Can dogs eat watermelon?

Can Dogs Eat Watermelon: 4 Benefits of Watermelon

Can dogs eat watermelon? Yes, and there are a few reasons why it makes a great, healthy snack for them. Finn has everything you need to know.

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As the warmer months roll around, we look for light, refreshing ways to treat ourselves and our precious pets. For many of us, eating a nice cool slice of watermelon when the temperatures start to rise is one of the best parts of summer. 

But can dogs eat watermelon? Yes! Here are four reasons why it’s good for them and how you can add it into their existing diet plan.

1.  Watermelon Has High Water Content

Watermelon is among the fruits with the highest water content, at anywhere between 92 - 96%. That’s a big part of what makes it such a refreshing treat in the summer and why it is so great to give dogs when the weather gets hot.

Just like us, dogs can get dehydrated if they’re not drinking enough water or if it is hot enough that they can’t keep up with their water needs. Dehydration can be a significant health concern, both acutely and chronically. 

Signs of dehydration to monitor for in your dog include:

  • Loss of skin elasticity - To check this, gently pinch the skin between your dog’s shoulder blades. If it immediately retracts back with the rest of the skin, your dog is likely not dehydrated. If it stays tented, it is a warning sign that your dog may be dehydrated.
  • Loss of appetite - A loss of appetite can also lead to further dehydration, as your dog isn’t taking in the additional water they need.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea - Besides being a sign of dehydration, these symptoms can also continue the dehydration cycle through water loss.
  • Lethargy - When dehydrated, your dog’s energy is directed toward keeping essential functions going. This means there isn’t any leftover energy they can use to be their usual, bouncy selves. 
  • Sunken eyes - Moisture gets pulled from anywhere in the body to help support their basic bodily functions when dehydrated, leading to dry, sunken eyes. 
  • Dry, sticky mucus membranes - If you’ve never checked your dog’s mucous membranes before, just lift their top lip and gently press on their upper gum line. Normal mucus membranes should be pink and moist. Mucous membranes that are dry or pale may be a sign that your dog needs to be seen by a veterinarian. 
  • Thick saliva
  • Panting

2. Watermelon Is Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that fight back against free radical damage in the body, and they can be found in all types of vitamins and minerals. They work to repair the damaged cells when free radicals (essentially, unstable molecules) travel through the body, stealing their electrons.

This damage, known as oxidative damage, can cause all sorts of problems for our dogs. This damage is especially apparent as they age, in the form of chronic inflammation and neurological issues. When you ensure that your dog is getting enough antioxidants in their diet, you give them more of what they need to guard against those issues. 

One of the antioxidants that watermelon is rich in is known as lycopene, which is also thought to help prevent and even fight cancer cells in the body.

3. Watermelon Is Full of Vitamins and Minerals

In addition to antioxidants, watermelon is also full of the vitamins and minerals crucial for dogs. These nutrients are a serious part of why, when people ask, “can dogs eat watermelons?” we answer with a resounding yes! Let’s discuss them in more detail.

  • Potassium - Potassium is usually associated with fruits like bananas, but watermelon is also rich in this electrolyte. Potassium is crucial for helping support healthy heart and kidney function, regulating the fluid balance in the body, and keeping the muscles strong. 
  • Vitamin A - Vitamin A, which can be made from beta carotene, is excellent for supporting the function and quality of your dog’s skin, coat, muscles, and vision. Vitamin A can also help to support weight loss for overweight dogs and can be found in carrots and apples as well. 
  • Vitamin B6 - B6, or pyridoxine, is a critical coenzyme that helps support the brain and other body functions. It can also help build proteins, support healthy hormone levels, and support neurotransmitters. Sweet potatoes are another significant source of vitamin B6.
  • Vitamin C - Vitamin C, which also counts as an antioxidant, is essential for boosting and supporting the immune system and reducing swelling. The vitamin is excellent at supporting the cognitive aging process, helping your dog to age gracefully mentally and physically. Apples are also full of vitamin C, but dogs should avoid other traditional sources of the vitamin, like oranges, as they can cause GI upset. 

