Can I give my dog watermelon

Summer fruits are some of the sweetest, and watermelon is right at there at the top. But can dogs eat watermelons as well, and is watermelon safe for dogs to consume? What are the health benefits of watermelons for dogs and are there any side effects from dogs eating watermelon? Let's take a look.

If you've been wondering, “can I give my dog watermelon,” the answer is YES – dogs can eat watermelons, and this fruit is not toxic to dogs. However, you must always remove watermelon seeds from it and only feed moderate amounts of watermelon to dogs.

Watermelon may actually have several health benefits for dogs, but this fruit is also not without its caveats. It's important to practice caution and feed watermelon to dogs in small amounts and only as an occasional treat. Here's what you must know about it.

ALSO READ: Can Dogs Eat Cherries?

What are watermelons?

A watermelon, also known as Citrullus lanatus, is a type of large water-dense fruit (92% water and 8% melon) that originated in South Africa.

Watermelon has a smooth, green striped exterior rind and a sweet, juicy pink interior. Due to its high water content, it's very refreshing and often eaten cold during warm summer months. Watermelons come in seeded and seedless varieties.

This is what a fresh watermelon looks like:

What does a watermelon look like

Watermelons provide several vitamins and nutrients. They're a great source of two powerful compounds called lycopene and citrulline. Watermelons are low in calories.

Compared to other fruits, watermelons are actually very low in antioxidants (1). On the bright side, they're a good source of a few other nutrients that many fruits don't have (2).

Watermelons for Dogs 101
Can Dogs Eat Watermelons?

So can dogs eat watermelon just as humans can? Yes, absolutely – watermelon is totally safe for dogs to consume, provided you have removed watermelon seeds and only feed it to your dog in moderation and as an occasional treat.

Not only that, but feeding watermelon to dogs can provide them with some essential nutrients and health benefits, all of which we discuss below.

While not that high in antioxidants, watermelons still pack a few good nutrients:

  • Vitamin A (beta-carotene)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B5
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Citrulline
  • Lycopene

While many of the above nutrients are yet to be studied with dogs, in humans it has been shown that citrulline in watermelons may lower blood pressure (3) and improve the health of most vital organs, including liver, kidneys and lungs (4, 5, 6).

Furthermore, watermelons are actually a better source of lycopene than tomatoes are, meaning it helps the body more effectively absorb and form Vitamin A (7, 8, 9).

Other than that, studies in humans have shown the following health benefits from consuming watermelons, all of which are associated with the above nutrients:

  • It may reduce insulin resistance (10, 11)
  • It lowers blood pressure (12, 13)
  • It may reduce muscle soreness (14)

With the above in mind, it's safe to assume that some of the benefits can also stretch to canines, and watermelons for dogs may be another healthy food addition you can make to improve your dog's health.

Below are the potential health benefits from feeding watermelon to dogs.

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Health benefits of watermelon for dogs

5 Benefits of Watermelon for Dogs

Dogs can eat watermelon in moderate amounts and reap some of the health benefits it provides. However, very few of these have been supported by studies and are mostly based on human research. Nevertheless, as long as watermelon for dogs is safe to consume, it's likely that feeding it on occasion to your Fido will only benefit him.

1. Beta-carotene in watermelons may help improve eye health.

The Vitamin A (beta-carotene) found in watermelons may help promote and maintain your dog’s eyesight. Even more so, because watermelon contains a large amount of citrulline, it improves Vitamin A absorption and allows the body to form beta-carotene more easily.

2. Vitamin C in watermelons provides several health benefits for dogs.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) in watermelon is a vital nutrient which is known to strengthen a dog’s immune system and help canines combat degenerative conditions.

Vitamin C may also improve cartilage and collagen synthesis in dogs.

3. Watermelons contain potassium, a vital mineral for body function.

Watermelons have loads of potassium which improves blood vessel function, replaces lost electrolytes in a dog's body, and strengthens dog's muscle development.

4. The magnesium in watermelon is critical to growth and production.

There are small amounts of magnesium found in watermelon. Magnesium helps the dog’s body to produce proteins, develop healthy bone growth, and absorb necessary vitamins.

