Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?
Can dogs eat watermelon? As this is a fruit that humans enjoy so much, it’s likely something that will have crossed your mind. In this post we’ll answer the question, while also exploring what the risks and benefits of watermelons for dogs are, and how you can mitigate against any problems and ensure that you get all the benefits with minimal problems!
WHY GIVE DOGS WATERMELON?
When you’re trying to look after your dog, you will want to do everything you can to keep them happy and healthy. That means taking them for lots of long walks, it means showing them affection and playing with them, and it also means giving them the best possible diet.
So that means looking for the best possible dog food at your local store, right? It means reading the ingredients on the back and making sure that they have a good balance of vitamins and nutrients… right?
Well, yes, that’s part of it. But it will only get you so far!
You see, the bigger problem is that if you’re only giving your pup one dog food brand; they won’t be getting much variety in their diet like this. There’s only so much that a dog can get from a single product, no matter how well that product has been considered. A single dog food can never make up for the kind of varied and balanced diet a dog would have gotten in the wild.
Thus, occasionally giving your dog just a few items off your own plate can prove to be a great way to supplement their diet and make sure that they are as happy and healthy as possible.
Which brings us back to our question: can dogs eat watermelon?
The good news is that yes, dogs can indeed eat watermelon! In fact, watermelons have a lot of health benefits for dogs which makes them a very good choice. They’re also easy and fun to eat.
But there are a couple of caveats and risks to consider, so make sure you keep reading to learn what those are.
DOGS AND WATERMELONS: THE RISKS
When your dog eats watermelon, there are a few potential risks that you do need to keep in mind.
One issue is regarding the amount of sugar found in a typical watermelon. This is relatively low compared with other fruits, but it is still there. And sugar can be bad news for dogs.
The reason for this is simple: dogs are much smaller than humans! And the natural dog diet would also contain significantly less sugar as compared with the average human diet. As such, dogs don’t have the same natural ability to process and filter sugar that humans do.
When humans get too much sugar this can actually cause a host of problems. Sugar can damage nerves, which is why it hurts so much when you have sensitive teeth and you bite into something very sugary.
Likewise, sugar can also cause inflammation and actually heighten your bad LDL cholesterol.
If a dog were to find and eat a whole box of chocolates, this would be the equivalent of a human finding and eating 10, 20, or more. That in turn can be fatal to a dog’s small heart – which is why it’s important that you either take your dog to a vet to have their stomach pumped, or use a saline solution to try and encourage them to be sick and bring up all the chocolate.
Watermelon is mostly water (hence the name!) and won’t cause this same problem. However, if your dog eats too much of it, then it eventually can become a similar problem and your dog might experience some problems.
If you were to leave your dog with an entire plate of watermelon slices, then this could lead to serious health problems.
But if you’re letting your dog bite some watermelon from your slice, it’s unlikely to cause that kind of problem! A couple slices of watermelon at a time are harmless to dogs.
Be wary of giving anything more than a few slices at a time – it’s actually a similar story for humans with a whole host of fruits. If you were to eat too many bananas, apples, or any other fruit it would do you more harm than good. You always must be careful to limit your intake of any fruit. You can always have too much of a good thing!
Long Term Issues
There are also potential long-term issues with watermelon though. One is that the large sugar content can be fattening for dogs.
This is a problem that a lot of humans make when dieting. If you are trying to eat healthily in order to lose weight, then you might rightly assume that you should start limiting your intake of chocolate, cake, and other snacks.
But if you’re still eating lots of fruit – or maybe having a lot of fruit smoothies – this can actually cause the exact same problem. In terms of overall health, it’s very good for you! In terms of losing weight, it’s still calories. Calories are energy and that energy needs to be stored somewhere!
And again, dogs are smaller. So, if they’re eating lots of watermelon regularly, it will quickly go to their hips!
Weight gain is actually a serious problem for dogs. If dogs gain too much weight, then they can start to place a greater strain on their hearts and their systems as a whole. At the same time, they might start to experience more painful joints as they are forced to carry more weight around. Some breeds of dog will feel this more intensely than others due to inherent issues with body shape. For instance, Dachshunds have long spines which can sag in the middle as a dog puts on lots of weight.
