A hot, sunny day, a laze in the yard, a picnic in the park – and a thirst-quenching slice of chilled watermelon to share with your dog. What could be nicer? But can dogs eat watermelon safely? Or should we take just a little care before we share?
There are plenty of other canine-safe fruits. Some of the most popular include peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. If you are a watermelon fan, the good news is that this tasty fruit can be included as one of the safer options for canine consumption.
But, that’s not without a few important facts. Watermelon rinds should be avoided, as should the seeds. In the article below, we take a look at how we know this fruit is safe, and when it’s time to call the vet if your dog ate some rinds and shouldn’t have.
Is Watermelon Safe For Dogs?
The simple answer is yes, a small slice of watermelon flesh, seedless or minus the seeds and minus the rind, is a safe, refreshing treat that’s low in calories, nicely hydrating, and with some beneficial qualities to boot!
Too many of life’s edible treats deserve their “naughty but nice” tag, but here’s one which is positively virtuous for you and the pooch, as long as it’s fed in the right way.
How Do We Know it’s Safe?
We can turn to the Food Data Central for the small print, as the nutritional content of watermelon is well-established. If a first-class recommendation is better, the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine Vet School includes it in their Treats Guidelines for dogs, informing us that half a cup of diced watermelon contains just 23 calories (kcal).
Watermelon is rich in vitamins, containing Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin B6. Vitamin A is needed for healthy skin, coat, muscles, and sight, night vision in particular. Remember being told to eat your carrots so you can see in the dark?
Vitamin B6 is a vital contributor to many body functions, to red blood cells and the nervous and immune systems. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that aids healing, reduces inflammation, and wards off aging changes.
While we are on the subject, this fruit is a source of another powerful antioxidant called lycopene. That’s what is responsible for the pink color of the melon. Tomatoes, guava, and pink grapefruit also contain it, and it is thought to reduce the possibility of some cancers, both in dogs and in their pet parents, also.
The fruit flesh is high in sugar, but because it has high fiber content, the sugar is only slowly absorbed and doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Rich in potassium, with no sodium and fat-free to boot, that flesh is almost too good to be true!
As we know to our benefit, watermelon – and the clue is in the name – is one of nature’s own, most portable water bottles. The pink flesh is mainly water (a whopping 92%, on average). This makes it a lovely treat in warm weather and after a walk.
Could watermelon be bad for dogs? Well, yes it could. If we move away from sharing a scooped-out and seedless chunk of the flesh alone, there could be trouble ahead. Let’s err on the safe side and look out for things to avoid.
If you leave your pup to chomp on as much watermelon as he wants, the sudden intake of fluid, sugar, and fiber could cause a gastrointestinal (gut) upset. This might cause your pup to vomit. But, it’s much more likely that he’d show signs of gut overload with an unwanted bout of diarrhea.
While the rind isn’t toxic, it’s tough. Much tougher than the flesh and relatively indigestible, feeding this to your canine companion or, worse still, letting him rip off a chunk himself, could cause agitation.
If it gets stuck as it is swallowed the rind could cause choking; if it gets stuck further down, the resultant blockage (bowel obstruction) could mean a very sick pet. And yes, it might pass through unaided, but it’s better to be safe, so discard that rind. See the FAQs section for what to look out for if Fido ate some rinds despite your best intentions.
Check that your watermelon is fresh before sharing. A soft or soggy rind, patches of discoloration, or blackish patches on the flesh inside are all signs that the fruit is no longer in its prime.
Rotting fruit of any kind, moldy bread, cheese, nuts, and all kinds of decomposing food can be seriously toxic to dogs. Keep such foods safely out of reach in locked containers. Call your veterinarian urgently if you discover your canine companion has gotten into a trash can or compost pile.
Watermelon Seeds And Dogs
No doubt, many a dog has eaten many a watermelon seed and felt no ill effects at all. Nevertheless, many authorities, the American Kennel Club among them, caution against them doing so in case those seeds cause an obstruction.
Although the research on giving watermelon seeds to dogs is limited and a few seeds are unlikely to harm, a lot at once might cause a blockage. Why run the risk? Better to take care of and remove those seeds, most especially in small breeds. See our FAQs for when to seek help from your veterinarian if your furry friend has eaten seeds.
Can I Feed Watermelon To My Dog?
Yes, in general, you can feed watermelon to your dog. The flesh of the fruit is fine as an occasional treat or even as a regular snack. Here are a few reminders of how to do it safely:
- Discard the rind, and don’t allow your pup to eat it.
- Offer the pink flesh of fresh, ripe fruit.
- Unripe watermelon isn’t dangerous (but it doesn’t taste as good).
- The seedless variety is best.
- If you pick fruit with seeds, remove the seeds before consumption.
- Be sensible with the total amount you give in one go
Frequently Asked Questions
Can watermelon make dogs sick?
The flesh, as long as it is fresh, is very unlikely to make a dog sick. On the other hand, eating moldy fruit or gorging on a large quantity could make a dog sick, as could eating chunks of the indigestible rind or a large number of seeds. If your dog has recently eaten watermelon and seems unwell, seek advice from your veterinarian’s office.
Does watermelon have any vitamins or antioxidants?
There’s a health-boosting bunch of vitamins in watermelon. Though Vitamins A, C, and B6 are the ones most quoted, there are also lower levels of other B Vitamins: thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin. The high water content of the flesh does limit the quantities of vitamins you’ll receive unless you eat an awful lot of watermelon. We don’t recommend that your dog does that!
My dog ate watermelon rind. What should I do?
Though watermelon rind might pass through uneventfully, it could cause problems. First up, if your dog is choking having just gotten hold of a chunk of the rind, you need to act quickly.
If you feel safe assisting with some doggy choking first aid yourself, pull up a good quality guide to follow quickly but carefully. Call your veterinarian (or have someone do so for you) if you dare not or cannot help your dog.
If the rind has been swallowed, note the time and make the best estimate that you can of the size of the piece(s) that have gone down. Call your vet for advice. Unless the piece was very large, they’ll likely ask you to monitor your dog carefully.
Watch for vomiting, signs of discomfort, or anything out of the ordinary. A piece of rind sticking in the gullet might cause some drooling or gulping and a generally dejected or restless dog.
If all seems well initially, keep watching and don’t feed anything else for 6 hours. Go carefully with the size of the first few meals.
What should I do if my dog ate watermelon seeds?
In most cases, a small number of seeds will not harm your dog. Only if you have a small breed dog and/or a large number of seeds that have been swallowed, might an obstruction be a possibility.
As a general guide, note when and how many (your best guess will do) seeds are thought to have disappeared and monitor your pet for the next 24-48 hours. You are looking for any signs which suggest a blockage. These include vomiting, loss of appetite, looking dejected, a hunched-up appearance, or the so-called “praying” pose, with his rump in the air while the front end lies down.
Does watermelon hydrate dogs?
Over any day – and especially after exercise and on hot days – your dog will need access to the obligatory bowl of fresh water to meet his hydration needs. Still, at over 90% water, watermelon flesh is a tasty and portable snack to aid hydration. For a gold star pet parent award, try making watermelon ice cubes by freezing pureed watermelon.
Watermelon is a safe and tasty treat for dogs. To be on the safe side, remove the seeds, and the hard rind. Also, don’t feed them too much at once. Not all dogs will like it. So if your dog turns his nose up, there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables that are perfectly safe to feed your pup.