5. Watermelons are an excellent source of hydration.

Watermelon is a very water-dense fruit, making it a perfect snack to keep your dog hydrated on a hot summer day, similar to why you would give cucumbers to dogs.

This is particularly applicable to active dogs that expend a lot of energy and dehydrate themselves quickly while forgetting to drink plenty of water.

Watermelon health facts infographic

“So, can I give my dog watermelon?”

Yes, dogs can eat watermelons without any problems as long as you give it in moderate amounts and as an occasional treat rather than turn it into a main dietary component. Just like giving cantaloupe to dogs, too much of this sweet fruit is not good.

But as long as the dog has an otherwise healthy diet where a sufficient amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates are provided, watermelons for dogs may be a healthy addition.

That said, there are a few safety precautions of feeding watermelon to dogs that you must keep in mind, and I'll cover those below.

What about watermelon juice for dogs?

Fresh, natural watermelon juice is just grounded up watermelon. This means that watermelon juice for dogs is also safe to consume, provided there are no additives.

The Bottom Line: Watermelon is safe for dogs to eat. Dogs enjoy watermelon because it is tasty, refreshing and very sweet, so be sure to avoid overfeeding them.

2 Potential Side Effects of Watermelons for Dogs

Side effects of watermelons for dogsWe've established that feeding watermelons for dogs can provide several health benefits and a watermelon is a totally safe treat for canines.

However, watermelon seeds are dangerous to dogs and overfeeding dogs on watermelon can also pose certain risks.

Here's what you need to keep in mind:

1. Too much watermelon can cause stomach upset in dogs.

If fed in excess, watermelon can cause gastrointestinal problems in dogs, including vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Because of its high content of natural sugar and several nutrients, too much of this good thing is bad for dogs.

2. Large pieces of watermelon can cause choking hazards.

Even though watermelon is easy for dogs to eat, some large watermelon chunks can get caught in a dog’s throat, as dogs are normally more likely to swallow than chew.

It's advisable that watermelon should be cut up into smaller pieces before feeding it to dogs to prevent any potential choking hazards.

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More on Watermelons for Dogs
5 Safety Precautions

Dangers of feeding watermelon to dogsWhile it's safe to feed watermelon to dogs, and there are no side effects that we currently know of (provided you feed it moderation and as an occasional treat), there are certain safety precautions that all dog owners must be aware of.

The two main dangers of watermelon for dogs are its seeds and watermelon rinds. Dogs still love the taste of either, or they may accidentally ingest these. So here's what you need to keep in mind:

Watermelon rinds are dangerous for dogs.

The fruit of a watermelon itself may be fine for dogs to eat, but its exterior is not.

Watermelon rind does not provide the nutritional value to dogs that it does to humans, and because of its potential dangers to dogs, it’s not worth risking your dog’s health.

Here are two reasons why watermelon rind should be avoided at all costs:

1. Watermelon rind is pure roughage and causes intestinal distress in dogs.

Watermelon rind is extremely difficult for dogs to digest. It may cause gastrointestinal problems, resulting in diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and vomiting. It also poses a choking hazard as well as potential intestinal blockage if given in large pieces.

2. Watermelon rind can do serious damage to your dog’s teeth.

Because watermelon rind is so tough to chew, a dog may persist at working at the rind which can cause damage to the teeth and gums. Even though dog's teeth are generally tough and able to handle harder things, it's not worth the risk.

Watermelon seeds are dangerous to dogs as well.

Another potentially dangerous aspect of feeding watermelon for dogs is its seeds. Why are watermelon seeds so problematic for dogs? There are several reasons:

3. Watermelon seeds can cause intestinal blockages.

Watermelon seeds are too small for a dog to choke on, but enough of them can cause a blockage in the intestines, and watermelons have a lot of seeds. Before you give your dog watermelon, all seeds need to be removed from the fruit.

4. Watermelon seeds are hard to digest and may cause stomach upset.

Just like with the seeds of most other fruits and vegetables, dogs who ingest too many watermelon seeds can suffer from an upset stomach, including vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

5. Seedless watermelons still have seeds, making them dangerous.

Don’t be fooled by the term “seedless watermelon.” They may not have the larger black seeds and will have smaller amounts of seeds in general, but they still have those pesky small white seeds that can also cause intestinal upset and blockages in dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?Can Dogs Eat Watermelons

In conclusion, dogs can eat watermelons and watermelon is not toxic to dogs.

