June 26, 2020

Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?

Dog Food Guide

Fact checked by Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Many people think that dogs are carnivores, but that's not really true. Unlike cats, which are true carnivores, dogs' digestive systems can handle some plant matter too. The bulk of their diet still needs to come from animal fat and protein, but they can also benefit from some fruit.

Dogs generally love snacks, and won't stop to think about how good what they're eating is for them - that part is up to you to work out. Not all fruit is safe for your dog to eat; parts of some fruits can even be toxic and harm your pet's health.

Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?

Yes, dogs can eat watermelon. It is safe as long as you take precautions and remove the seeds and rind that can cause gastrointestinal upsets and intestinal blockages. Also, stick to the recommended serving size to avoid any health problems.

Most dog experts will agree that watermelon is generally safe for your dog to eat. It is actually one of the better fruits you can give your dog; you just need to take care of a couple of things.

First, you need to remove any seeds before feeding the melon to your dog. And second, your pooch is best off eating only the flesh, without the rind. Of course, an excess of anything is bad, no matter how good the food itself is, so feeding in moderation is also a good idea.

Health Benefits: Is Watermelon Good for Dogs?

Watermelon is soft and easy to digest, so it will work well for pups and older dogs too. And most dogs absolutely love this fruit, so you can even use it as a reward for your pet's good behavior.

Watermelon fed in moderation is a great, healthy treat for your dog.

Low on Calories, High on Water 

A 100 grams of watermelon will give you just 30 calories because the fruit contains so much water. It is an excellent combination for your dog, as it means you can give a little more of the fruit without worrying about your dog gaining weight.

And the high water content is a great, healthy way to keep your dog hydrated. Whether it's after a nice, long jog, or a play session in the yard, your dog will definitely appreciate a refreshing slice of watermelon.

watermelon on wooden table

Good Source of Vitamin A

Watermelon contains a fair amount of vitamin A which your dog can benefit from in many ways. Of course, this (or any other) fruit should not replace your dog's well-balanced food from a reputable manufacturer.

But some extra vitamin A in your dog's diet will only do him some good. This vitamin helps support good vision, especially as your dog gets older and starts slowing down. Younger dogs need vitamin A for healthy growth. It also has a role to play in keeping your dog's skin healthy.

Watermelon Contains Vital Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another essential vitamin and has a significant role to play in helping your dog maintain overall health and good condition. It is a powerful antioxidant and contributes to maintaining your dog's immune system.

This vitamin is also all-important when it comes to healing wounds and helping injuries heal faster. A lack of vitamin C usually results in a weakened immune system and sluggish recovery from illnesses.

Dogs can manufacture their own vitamin C, but a little extra help will go a long way in keeping your pal in peak condition. So a bit of watermelon here and there is good for your four-legged friend.

Good Source of Copper

Another great thing about watermelon is its rich copper content. Copper is a trace mineral and is required by the body in very small amounts. But it can be found in all body tissues, especially bone and muscle.

Copper is used by the body to form collagen and helps in the absorption of iron, another crucial mineral. Copper has a role to play in the manufacture of red blood cells and helps maintain nerve cells in good condition.

Copper deficiencies are rare but can lead to serious health issues. So providing your dog with healthy, natural sources of copper is important, and watermelon can help make sure your dog is getting enough.

Health Risks: Is Watermelon Bad For Dogs?

The great news is that watermelon is not known to be toxic to dogs, so you're not risking poisoning your pet in any way. But however tempting it may be, it's still not a good idea to feed your dog too much melon at a go.

Watermelon Contains Sugar

Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can handle plant-based food too, not just animal protein and fat. But the bottom line is that a dog's digestive system simply wasn't designed to handle a lot of sugar, regardless of what form it is ingested in.

A little sugar won't hurt your dog unless he has diabetes or has other medical conditions that prevent him from consuming sugar. But even a healthy dog will suffer from too much sugar in its diet.

First, your dog is likely to suffer a digestive upset from eating too much watermelon at once. The sugar can upset the natural balance of flora in his gut, causing indigestion. It may show up as bloating or diarrhea. But this is usually mild and will not cause long-term issues.

