Can dogs eat watermelon?
Pet food safety advice from Trupanion, medical insurance for pets
What’s more enjoyable on a hot, summer day than sharing a cool, sweet treat? Watermelon is one of the most popular summertime treats throughout the United States, and for good reason: it’s delicious! But is it okay to share with the furry family members? Pet parents want to make sure it’s safe to give their pets any food first. So is watermelon healthy for dogs?
Yes, dogs can eat watermelon—and watermelon has health benefits for dogs, too
Watermelon gets its name from the fact that it’s mostly made of water—more than 90%, in fact. That means watermelon is a good treat to help keep your dog hydrated on a hot day. There is some evidence that watermelon is a diuretic—meaning your dog will have to pee more—but considering the sheer amount of water packed inside each bite, it’s likely a net positive.
Does watermelon have nutrients that are good for my dog?
Watermelon is a nutritious snack, with lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Watermelon actually has numerous health benefits for your dog:
- Water helps with hydration, obviously, and can be a relief from the heat.
- Antioxidants help repair cell damage.
- Lycopene has been shown to slow the rate of cancer growth as well as prevent cancer formation.
- Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that supports heart, kidneys, bones, muscles, and fluid regulation.
- Fiber is essential for proper digestion and avoiding constipation.
- Vitamin A supports skin, coat, muscle, and nerve health.
- Vitamin B6 is critical for brain health, protein development, hormones, and neurotransmitters.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation.
Is there too much sugar in watermelon for dogs?
You can tell with a taste that watermelon obviously has sugar, but the fiber in watermelon does an adequate job of slowing the rate of absorption. In moderation, watermelon shouldn’t be too sugary for your dog.
However, if your dog has diabetes, or your veterinarian has advised you to monitor their sugar intake for any reason, do not feed your dog watermelon until you speak with your vet.
Guidelines for giving watermelon to dogs
Watermelon is safe for dogs to eat, but you should still give it in moderation and monitor your dog for any signs like an upset stomach. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when feeding your dog watermelon:
- Take your dog’s size into account—small dogs should have small amounts
- Do not give your dog watermelon seeds or rind—these can cause digestive issues, including serious issues like an intestinal blockage
- Certain foods disagree with some dogs—just like with people—after you give your dog a small amount, watch for diarrhea or vomiting
Watermelon seeds are not safe for your dog—they’re not poisonous, so eating one or two watermelon seeds probably won’t hurt your dog. However, eating too many seeds might cause an intestinal blockage. Smaller dogs are more vulnerable to this than larger dogs.
Mind the rind
Watermelon rind might not be the most appetizing part of the fruit to you, but keep it away from your dog just in case they try to nibble. Swallowing pieces of the rind can lead to intestinal blockage just like too many seeds—the rind is too tough and fibrous for your dog to thoroughly digest.
Too much of a good thing
Be aware that, as with all things, moderation is key. Too much of any one treat—including watermelon—can cause upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, or even obesity and diabetes longterm.
Remember to keep treats like watermelon down to 10% or less of your dog’s diet. Make sure their regular, veterinarian-approved and nutritionally balanced dog food accounts for at least 90% of their calories.
Safe watermelon treats for dogs
Fresh watermelon is the healthiest option for your dog. You may find treats made with watermelon available in stores, but before giving your dog any watermelon treats check the ingredients carefully. Artificial sweeteners and preservatives can be dangerous for dogs—do not give your dog any treats with artificial sweeteners or preservatives. Read on for some easy recipes to make simple, safe watermelon treats for your pup!
Who doesn’t love a popsicle? These frozen treats are fun and easy to make:
- Blend 2 cups of seedless watermelon flesh with 1 cup of coconut milk or water
- Be sure to remove any seeds or rind, and double check that your coconut milk has no artificial sweeteners
- Spoon or pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze.
- Give one to your pup and try one yourself!
Alternative version: Fido Fro-Yo
Instead of using water or coconut milk, you can also use natural, low-fat or non-fat yogurt. Always check for artificial sweeteners or preservatives first, and make sure your dog can comfortably handle dairy.
If you have a dehydrator, you can turn a watermelon into chewy, tasty treats:
- Cut your seedless watermelon into slices and place in your dehydrator
- You can also use an oven at low heat, but plan ahead—that method can take up to 8 hours
- The resulting fruit jerky is obviously not as hydrating, but packs more flavor and can be a fun chewy distraction.
Keep it Simple
You can’t go wrong with bite-sized chunks! Stick them in the freezer (minus the rind and seeds!) for a few hours and use them for a little summertime training treat.
Watermelon is a healthy treat for dogs
Whichever way you decide to treat your pup with it, watermelon makes a great and healthy snack choice for dogs. Just be sure to feed in moderation, remove the seeds, and cut off the rind before serving.