Can I Give My Dog Watermelon?
It can often be quite a feat to convince small children to eat produce, but there are a few fruits that capture our children’s interest quite easily. Some of these fruits include apples, bananas, grapes, and strawberries. But few fruits are as universally loved as the humble watermelon, which captures both our imaginations and our taste buds. In addition to serving as a symbol of all things summery and sweet, watermelon is low in calories, easy to digest, and full of water and vitamins that keep all of us—from kindergarten all the way into old age—healthy and happy. When we put together appetizers for parties, watermelon chunks are always a safe and delicious option.
But what about when we put together our dogs’ diets? Can dogs have watermelon? Should we share this crisp, sweet treat with our canine companions, or are we stuck giving them the same boring, dry old dog treats when the weather gets hot?
Never fear: dogs can eat watermelon! In fact, watermelon is one of the best ‘people foods’ you can share with your dog. This watery fruit (which is botanically a berry—weird, right?) is not at all toxic to dogs and contains a lot of things that can actually boost their health, so feel free to share a slice with your pooch.
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Watermelon
The most immediate health benefits your dog may reap from watermelon come from two things: fiber and water, of which this fruit has a ton. Watermelon is one of the most hydrating fruits out there (by weight, it is almost 90% water!), so if the weather is hot and your dog isn’t too eager to drink as much water as they should be, try giving them a slice of this watery fruit. They will gobble it right up.
In addition to keeping your dog hydrated and alert, water works in conjunction with fiber to regulate your dog’s digestive system. How? Watermelon contains a lot of soluble fiber, which turns into a slippery, gelatinous substance when it absorbs water. This helps ‘get things moving’ through your dog’s colon, creating fuller, softer bowel movements. In addition to immediately alleviating symptoms of constipation, fiber may reduce your dog’s risk of colon cancer and other intestinal illnesses.
Watermelon may also be a great treat option for dogs who need to lose some weight. While it should not serve as the majority of your dog’s diet under any circumstances (watermelon is lacking many of the nutrients your dog needs to maintain health), it can be an excellent part of a calorie restricted diet aimed at encouraging weight loss. Fiber, which is calorie-free, takes up a lot of space in your dog’s stomach without boosting your dog’s calorie count. This means that your dog can eat a serving of low-calorie watermelon and feel fuller for longer than they would if they ate a dog treat that was lower in fiber. This means that your dog doesn’t have to feel hungry, and your vet will get to see the weight loss they recommended. Everybody wins!
But of course, watermelon is more than just fiber and water—it also contains several important micronutrients, including Vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, and of course, Vitamin C. Though dogs can produce their own Vitamin C, many dogs can benefit from eating a little bit extra of this vitamin in their diet. This is especially true for dogs who are elderly, ill, recovering from surgery, or undergoing stressful emotional situations. Vitamin C also serves as a powerful antioxidant which eliminates the free radicals known to cause cell damage, thereby lowering your dog’s chances of developing diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, some cancers, and even the common cold. Watermelon is a great option if you’re looking to give your dog’s immune system a boost!
Things to Keep in Mind
However, if you decide to incorporate watermelon into your dog’s diet, there are a few things to keep in mind. First off: to prevent your dog from suffering upset stomach or diarrhea, which often happens when dogs suddenly increase their fruit intake, start with very small portion sizes. If your dog winds up with diarrhea, you overdid it!
Secondly, to avoid choking and digestive problems, you should never feed your dog watermelon rind. While humans can generally handle eating the rind (even if it is not very tasty), it is generally understood that dogs are better off without it. Watermelon is difficult to digest, and since dogs are not renowned for chewing their food, it can cause a potentially fatal intestinal blockage. Besides, watermelon rind doesn’t even have as much nutrition as the soft pink flesh inside! Do your dog a favor and cut the flesh into bite-sized cubes before serving.
In conclusion, watermelon is a great treat option for your canine companion. It is high in fiber and water, yet low in fat and calories. Just make sure to remove the rind and divide the watermelon into easy-to-eat chunks before you feed it to Fido!