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4. Watermelon Is Fiber-Rich

Fiber is a key component of any dog’s diet, although they often get most of it through their regular diet (as long as it’s appropriate for their age and activity level). It performs a few vital jobs in the body, and not getting enough of it can cause some significant issues with their GI system.

Fiber helps to keep digested food moving through your dog’s intestinal tract, helping reduce the risk of constipation. It can also help bulk up the stool, which can prevent and resolve softer stools and diarrhea, as well as potentially helping to reduce blockage risk. 

Feeding your dog fiber-rich snacks, like watermelon, can help to supplement their regular diet and keep their body functioning optimally. 

How Do I Give Watermelon to My Dog? 

So we’ve learned how great watermelon is for your dog on a nutritional level. But how exactly can you feed your dog watermelon, and are there any parts you should avoid giving them?

Let’s start with what parts of the watermelon you shouldn’t feed your dog. 

First of all, dogs should never ingest any mature black watermelon seeds. While a few seeds are not likely to harm your dog, too many have the potential to form an obstruction in their GI tract. 

Smaller dogs are at an increased risk of this happening due to the smaller size of their intestines. However, the tiny white seeds present in seedless watermelons do not pose the same risk and can be safely ingested by dogs of all sizes (in moderation, of course).

The rind is the second part of the watermelon that you should avoid feeding your dog. It isn’t considered toxic, but it is also not made of the type of fiber that your dog can easily digest. Like the mature seeds, watermelon rind can also be an intestinal blockage risk if consumed in larger quantities like the mature seeds. 

So how can you safely feed your dog watermelon? Either purchase seedless watermelon or de-seed it first, then remove the rind and cut it into bite-sized pieces. You don’t need to cook it or do anything else but give it to your pet!

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You can freeze cubed watermelon or puree it with other fruits and freeze it in ice cube trays if it's really hot out. If you have any dog-safe ice cream available in certain grocery stores, you can even blend that in with the fruit and make a doggie smoothie! Some people like to dehydrate watermelon slices for dogs that prefer a chewier treat, although that does negate the benefits of the fruit’s high water content. 

Is It Possible for a Dog To Eat Too Much Watermelon?

Dogs don’t have the ability to think about their diet critically as humans do, which is fairly obvious by the sheer amount of non-food items and garbage they would get into if left to their own devices. That means that it’s up to us to portion out their food and give them the right amount so that they don’t get sick or become overweight.

Watermelon is definitely a healthy option for a fresh treat for your dog, but they can get too much of a good thing. 

Primarily, this comes down to its sugar content. Sugarwise, a medium-sized wedge of watermelon contains about 17 grams. While that seems like a lot, its fiber content insulates the sugar so that it isn’t released into the bloodstream in one big rush. However, for dogs with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, any excess sugar can have seriously adverse effects. 

Sugar can also trigger diarrhea in dogs who aren’t used to watermelon, especially the first few times they eat it. Sugar can disrupt the vital balance of bacteria in the gut, throwing the entire system into disarray. Unfortunately, diarrhea can very quickly lead to dehydration, especially in smaller dogs. 

In Summary

Can dogs eat watermelon? They absolutely can, and it actually has a lot of benefits for most dogs when fed in moderation. 

As long as you take the time to remove the mature seeds and rind and only give your dog small pieces every once in a while, your dog can enjoy the added nutrition and moisture content without risking any negative side effects. For more on what you can and can’t feed your dog, stick with Finn.


Image: Normal mucous membranes, dog | Merck Veterinary Manual 

Oxidative Stress, Aging and CNS disease in the Canine Model of Human Brain Aging | PubMed 

Effects of lycopene on proliferation and death of canine osteosarcoma cells | PubMed



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