As long as you give your dog watermelon as an occasional treat and in moderation, there are even certain health benefits that your pet will reap from consuming it.

Be sure to contact a veterinarian if your dog has consumed too much watermelon, or if you know that your dog has ingested watermelon ring or seeds.


References and citations

Footnotes, study citations and further reading:

  1. Tarazona-Díaz MP1, Viegas J, Moldao-Martins M, Aguayo E. Bioactive compounds from flesh and by-product of fresh-cut watermelon cultivars. J Sci Food Agric. 2011 Mar 30;91(5):805-12. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.4250.
  2. Imen Tlilia, b, Chafik Hdiderb, Marcello Salvatore Lenucci. Bioactive compounds and antioxidant activities during fruit ripening of watermelon cultivars. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis Volume 24, Issue 7, November 2011, Pages 923–928
  3. Ikeda Y1, Young LH, Scalia R, Lefer AM. Cardioprotective effects of citrulline in ischemia/reperfusion injury via a non-nitric oxide-mediated mechanism. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Sep;22(7):563-71.
  4. Flynn NE1, Meininger CJ, Haynes TE, Wu G. The metabolic basis of arginine nutrition and pharmacotherapy. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Nov;56(9):427-38.
  5. Wu G1, Meininger CJ, Knabe DA, Bazer FW, Rhoads JM. Arginine nutrition in development, health and disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2000 Jan;3(1):59-66.
  6. Collins JK1, Wu G, Perkins-Veazie P, Spears K, Claypool PL, Baker RA, Clevidence BA. Watermelon consumption increases plasma arginine concentrations in adults. Nutrition. 2007 Mar;23(3):261-6.
  7. Miller NJ1, Sampson J, Candeias LP, Bramley PM, Rice-Evans CA. Antioxidant activities of carotenes and xanthophylls. FEBS Lett. 1996 Apr 22;384(3):240-2.
  8. Böhm V1, Puspitasari-Nienaber NL, Ferruzzi MG, Schwartz SJ. Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity of different geometrical isomers of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, and zeaxanthin. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Jan 2;50(1):221-6.
  9. Di Mascio P1, Kaiser S, Sies H. Lycopene as the most efficient biological carotenoid singlet oxygen quencher. Arch Biochem Biophys. 1989 Nov 1;274(2):532-8.
  10. Lucotti P1, Setola E, Monti LD, Galluccio E, Costa S, Sandoli EP, Fermo I, Rabaiotti G, Gatti R, Piatti P. Beneficial effects of a long-term oral L-arginine treatment added to a hypocaloric diet and exercise training program in obese, insulin-resistant type 2 diabetic patients. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Nov;291(5):E906-12. Epub 2006 Jun 13.
  11. Mirmiran, P., Bahadoran, Z., & Azizi, F. (2014). Functional foods-based diet as a novel dietary approach for management of type 2 diabetes and its complications: A review. World Journal of Diabetes, 5(3), 267–281.
  12. Figueroa A1, Sanchez-Gonzalez MA, Perkins-Veazie PM, Arjmandi BH. Effects of watermelon supplementation on aortic blood pressure and wave reflection in individuals with prehypertension: a pilot study. Am J Hypertens. 2011 Jan;24(1):40-4. doi: 10.1038/ajh.2010.142. Epub 2010 Jul 8.
  13. Figueroa A1, Sanchez-Gonzalez MA, Wong A, Arjmandi BH. Watermelon extract supplementation reduces ankle blood pressure and carotid augmentation index in obese adults with prehypertension or hypertension. Am J Hypertens. 2012 Jun;25(6):640-3. doi: 10.1038/ajh.2012.20. Epub 2012 Mar 8.
  14. Tarazona-Díaz MP1, Alacid F, Carrasco M, Martínez I, Aguayo E. Watermelon juice: potential functional drink for sore muscle relief in athletes. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Aug 7;61(31):7522-8. doi: 10.1021/jf400964r. Epub 2013 Jul 29.

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