If your dog starts putting on weight, then try to remove sugary sweet snacks from their diet and encourage them to get more exercise and activity! There are even a few reliable weight-loss dog foods that you may want to try.
Another long-term issue is that eating anything with sugar, including watermelon, can potentially lead to diabetes. This is because anything that spikes the blood sugar will also spike insulin. Insulin is an anabolic hormone that triggers the body to absorb the sugar out from the blood to be stored as fat, or to fuel a range of activities such as exercise.
If you keep going through this process – repeatedly spiking blood sugar and then allowing it to drop – then you eventually will find that the body stops responding in the same way. Eventually the insulin won’t be released in response to the sugar or the body will be unable to use it. It has adapted and become resistant.
And this is of course what leads to diabetes. Here, sugar builds up in the blood causing damage to the nerves and potentially leading to issues like blindness or even the loss of sensation in the limbs. This is a common and very serious issue for dogs. Luckily there are diabetic dog foods on the market, but we should always want to avoid this option when possible.
Again, you should keep your dog’s watermelon consumption in moderation!
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF WATERMELON
While this might all sound very negative and might put you off the idea of giving your dog watermelon, you shouldn’t overreact.
These precautions are important to keep in mind, but they are minor. In fact, watermelon has relatively very low sugar content and that sugar is highly diluted. Likewise, watermelon is relatively low in fiber – large amounts of which can also be bad news for dogs despite being good for humans.
In other words, this is actually one of the safest fruits for dogs. And what’s more is that they really enjoy it!
On top of all that, there are also plenty of benefits that come from giving your dog watermelon. These include…
Hydration might sound like no big deal, but it’s very important for both dogs and humans to stay hydrated. And what many people don’t realize is that both species actually get a lot of their hydration from food!
Low hydration can be life threatening to dogs. But at a lower level it can also cause headaches, constipation, indigestion, malabsorption, and a host of other issues. The body is made up of 75% water or more – so of course it’s important to get lots of it!
Watermelon is rich in antioxidants, which help the body to combat the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules in the body which can react with cell walls. When a free radical impacts with a cell, it will cause a small reaction that causes microscopic damage to that cell. This isn’t a big issue, but the problem occurs when cells are repeatedly bombarded by the free radicals.
Eventually free radicals can penetrate all the way through the cells into the nucleus houses the DNA. If the free radicals damage the DNA, this can then cause that cell to cease to function properly. What’s more, is that when the cell divides and reproduces by creating an exact copy of itself (called mitosis), this can cause the error to be repeated as well. Over time, the damage can spread, until entire organs are rendered ineffective, or tumors form. This is how cancer occurs.
Watermelon does not actually contain citrulline, but actually helps the body to absorb and use it. Citrulline is a substance used by athletes and bodybuilders to aid with recovery, and this means it can combat muscle soreness and encourage energy and activity.
More Vitamins and Minerals
Watermelon is rich in vitamin C, which strengthens the body’s immune system while also helping to improve mood (by producing more serotonin) and more.
Vitamin A helps to improve eyesight and combat macular degeneration (a common issue for dogs). Potassium helps to prevent cramping.
HOW TO FEED YOUR DOG WATERMELON
So, with that said, how do you go about giving your dog watermelon so they can enjoy the benefits?
As mentioned, the good news is that dogs really enjoy watermelon! That means that you can let your dog enjoy watermelon as easily as holding it out for them to bite. They’ll bite the watery middle, just a as a human would. And they love it!
Another tip is to remove the seeds and to hold onto the rind so they don’t eat it. Seeds can occasionally cause blockages if eaten. They’re not often dangerous, but if you can, then it is safer to remove them.
Likewise, rind can commonly lead to gastrointestinal upset – so hold on to this or remove it before giving it to your pup.
Follow these guidelines and there is no reason that your dog can’t enjoy watermelon!