We love our dogs and if there's one thing dogs love to share with us, it's "people food!" The last thing we want to do, however, is to give our furry friends treats that aren't good for them.
We often find lists of edible substances that are toxic to dogs that mention things like chocolate, raisins, and garlic. But what about the foods that aren't on those lists? Is it possible that even those foods that aren't toxic still pose a threat?
We're going to talk about whether dogs can eat watermelon, as watermelon is one of those foods that can fall into the grey zone.
Read on to find out the risks and benefits of feeding watermelon to your dog and the best ways to share this summertime snack!
Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?
Ultimately, the answer is yes. The meat of the fruit is not toxic to dogs.
A word to the wise: don't let your dog eat watermelon unsupervised and don't give them a ton of it at once, especially if they've never had it before.
The most important thing to note is that they can digest (and even benefit from) the red and light green fruit contained inside the rind. What they shouldn't eat are the seeds and the rind, itself.
Dogs and Watermelon: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
According to the American Kennel Club, routine vet visits, alone, can cost up to $1,500 a year. This doesn't include emergency vet trips or unforeseen surgeries. A lot of emergency trips to the vet occur after your dog eats something she shouldn't, which could be anything from toxic "people food" to dog treats made with yucky, unnatural ingredients.
The best way to navigate your dog's health is to stay informed about what makes a balanced doggy diet. Despite popular beliefs, dogs are actually omnivores, not carnivores, and throwing a mix of fresh fruit and veggies into their daily intake is highly beneficial! Now, let's talk about watermelon and how to safely feed it to your dog.
Watermelon contains some of the vitamins that do your doggy good. Watermelon has Vitamin A, which is good for eye, cell, and immune health. It also has B6, which keeps her coat shiny and strong, and the kind of Vitamin C that can keep allergens and sniffles at bay.
Although watermelon does contain sugar, it won't release quickly into their bloodstream. This is because the fiber in watermelon wraps around the sugar and actually slows its natural release.
Speaking of fiber, dogs need a healthy dose of fiber to maintain healthy digestion and there is some evidence that certain kinds of fiber may even promote good gut health. Watermelon doesn't make the top of the charts in terms of fiber content, but it does contain a bit, which is better than nothing!
Watermelon also contains a large amount of lycopene, a phytochemical that is found in naturally red fruits and vegetables. Lycopene acts as an antioxidant, fighting free radicals in both the human and dog system. Free radicals can damage your dog's cells and create issues in her immune system, so a little boost of lycopene is always a good thing.
Finally, watermelons, true to their name, are mostly made of water. That means that watermelon is both low in calories and hydrating, making them a good alternative to many pre-packaged treats on a hot summer day.
The parts of a watermelon that you should avoid feeding to your dog are the seeds and the rind. While they are not toxic, they are difficult to chew and digest and could pose a threat to your dog's teeth and digestive tract.
A seed or two probably won't cause much harm, but if your dog ingests too many of them at once, they may begin to clog the digestive tract, making it difficult to pass waste and causing extreme discomfort. Smaller dogs are more at risk from watermelon seeds than larger dogs, simply because they have smaller intestines.
The rind, similarly, is difficult to digest and could pose problems to your dog's digestive tract. It also tends to be very solid, and if your dog has issues with their gums or teeth, sinking into the rind could cause pain or even the cracking or loss of teeth.
If you know or suspect that your dog has consumed watermelon seeds or rinds, keep an eye on them. If they are having difficulty relieving themselves or appear lethargic, you should take them to the vet, as these could be signs of digestive problems. You should also look for signs of pain and discomfort such as a change in demeanor or a refusal to eat.
We all know there can be too much of a good thing. Even if you're careful to remove seeds and cut the fruit away from the rind before sharing pieces of watermelon with your dog, there are still ways that this sweet treat can, well, backfire.
When you're introducing new food to your dog's diet, start with small amounts. A single cube or two is plenty the first time and you shouldn't ever go above half a cup for small dogs and a full cup for big dogs, just to be on the safe side.
Look for signs that the fruit is interacting badly with your dog's stomach. Diarrhea is a telltale sign that your pup has had too much of something they don't often eat. If they get diarrhea every time you feed them watermelon, skip it and opt for something else with similar benefits, like a small slice of tomato.
Best Ways to Feed Your Dog Watermelon
If your dog has special nutritional needs, it's best to speak with your vet before introducing them to watermelon. If not, you should be alright, as long as you heed our advice and share it in moderation!
As long as you remove the rind and seeds, there's no wrong way to feed your dog watermelon. That being said, we love to get creative when we're brightening our dogs' days with "people food." Here are a few of our favorite ways to feed our dogs a refreshing summer snack!
Frozen Watermelon Chunks
As long as your dog doesn't have gum or enamel issues that create sensitivity to cold, frozen watermelon is a great option. Frozen watermelon has a malleable, chalky texture, meaning that it shouldn't crack or break your dog's teeth the way ice cubes could.
Cut your watermelon into small chunks and spread them on a freezer-safe tray. Within an hour or two, they should be flash frozen and ready to enjoy or store to savor throughout the year.
We advise sharing frozen watermelon out on the back porch or in the grass. As it thaws, it gets pretty mushy!
If you have a dehydrator, try making watermelon jerky! Of course, this takes the hydrating factor down a few notches, but watermelon jerky is a good alternative to the processed jerky treats found in pet stores.
Cut the watermelon into strips rather than cubes. Remove the seeds and dehydrate until it has a leathery feel. You can keep these pieces of watermelon jerky on hand for a few days to reward good behavior or to keep your dog entertained with a fun and healthy snack!
A Healthy Dog is a Happy Dog
At Wild Earth, our goal is to make clean protein dog food and dog treats that make it easier for you to raise a healthy pup! It just happens to be a perk for us that we get to spend some of our time talking about things like dogs and watermelon!
If you're ready to change the way you think about your dog's diet, visit our online shop to see what we have to offer. Keep checking in with us to learn more about your dog's health! Seriously, we love talking about it!