Can I Give My Dog Cantaloupe?
Though it’s not often found in kids’ lunches or on drawings of the food pyramid, cantaloupe is widely considered to be a fruit salad essential. Even self-declared fruit haters often have a soft spot for melon, and cantaloupe is one of the more popular choices. This pale orange fruit adds a juicy burst of color to any summer meal or snack. If you have ever purchased a plastic container of fruit salad, you have probably found that it contained large amounts of cantaloupe. It’s delicious, it travels fairly well, and it will keep for several days in your refrigerator. And, best of all, it’s low in calories and high in a ton of the things our doctors are constantly telling us to eat more of.
We’re perfectly happy to share fresh cantaloupe with our friends and family at summer barbecues, but what about the furriest, drooliest family member? No, not the toddler—the dog! The fact that our dog will eat just about anything doesn’t necessarily mean that they SHOULD eat anything. So, can dogs have cantaloupe?
The answer: yes, dogs can eat cantaloupe. In fact, cantaloupe is considered one of the best ‘people foods’ you can share with your canine companion. The flesh of this melon is nontoxic, nutritious, and low in calories, but also sweet enough to send that tail wagging. In moderation, cantaloupe can be an excellent addition to most dogs’ diets.
Cantaloupe is loaded with Vitamin C, beta carotene, fiber, folic acid, and potassium. This juicy melon also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals that may be able to fight disease, soothe the symptoms of existing illness, and even lengthen your dog’s lifespan.
Vitamin C is best known among humans as an immunity-booster, and this may be true for our dogs, too. Unlike humans, dogs can produce Vitamin C on their own; they do not need to get it in their diet. This does not mean, however, that there is nothing to gain from eating extra Vitamin C! Dogs who are stressed, ill, injured, old, or very physically active may not produce adequate Vitamin C. Even if your dog is producing enough to meet their minimum requirement, additional Vitamin C in the form of cantaloupe may give their immune system the boost it needs to fight off infections.
Of course, Vitamin C’s antioxidant superpowers can’t be ignored. If you have taken a stroll through a grocery store in the last ten years, you have probably seen a vast array of products screaming about their antioxidant content. So, what are antioxidants, anyway?
Antioxidants are praised as the great killers of dangerous, highly charged particles called free radicals. Free radicals are a natural byproduct of everyday metabolic processes (the processes that keep you breathing, eating, and moving), but their production may increase as a result of chronic stress, illness, injury, or exposure to environmental factors such as cleaning chemicals, pollution, and unhealthy food.
Free radicals damage the cells that they come into contact with, which results in mutations that are thought to be the eventual cause of many health problems. The problems thought to have a link to free radicals range from cognitive decline associated with aging all the way to cancer and heart disease. So, according to this theory, if your dog consumes more antioxidants, they have fewer free radicals to worry about.
Things to Keep in Mind
Cantaloupe also contains dietary fiber, which can benefit your dog’s health in moderation. Dietary fiber is linked to a decreased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. There are more immediately noticeable health benefits, too. Fiber is a great way to alleviate both constipation and diarrhea. This is because cantaloupe has two types of fiber: insoluble fiber, which can add bulk to loose or watery stools, and soluble fiber, which turns into a jelly-like substance when it absorbs water and prevents stool from becoming dry and hard.
Like all fruits, cantaloupe should only be fed to your dog in moderation. Fruit alone can’t meet all of your dog’s nutritional needs—particularly for protein, fat, and Vitamin A. In addition, eating too much fruit is likely to result in diarrhea. If your dog experiences digestive problems after consuming cantaloupe, you fed them too much!
To safely feed your dog cantaloupe, remove the peel and cut it into bite-sized chunks. Most medium-sized dogs can handle a slice or two of melon without digestive problems, but if you’re unsure, air on the side of caution. All new foods should be introduced to your dog slowly.
Overall, cantaloupe is an excellent treat option for your dog. It is naturally sweet, which will give your dog the indulgence they crave, yet low in calories, fat, and other potentially harmful substances. It is also high in antioxidants, fiber, and several important vitamins that can improve health and reduce the risk of disease over the long term.