There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a juicy slice of watermelon. But while pet owners are munching on the favorite summer fruit, they may wonder if it’s safe to offer some to their four-legged friend.
Generally speaking, the answer is yes. Not only is the sweet fruit safe for your pup, but watermelon's 92 percent water content means it’s a great way to help both you and your dog stay hydrated this summer. Better yet, watermelon is packed with vitamins and nutrients that can be beneficial for everyone’s health, whether you have two legs or four.
Health Benefits of Watermelon
The scientific name for watermelon is Citrullus lanatus. It is not only delicious, but also contains various nutrients, including vitamins A and C, and potassium. It's also a low-calorie fruit that contains no fat or cholesterol. Watermelon's high water content makes it an ideal treat to help your pet stay hydrated on those hot summer days.
Watermelon’s high vitamin A content can help improve and maintain your pooch’s eyesight. It is also rich in antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and strengthen your pooch’s immune system, which helps to ward off diseases. The fruit has also been linked to health benefits, including regulating blood pressure and improving muscle health in humans, and preventing heart disease in mice.
While the high fiber content in watermelon can cause tummy troubles in dogs (and in people), when offered in moderation, the low-calorie treat can help manage their weight and improve colon health, at least according to a study on mice. Like most fruits, seedless watermelon does contain natural sugar, but its fiber content allows it to release slowly into the bloodstream to avoid a blood sugar spike in your pet.
Potential Health Concerns
While the pink flesh of the watermelon is safe for dogs, pet owners should be aware that the seeds of a watermelon should be removed before handing it over to Rover, as they can cause an intestinal blockage. Pet owners shouldn’t panic if they accidentally miss a few small seeds, but allowing your dog to ingest too many seeds could cause a blockage in their digestive tract and lead to more serious complications.
It’s also not recommended to allow your dog to chew on the watermelon rind. The rind is difficult for your dog to chew and digest and can cause tummy issues ranging from diarrhea to serious intestinal blockages when swallowed in large pieces. It can also pose a choking hazard, particularly if you have a smaller dog. If your dog has accidentally consumed watermelon rind and shows symptoms such as vomiting, constipation, or lethargy, veterinary attention should be sought immediately.
As with all “human” foods, it’s always a good idea to check in with your veterinarian before offering watermelon to your pet, and moderation is the key—especially if you don’t know how your dog will react to the fibrous fruit. Like many fruits, including cantaloupe, watermelon can cause digestive problems such as diarrhea if your dog eats too much. Always keep your dog’s size in mind; the smaller the dog, the less watermelon it should consume. While it’s rare, it is also possible for your pet to be allergic to watermelon.
Other Ways to Feed Watermelon to Your Dog
If you discover that Fido goes crazy for watermelon, there are some other creative ways to incorporate it into the diet as a special treat. Both you and your pet can beat the summer heat with frozen watermelon treats by blending (seedless) watermelon flesh with coconut milk, yogurt, or water and then freezing them into cubes. Just be sure that you pick up either low-fat or nonfat yogurt, and be mindful of sugar (sugar substitutes such as xylitol are particularly toxic to dogs) and other additives—you'll also want to offer any of these treats in moderation because some dogs may be sensitive to dairy.
If you happen to have a food dehydrator, you can also turn the watermelon into chewy treats (although your pooch will miss out on the hydrating benefits). Or simply slice up some fresh watermelon (bite-sized pieces are best) to give your dog an extra cool treat on a hot summer day.
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