Is Watermelon Safe or Bad for Dogs to Eat?

White Labrador Retriever eating a slice of watermelon

We all know how hard it can be to ignore those pleading puppy dog eyes from your four-legged friend when they want a share of whatever you're eating.

While we may think nothing of handing over a chunk of meat from a sandwich, most dog owners know that their furry friends shouldn't eat all human food and will hold off from sharing sugary snacks or chocolate. But what about fruit? What about watermelon? 

You'll be happy to know that most dogs can eat a small slice of watermelon, as long as you follow some precautionary guidelines and make sure you only feed in moderation.

Whenever you offer a dog any new food, it is important to introduce it slowly, a little at a time, and observe them carefully. If your dog starts experiencing tummy issues, don’t feed them watermelon anymore. Feeding a little watermelon as a tasty snack is safe for most dogs, and can offer some nutritional benefits as well as being refreshing and palatable.

However, you need to remember that snacks like this should only make up a maximum of 10% of a dog's overall diet. The bulk of their calorie intake needs to come from their regular food. 

How Do I Feed My Dog Watermelon? 

Firstly, you need to remove the seeds and the rind. Neither of these is toxic to dogs; if a few seeds slip through, your dog won't be in danger. Nonetheless, eating too many seeds can cause a blockage in your dog's intestine, which they might not be able to pass on their own.

It could lead to severe problems or even surgery. The smaller the dog, the higher the risk as it will take fewer seeds to cause the same blockage. The same is true for the rind of the watermelon, as your dog might not chew it thoroughly enough to allow it to break down. 

To feed your dog watermelon, make sure to offer small pieces cut into bite-size chunks or 1-inch wedges to make it easy for your pooch to chew. Moderation is crucial when feeding a dog fruit, and smaller dogs will not be able to consume as much as their larger companions. Too much fruit can be challenging to digest and can lead to problems such as bloating or diarrhea.

As a general rule of thumb, a medium-sized dog should not consume more than one slice of melon. Watch your dog carefully if they have never eaten watermelon before: in rare cases, some dogs can have an allergic reaction that might require rapid veterinary attention.

It is always a good idea to discuss with your vet before introducing any new food or snacks, including fruit, to your dog's diet. 

Health Benefits of Watermelon 

Not only is watermelon a tasty alternative treat for your dog, but it also has plenty of nutritional benefits. Made up of 92% water, as you can guess from its name, watermelon is a great way to help your pup stay hydrated in hot weather.

It also has plenty of vitamin A which can be useful for your dog's eyesight as well as vitamins B-6 and C. The potassium in watermelon can also be helpful for your dog as it is important in maintaining a healthy heart and kidney function. Watermelons also contain naturally occurring antioxidants that can help your pup's immune system or even prevent cancer. 

Importantly, watermelon doesn't contain any of the less beneficial ingredients included in other types of snacks, including shop-bought dog snacks. It has no cholesterol, no unhealthy additives, and no extra sugar. Of course, there is natural sugar in watermelon, as in most fruits.

It also has a high fiber content that binds to the sugar and takes longer to break down, so the sugar is released slowly without any unhealthy spikes. Watermelon could make a tasty snack for a dog at risk of developing diabetes for this reason. 

When is watermelon bad for my dog

Diarrhea is always a risk if your dog has overeaten watermelon or if they are not used to eating fruit. Again, moderation is the key here: introduce new snacks very slowly and wait to see how they react before offering more.

Always avoid giving the rind of the watermelon to your dog. The rind is difficult for a dog to chew and digest properly and will likely cause your dog to have an upset stomach. It can also present a serious choking hazard as well as risk causing a blockage, like too many seeds.

If a dog has eaten watermelon rind, an intestinal blockage might not be immediately apparent. Observe your dog over the next 24 to 36 hours and watch out for vomiting, constipation, or signs he might be in pain. Urgent veterinary treatment might be needed. 

Home-Made Watermelon Treats 

If it turns out your dog particularly likes watermelon, you can use it to make some extra healthy treats. Raw watermelon is excellent for its hydrating qualities, but you can freeze chunks to make it extra refreshing or mix blended watermelon with a little yogurt or coconut milk for a tasty alternative. Choose natural, low-fat yogurts and avoid any with additives or artificial sweeteners, which can be dangerous to dogs.

Dried watermelon can also be delicious. It can be prepared in an oven or with a dehydrator to create a sort of jerky, although removing the water content also takes away the hydration benefits of feeding watermelon. Be careful when offering dairy products such as yogurt, as some dogs might have an underlying intolerance to dairy foods. 

What Other Fruits Can Dogs Eat? 

There are several other fruits that you can feed your dog for a healthy treat such as:

  • apples
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • cantaloupe
  • mango 

Remember to remove the peel, seeds, stems or pits as these could be dangerous and can lead to choking. Apple cores are not advisable. 

Summary

Not all fruits are safe for your dog, and you should avoid feeding grapes, raisins, tomatoes, cherries, and most citrus fruits. Some of these can be toxic and if eaten in enough quantity, might lead to problems with the nervous system as well as issues in the digestive tract. Always check with your veterinarian before offering your dog any new food, especially if they have any other health issues. 

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