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Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?

If you've enjoyed a day by the pool or at a picnic while eating watermelon, you may have seen your dog gazing with longing eyes. But before offering your pup a slice, you may have wondered, can dogs eat watermelon?

Is watermelon okay for dogs, or is it on the ever-growing list of human foods you should never feed your dog?

When it comes to watermelon, dogs can enjoy it. Watermelon is even healthy for canines when fed correctly in moderate portions. 

But, every owner should be aware of some health hazards before feeding their dog the wrong bits with the juicy pink flesh.

Can dogs eat watermelon?

Yes, dogs can eat watermelon, just not all of it. The sweet fleshy bit is a relatively healthy snack when it's balled or given to your dog in chunks without the seeds. 

But keep in mind that the seeds are indigestible and can cause intestinal blockage. Therefore, the seedless variety is best.

Also, the rind is tough and difficult to chew. A dog with indiscriminate eating, or pica, might well chew and swallow large pieces even if it doesn't taste good. 

These large chunks can become lodged in your dog's digestive tract and cause a blockage. They can also upset your dog's stomach and cause diarrhea or vomiting. 

In short, if you take the time to remove the seeds and cut off the rind, watermelon can indeed make a healthy treat if fed in moderation.

What are the benefits of eating watermelon for dogs?

Not all dogs will eat watermelon, but those that do can derive some health benefits from it. So long as they aren't eating the seeds or the rind, a bit of watermelon, relative to your dog's size, is quite good for them.

According to Nutritiondata, watermelon is low in cholesterol, saturated fats, and salt. For overweight dogs, it is also low in calories, which makes it a good choice for a treat.

One cup of raw watermelon balls (154g or 5.4 ounces) contains a mere 46.2 calories and is 92% water, which can help your pup feel full even when they haven't eaten much. 

A further benefit is that the high-water content can keep your pup hydrated on a hot day and help avoid heatstroke

Watermelon is also relatively high in potassium, with 173 mg per cup. Potassium is vital for your dog's nerve impulse control, cell signals, and muscle contraction. Too little can result in poor growth, weakness, and even paralysis. 

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, a dog's diet should contain about 1.5g of potassium for every kilogram of food or about 1g for a dog that weighs around 30 pounds.  

This means that a cup of watermelon balls can give a canine a healthy potassium dose, but not a dangerous amount.

Another plus about watermelon for dogs is that it is very high in Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid. This is often an overlooked part of a dog's diet. 

Vitamin C has shown promise as a therapeutic measure in dogs with some kinds of coronary artery disease. Even more interesting, for large dog owners, Vitamin C might benefit joints since it plays a vital role in collagen production. 

One study in the 1970s tested eight litters of German Shepherds from dysplastic parents. The GSD parents were given massive vitamin C doses, and the puppies were supplemented for up to two years. No dysplasia developed in any of the puppies. 

Unfortunately, there have not been any follow-up studies to confirm whether Vitamin C is helpful for joints, but it certainly is worth noting.

Watermelon is also high in vitamins A, B6, and fiber. Vitamin A can be excellent for your dog's health, but keep in mind that it's best to stick to the recommended guidelines with Vitamin A, which is 5000 IU per kg of diet. 

So if you are feeding your dog a raw diet, take the overall amount of Vitamin A already in the diet into account before giving your dog watermelon, as too much can be toxic.

How much watermelon can a dog eat?

Assuming you are giving your dog watermelon as a treat, then abide by the rule that treats should never count for more than 10% of your dog's daily calories. By the way, treats include any fresh vegetables or fruit like apples you may be giving your dog outside of their standard kibble or meals. 

A healthy adult dog that weighs 50 pounds will eat between 1000 and 1353 calories per day, depending on how active they are and fast their metabolism is. 

This means that the maximum amount of watermelon you should feed a 50-pound dog should amount to about 100 to 130 calories of watermelon, provided you are feeding no other treats that day.

That means a 50-pound dog should eat no more than about three-quarters of a cup of balled or diced seedless watermelon per day. This amount should go down if you are giving other treats as well. 

If watermelon forms part of your dog's raw BARF diet, consult a veterinary nutritionist to avoid any deficiencies or imbalances.

Why do dogs like watermelon so much?

Not all dogs like watermelon, but those that do often seem to love it.

In general, they like it for the same reason we do, because it is sweet, high in sugar, and tastes delicious. Another reason that they may like it is that they see us eating it. 

As pack animals, dogs are curious about anything another pack member may be eating. This is why dogs will often try to eat from each other's bowls or steal food from each other even if you gave them the same snack. 

Likewise, dogs view their humans as very important pack members. 

