During warmer summer days, watermelon is one of the most popular treats in the United States and is a common fruit served up in backyard BBQs and picnics. It’s a sweet, juicy fruit comprising of 92% water (giving it top status on fruits with high water content) and has a nutrient density few fruits have. While it’s a preferred choice for people, it’s also a healthy and hydrating dog treat!
As packed with nutrients and moisture as the watermelon is, there are some things to consider when offering a bite to your pooch. So let’s take a closer look at the benefits and precautions of feeding watermelon as a treat for your dog.
What are the health benefits of watermelon for my dog?
Watermelon is rich in antioxidants, potassium, vitamins C, B6, and A. It’s also packed with Lycopene and high fiber. In fact, the Watermelon Promotions Board, a department of the USDA, considers watermelon a superfood. Even though it’s 92% water, besides being a superb choice for hydration on a scorching day, the high nutritional value of watermelon makes it one of the best choices as a healthy snack for both you and your dog.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the health benefits of watermelon:
- Moisture: A high moisture percentage (94%) helps with hydration, an important consideration in hot weather.
- Antioxidants: Repairs cells damaged from environmental stresses put on our bodies and that of our dogs. Think of them as the oxidation soldiers seeking damaged cells and saving them from decay that breaks down our dogs’ bodies as they age.
- Lycopene: It’s what contributes to the beautiful red in watermelon and tomatoes. It’s also beneficial for cancer prevention and supporting vision in dogs. Research has also suggested it slows the rate of cancer growth.
- Potassium: Supports healthy kidney and heart function, promotes healthy bone density, regulates the fluid levels, and helps muscle development.
- Vitamin C: Another powerful antioxidant, boosts the immune system, and reduces inflammation.
- Fiber: Keeps food moving through the intestinal tract to avoid constipation, help resolve diarrhea, and avoid blockages.
- Vitamin A: Supports proper function and quality of skin, coat, muscles, and nerves.
- Vitamin B6: A critical coenzyme for brain and body functions regulating fluid balance, building proteins, regulating hormones, and supporting neurotransmitters in your dog’s body.
Are there any parts of a watermelon my dog CAN’T eat?
Watermelon is a tasty, moisture-laden fruit your dog will gobble up on hot days, but not all is as it seems with the watermelon. There are precautions you must take when offering this treat.
Watermelon seeds (the mature ones) aren’t safe for your dog. A couple of seeds accidentally swallowed will probably not cause harm, but if you let your dog munch away on a watermelon slice, they can ingest too many seeds. If that’s the case, the hard seeds may not slide through the dog’s digestive system causing an intestinal blockage. This is especially true for small dogs who have much smaller intestines than larger dogs. So removing the seeds and offering small chunks is the best way for your dog to enjoy this juicy fruit.
Is seedless watermelon the safest option? Yes!
Seedless watermelon is the best choice for your dog. The seeds are not mature enough or in high volume to bind up in the digestive tract. You’ll still want to be mindful of the seed content in the fruit, but it’s a far better option if your dog loves watermelon.
Can my dog eat watermelon rind?
The rind is another part of the watermelon that isn’t safe for your dog. While they can nibble on the light green part of the rind, the rind itself is too tough for your dog. Their digestive system can’t break it down effectively and it can cause an intestinal blockage just like the seeds can.
It’s best to remove the rind and the seeds before you offer the fruit to your dog.
Can my dog eat too much watermelon?
Too much of anything can cause problems, and watermelon is the same.
It should be noted that 90% of any dog’s diet should be their regular nutritionally balanced dog food. Treats and watermelon would be an occasional treat, and should only be 10% of your dog’s diet to avoid obesity or diabetes.
Too much watermelon can cause a tummy upset, constipation, or diarrhea for your dog. And smaller dogs should have much less as a snack than a larger dog.
What about the sugar in watermelon?
Watermelon has sugar, but the high amount of fiber acts as insulation for the sugar, letting it release into the bloodstream slower than the sugar in fruits. However, if your dog has diabetes, watermelon shouldn’t be offered until your vet has advised you about serving sizes and your dog’s diet needs.
What are some creative ways to offer watermelon to my dog?
- By the chunk: Cut the watermelon into chunks, removing the seeds and rind, then offer the fresh fruit to your dog.
- Frozen: Freeze chunks (seeds and rind removed) for a cold treat on a summery day.
- Pureed: Puree the fruit (seeds and rind removed) and put it into ice cube trays to freeze and offer as a snack.
- Doggie Ice Cream: Puree watermelon and some other dog-safe fruits like blueberries, bananas, or pineapple along with yogurt or peanut butter and freeze in ice cube trays for a novel treat. Or try serving them as a smoothie!
- Dehydrated: Dehydrate the fruit (minus seeds and rind) for a chewy treat. This will eliminate the hydrating properties of the fruit, but your dog will still enjoy it.
Can your dog eat watermelon? Yep, it’s a healthy treat choice!
Yes, watermelon is one of the best fruit choices as a treat for your dog. It’s high moisture and fiber content, along with densely packed nutrients, place it in the superfood category. Prepared properly, it’s a quick, nutritious, and hydrating treat when the sun beats high in the sky and your dog needs some additional fluids or a tasty snack. But keep in mind too much watermelon can create an upset stomach if your dog gorges on it.
With so many inventive ways to offer watermelon to your dog, it’s hard to ignore watermelon as a healthy addition to your doggie snack menu!