owners. Every dog owner wants their pet to live as long as possible, as their time with us always seems way too short. By feeding your dog appropriately, it can help satiate and energize them and increase the longevity of their time as a part of your family.

Here are some benefits of feeding watermelon:

Antioxidants

Watermelon is full of these commonly said but often misunderstood molecules. In the simplest terms, antioxidants work to limit the damage done to the body's cells. 

Fiber

An assist in your dog's regulation of stool, hunger, and energy levels? Check. Watermelon is fiber-rich and can help keep food moving through the intestinal tract.

Lycopene

If you have never heard of lycopene, now you know what gives some fruits and vegetables (like watermelon and tomatoes) such a bright red-pigmented color. Not only does lycopene make watermelon an enticing treat, but it also has been suggested to slow the rate of cancer growth naturally and potentially assist in its prevention in canines. 

Hydration

Watermelon is just that - 94% water! Dogs are naturally-attuned to regulating their hydration levels. That being said, it is never a bad idea to offer them more water or watermelon to help keep them hydrated, especially on a hot day. 

Potassium

The addition of potassium to supplement your dog's diet can aid in the overall health of your dog's kidney and heart function. Additional benefits of potassium include promoting bone strength and overall muscle development. 

Vitamins

Rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin B6, watermelon supports a multitude of natural body functions. From Vitamin C boosts the immune system to Vitamin A proper supporting function of the skin, muscles, and fur, to regulating fluid balance and hormones with the help of Vitamin B6, watermelon is an overall health-boost in addition to a tasty sweet treat. 

Health Risks

As every dog owner knows, veterinary visits can be quite expensive - and that's just for the wellness exam, monthly flea/tick/heartworm, vaccines, bloodwork, you know the rest. These visits, along with monthly food, toy, and treat, costs really begin to add up. Sickness and emergency exams can be a significant additional financial cost for pet owners, not to mention the emotional toll that it can take. While it is important to be aware of the health benefits of feeding your dog watermelon, it is essential to know about any potential health risks that may come along with it. 

Keep the following in mind when treating your dog with tasty watermelon treats: 

  • When introducing new food to your dog's diet, even a treat, always begin with a small amount at a time. Introducing too much new food at once can cause intestinal discomfort and diarrhea. As a rule of thumb, always keep 90% of his/her normal diet a nutritionally-balanced food approved by your veterinarian, with 10% being additional safe treats. 
  • As previously mentioned, avoid feeding watermelon with seeds and the rind, as both of these can cause significant intestinal trauma and potential blockage of the airway or the bowels. 
  • Because watermelon is high in natural sugar, feeding a large amount should be avoided in dogs with diabetes or who have difficulty regulating their blood sugar naturally. 
  • You can freeze watermelon cubes or dehydrate watermelon strips, but make sure your dog's teeth are healthy enough to chew frozen food. 

 Accident happens. Be on the lookout for signs of intestinal blockage for at least 24 hours after your dog eats the rind or seeds. A visit to the veterinarian may be necessary to avoid serious complications. 

How Much Watermelon Should You Feed Your Dog

While watermelon is a great treat to give your dog on hot summer days, as it is 92% water, it shouldn't be a large part of your dog's diet. Your dog's diet should consist of 90% of nutritionally balanced dog food.

Watermelon jerky, on the other hand, is dehydrated watermelon. Watermelon jerky is a good alternative to processed jerky pet food. While they are healthier alternatives, they should be given moderate amounts

Many dogs have different dietary needs, and some may have a medical condition that may not be suitable for consuming watermelon. If you are unsure how much to feed your dog, it's always best to check with your vet for the appropriate amount of watermelon that you should give to your dog.

Can A Dog Eat Too Much Watermelon

Yes! Too much of anything can cause a problem, and watermelon is the same. Too much watermelon can cause your dog problems like tummy upset, constipation, or diarrhea. Not to mention, watermelon has a high level of vitamin A, B6, and C, and overfeeding your dog this juicy fruit can cause vitamin imbalance.

Does Watermelon Have Too Much Sugar For Dogs?

Watermelon does contain high natural sugar, but it also has high fiber. Avoid feeding your dog watermelon if your dog is diabetic. Otherwise, feed your dog watermelon in moderation to avoid consuming too much sugar in one serving.

Best Way To Feed Your Dog Watermelon

You can feed your watermelon as fresh chunks, frozen bites, or dehydrated strips. As long as you remove the rind and seeds, there is no wrong way to feed watermelon to your dog.

dog watermelon

Watermelon: To Feed

It is suggested to consult your veterinarian, who knows your dog and any additional individual health concerns, before introducing any new treats, fruits, vegetables, or other food into your his/her diet. If okayed by your veterinarian, watermelon is an enticing way to boost your dog's immune system and provide additional nutritional value to its overall diet. Getting creative with how you offer it can also keep your dog excited to eat the same nutritional treats. Try it frozen, in chunks, dehydrated, or pureed to mix it up and keep your dog interested! 

About the Author

Lara Girsko

Doctor of veterinary medicine with extensive experience in animal welfare with a strong interest in feline medicine and plans to pursue ABVP-Feline specialty board certification. A key member of many local veterinary associations and avid reader of animal related science journals and studies.

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