As such, they tend to want anything we are eating as potential food for them too. If it's good enough for you, they reckon it must be great for them!

What are some risks from eating watermelon for dogs?

Unlike us, dogs' digestive systems are not made to eat large quantities of fruit, so watermelon may come with some risks. 

The seeds can get stuck in their intestines, and the rind can cause gastrointestinal upset, but too much of the fruit can also be a problem. 

In high doses, the very things that make watermelon healthy for your dog can also make them sick, from giving them gas to vomiting and diarrhea. 

For instance, while the fiber in watermelon insulates the sugar and prevents it from being released too quickly into their bloodstream, too much fiber can interfere with the absorption of nutrients and cause stomach upsets. 

Likewise, the high sugar content can still be difficult for your dog to digest. Some of the nutrients, such as Vitamin A, can cause a range of health problems when fed in excess, including dehydration, joint pain, or even artery degeneration.

What's the best way to feed your dog watermelon?

The simplest way to feed your dog watermelon is to cube or ball the flesh, pick out the seeds and give it to them fresh. But if your pup is a huge melon can try some of these tasty watermelon dog treats.

Watermelon Jerky

You can turn your watermelon or other melon, such as cantaloupe, into a fun dog chew by dehydrating strips of flesh. 

Simply cut the melon into strips and leave it in a dehydrator for around eight hours at 135 degrees. Note some sources say it can take as long as 18 - 24 hours to properly dry out watermelon. An oven can work too but will mean using more electricity.

Watermelon popsicles

This is an excellent choice for hot days or teething puppies since the cold should soothe their gums. Simply blend the watermelon with goat's milk or yogurt and freeze in popsicle molds or an ice tray. 

Watermelon Slushies

Another great treat on a hot day that will cool your pup down is to make your puppy a slushie. Simply freeze chunks of seedless watermelon, along with other fruit your dog might enjoy, like blackberries, and pulse it in a blender with some yogurt, coconut milk, or goat's milk.

What fruit is bad for dogs?

Not all fruit is as good for your dog as watermelon. The fruit you should never feed your dog includes:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Any pips, seeds, or stones from fruit
  • Avocado
  • Unripe tomatoes (or any other part of the tomato plant)
  • Nuts

Other foods to avoid at all costs are:

  • Nutmeg
  • Onions, chives, leeks, or garlic
  • Xylitol
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol

Conclusion

Watermelon is a fun, healthy treat for dogs, so long as it is fed in moderation and you take care to remove any seeds or rind. Too much watermelon can cause digestive upset. 

However, if fed properly, it can give your dog a good boost of vitamins and minerals. 

It's also a fun way to keep your dog fresh and hydrated and can be used for a variety of treats.

Be aware of any allergies or sensitivities your dog may have to any kind of human food, and consult your vet if you are unsure. 


References

Bovsun, Mara. “Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?” American Kennel Club, 10 June 2019, www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-watermelon/#:%7E:text=But%20is%20it%20safe%20for,it%20can%20cause%20gastrointestinal%20upset.

COMMITTEE ON NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS OF DOGS AND CATS. Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs: A Science-Based Guide For Pet Owners. Washington, National Academy of Sciences, 2006.

Dzanis, David A. “The Association of American Feed Control Officials Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles: Substantiation of Nutritional Adequacy of Complete and Balanced Pet Foods in the United States.” The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 124, no. suppl_12, 2014, pp. 2535S-2539S. Crossref, doi:10.1093/jn/124.suppl_12.2535s.

Richardson, Daniel C. “The Role of Nutrition in Canine Hip Dysplasia.” Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, vol. 22, no. 3, 1992, pp. 529–40. Crossref, doi:10.1016/s0195-5616(92)50053-5.

Rodemeister, Sandra, and Hans K. Biesalski. “There’s Life in the Old Dog yet: Vitamin C as a Therapeutic Option in Endothelial Dysfunction.” Critical Care, vol. 18, no. 4, 2014. Crossref, doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0461-9.

VCA Corporate. “Hypokalemia (Low Potassium Levels) in Dogs.” Vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/hypokalemia-low-potassium-levels-in-dogs#:%7E:text=However%2C%20if%20severe%20hypokalemia%20develops,drunk%22%20because%20of%20their%20weakness. Accessed 1 Apr. 2021.

“Why Fiber Is Important for Your Dog's Health.” Hill’s Pet Nutrition, uploaded by Colgate, 4 June 2020, www.hillspet.com/dog-care/nutrition-feeding/benefits-of-fiber-for-dogs#:%7E:text=It’s%20important%20to%20understand%20that,Diarrhea.