The more serious problem is the risk of developing diabetes, heart problems, and other conditions related to consuming too much sugar. If your dog is overweight or already suffers from diabetes, your vet will likely advise you to leave watermelon out of its diet altogether.

Watermelon Seeds Can Cause Blockages

Watermelon itself is healthy and safe for most dogs, as long as it is fed in moderation. But the seeds are not a good idea. They're not toxic, so don't be too alarmed if your dog accidentally manages to swallow a few down.

But the seeds can cause your dog to choke, especially if he's on the smaller side. And dogs don't digest watermelon seeds; they simply pass them through their systems. If a large quantity of seeds is consumed, it could result in the seeds getting stuck in your dog's intestine and causing a blockage.

The Rind Can Cause GI Upsets

It's also not a good idea to feed your dog any watermelon rind. Again, in and of itself, it is not toxic. But it may carry traces of pesticides and other chemicals that can upset your dog's metabolism.

The rinds are also quite hard, and your dog won't really digest them. He'll just churn and push them through his digestive tract. And because they're large, they may upset your pet's GI tract, resulting in diarrhea or constipation.

Serving Size and How to Feed?

Even though you're not going to feed your dog any watermelon rinds, it's still a good idea to wash the watermelon thoroughly to remove any traces of chemicals and dirt. After slicing it, remove any seeds before feeding to your dog.

Don't give watermelon daily. 

A Little Goes a Long Way

How much watermelon you can give your dog at a time depends mainly on your dog's size. A Chihuahua should not get the same size portion as a Great Dane. There's no hard and fast rule, so you can just use common sense and judgment.

For a tiny pooch, a teaspoon's worth of watermelon is plenty. For a really big dog, you can give a thin slice of melon cut up into bite-size chunks to prolong your dog's enjoyment.

Don't give watermelon daily. Reserve it for hot, sweltering days, or at most give 2-3 times per week. Again, if your dog is overweight or has other health conditions, best consult your vet first.

Nutrition Facts

We've already seen that watermelon contains a fair amount of vitamin A and vitamin C. It also has vitamin B6 and some of the other vitamins in the B complex, although in smaller amounts.

Watermelon also contains all the essential minerals except sodium, although in smaller quantities. Its low-carb profile means it contains mostly water and doesn't have much fat or protein.

At the same time, it is high in sugar and low in fiber, which is why you should only feed your dog a little at a time.

Bottom line: Can Dogs Have Watermelon?

Watermelon can make a healthy, refreshing treat for your dog, especially on those hot, sweltering summer days. It's also an excellent reward for your pet after a nice, long walk or boisterous play session in the yard.

Just be sure to remove all the seeds and rind before feeding watermelon to your dog. The high sugar content also means you can't give your dog too much. And if your dog has any sugar-related health conditions like diabetes, it's best not to feed watermelon at all.

A little watermelon occasionally is good for a healthy dog, but if you're not sure about your pet, you should first consult with your vet.

Watermelon for Dogs - FAQ

Can watermelon give a dog diarrhea?

Yes, watermelon can give your dog diarrhea because of the fiber it contains. Watermelon can be a healthy treat for your dog when given in moderation. However, watermelon is a high-fiber food that can cause stomach upsets for dogs with sensitive tummies. Also, feeding the rind to your dog may cause gastrointestinal distress, which can set off diarrhea.

Vet's Comment

Watermelon is the perfect treat for both you and your pup on those hot summer days. As with anything, moderation is key as it can cause gastrointestinal upset if your pup gets too much.

Avoid giving your pup the rind or the seeds, especially if you have a small dog, as they can cause intestinal blockage. If you notice your dog vomiting, acting lethargic, or having trouble passing stool, best visit your vet.

While watermelon itself is a great treat, avoid watermelon flavored candy, ice cream, or other artificial treats. These may contain artificial sweeteners which aren't good for dogs, and can even be dangerous.

- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Leonie McKinlay

DVM

Dr. Leonie McKinlay has always had a special fondness for animals and knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Calgary and then her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. Since graduation, Dr. McKinlay has been working at the same small animal practice, caring for dogs and cats.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your dog's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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