Watermelon is a favorite summer treat for us humans, but can dogs eat watermelon? The short answer is yes, you and your dog can enjoy watermelon together as a healthy snack. In fact, most dogs love watermelon because of its sweet flavor.
And even though your dog will think it's a treat, watermelon has amazing health benefits for your pet. This fruit contains beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that are important for dogs and humans alike. And on a hot day, watermelon can be a hydrating snack for your dog.
We’ll walk you through how to safely feed watermelon to your dog so they can gain all the health benefits of this tasty treat.
How Can Dogs Eat Watermelon? Tips for Prepping This Fruit
While it’s generally safe to feed your dog watermelon — as well as other melons like cantaloupe and honeydew — there are a few things you can do to ensure your pet gets all the health benefits of watermelon without risking any issues. So, how can dogs eat watermelon? You just need to do a little bit of prep.
Remove the Rind and Seeds
Make sure to avoid feeding your dog the watermelon rind. While non-toxic, watermelon rind is a choking hazard. Its texture is also difficult for your dog’s digestive system to break down. This means that if a dog were to eat watermelon rind, it could cause gastrointestinal upset or lead to an intestinal blockage in your dog’s digestive tract.
You should also remove as many of the watermelon seeds as you can — this includes both the black seeds in classic watermelon and the small white seeds in seedless watermelon. Too many seeds can also lead to an upset stomach or an intestinal blockage.
An intestinal blockage requires veterinary care. If your dog swallows any large item — a toy, a rock, a watermelon rind, anything they can't safely pass on their own — it can be life-threatening. Signs of an intestinal blockage include lethargy, excessive panting, and abdominal pain (you may notice your pet shying away from belly rubs).
Cut It Into Small Bites
Avoid the danger of an intestinal blockage by feeding your dog only the part of the fruit that you would eat — the pink flesh. Use a melon baller or cut the watermelon into bite-sized pieces for easy feeding.
Make sure to feed an appropriate amount of watermelon based on your dog's size. If you have a small dog, don’t feed them an entire slice of watermelon. You can feed larger pieces to larger dogs and smaller pieces to smaller dogs, but keep in mind that any pet can get an upset stomach if they eat large quantities of unfamiliar food.
When you first introduce watermelon, err on the side of caution by feeding your dog small quantities (only a bite or two). And whenever you introduce a new food into your dog's diet, consider supporting their digestive system with a pet probiotic.
Avoid Store-Bought Juice
You should also avoid giving your dog store-bought watermelon juice. Not only is juice a more concentrated source of sugar (and therefore, calories) than whole fruits. Store-bought juice can also contain a variety of additives and sweeteners that dogs can't digest. Many fruit juice blends also contain grape juice — grapes are extremely bad for dogs and can lead to a toxic reaction.
What Are the Health Benefits of Watermelon?
Watermelon is roughly 92 percent water and 7.5 percent carbohydrates. Plus, it's low calorie and cholesterol-free, making it a healthy human food that's also good for dogs.
Since watermelon has such high water content, it’s great for hydration and has the potential to help alleviate constipation. Unlike pumpkin for dogs, which helps combat constipation with its high fiber content, watermelon is low in fiber — its high water content helps provide relief.
Watermelon is also a great source of amino acids, vitamins, and antioxidants that can give the immune system a boost. Some of the nutrients your dog can get from eating watermelon include L-citrulline, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and lycopene. Below is an overview of these vitamins and how they benefit your dog.
L-Citrulline is an amino acid found in watermelon that, according to scientific studies, can help reduce muscle soreness in human athletes. While there are no official canine studies on L-citrulline, an athletic dog may still benefit from a healthy snack of watermelon after a long run.
Vitamin A, which is present in watermelon, comes from its precursor, beta carotene. Beta carotene gets converted to Vitamin A in the body, although dogs can't convert all of the beta carotene from plant foods into Vitamin A.
This isn't a bad thing, though — whatever isn't converted into Vitamin A stays in the body as beta carotene, which gives your dog a boost of antioxidants and bolsters the immune system. Beta carotene has significant antioxidant properties that can help protect your dog’s body from free radical damage.
Vitamin B6 plays a role in your dog’s carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism. This vitamin is spread throughout your dog’s tissues to maintain overall cell response, and it even plays a role in brain function. Your dog will get a nice boost of Vitamin B6 when eating watermelon.
Watermelon contains a high amount of Vitamin C. Vitamin C isn't technically a dietary requirement for dogs, but it can be extremely beneficial for their overall health and is especially helpful for dogs with certain health conditions.
Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that also plays a role in protecting your dog from free radical damage. According to scientific research, Vitamin C can inhibit the spread of carcinogens in a dog’s body while aiding in controlling adrenal gland function.
Lycopene is one of the most beneficial nutrients in watermelon. This phytonutrient is an antioxidant that works to prevent cellular damage throughout the body. According to research, Lycopene can be very beneficial to canines with cancer and even cardiovascular diseases. Watermelon contains an abundant amount of lycopene.
Feed Watermelon as a Healthy Treat
So, can dogs eat watermelon? Yes, watermelon, along with the other fruits dogs can eat, is a natural source of vitamins a lot of dogs can benefit from. But, any time you introduce your dog to a new food, you should do so slowly and in small amounts so you don’t upset your dog’s digestive system. You can help support your dog's digestive tract by adding healthy pet supplements made with whole food and organic ingredients.
You can incorporate watermelon into your dog’s diet by feeding it as a treat or adding it to their dog food. But, our favorite way to feed watermelon to our dogs is by making fun dog treats for a hot summer day. Check out this recipe for watermelon treats that we made by blending fresh watermelon with bone broth and freezing it in paw-shaped ice cube trays.
Check out the Native Pet blog for more dog treat recipes and trusted health tips for your pet.