By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is a fruit that has been around for thousands of years, with its cultivation reaching as far back as ancient Egypt.1 It is one of the most popular fruits in the summer. In fact, during hot summer days, this fruit is on most people’s grocery lists.
But because it is made of 90 percent water, watermelon has been wrongly accused of just being a “mixture of sugar and water.” However, studies are now proving that it is one of the most promising fruits in the human diet when it comes to nutrient density and vitamin content.2 But is this also applicable to pets?
If you’re a pet parent, you’ll be pleased to know that dogs can eat watermelon. Not only that, but it might be one of the best choices of fruits you can share with your pets while enjoying the warmth of this season.
Is Watermelon Safe for Dogs?
With its juiciness and thirst-quenching properties, watermelon is one of the most refreshing fruits you can munch on. However, there’s a chance that while you’re eating a slice of watermelon, your beloved pooch might be staring at you with his/her puppy dog eyes.
This is one of the most frequent dilemmas when it comes to being a pet parent: determining whether your pets can eat what you’re eating without unknowingly compromising their health. Luckily, watermelon is safe for dogs and other pets, so go ahead and give them a bite.
However, make sure that you remove the watermelon seeds from their portions as this might cause abdominal blockage when eaten in large amounts. The skin and rind should also be removed as these may cause stomach upset.3 Note that dogs should not be fed watermelon as a primary source of sustenance, and that it should only be given in moderation.
Nutritionally Speaking, Is Watermelon Good for Dogs?
One of the most important factors in maintaining your pet’s overall health is their diet. Keeping your pets on a well-balanced, species-appropriate diet will ensure that they will be as healthy as they can be throughout their lives.
Watermelon is packed with numerous antioxidants and other nutrients, which may prove to be beneficial for your pets. The antioxidants found in this fruit can help destroy the circulating free radicals in your pet’s body, which may positively influence overall body function.4
Your pets may get this benefit from watermelon as this fruit is rich in lycopene, which gives it its distinct red color. In fact, watermelon contains approximately 40 percent more lycopene than raw tomatoes.5
Can Cats Eat Watermelon, Too?
You’ve probably found cat videos adorably biting into watermelon halves, chins soaked with watermelon juices and without a care in the world. As with their canine counterparts, felines can benefit from eating watermelon occasionally. This may be a tasty way for cats to get their fluid intake up, as well as get more antioxidants into their diet, which can both boost their health.
In a 2007 study, senior cats were given controlled diets containing antioxidants and fatty acids. Not only were they healthier, but they also had reduced disease incidence and longer lifespans compared to the group fed with the basal diet without added antioxidants.6
However, make sure that you don’t feed them too much, as watermelon is high in fructose, and this might cause some health issues if given in excess to both cats and dogs.7 Watermelon seeds and rind should also be removed before being given to your cats to avoid accidentally causing stomach blockage and other health complications.8
Make These Refreshing Watermelon Dog and Cat Treats Today
Aside from giving your pets their own watermelon slices (with seeds removed), you also have the option of making watermelon frozen treats to help your pets beat the heat. Here’s an easy way you can make watermelon treats for doggies and kitties:
Frozen Watermelon Treats
✓ 1 watermelon
✓ Ice tray
- Remove the seeds from the watermelon.
- Scoop out the watermelon from the rind.
- Blend the pieces to make a puree.
- Pour the puree into ice cube trays and freeze.
What Are the Benefits of Watermelon for Pets?
Watermelon is rich in numerous antioxidants and vitamins that may be beneficial for your pets. Some of the notable nutrients your pets can get from watermelon are:9,10
- Potassium — It is considered one of the essential nutrients in pet health, as it’s the third most abundant mineral in animals’ bodies. Potassium is responsible for promoting water balance, enzyme activation and regulation of cardiovascular function.11 It also helps pets recover from strenuous exercise.12
- Vitamin A — Supports numerous processes in your pet’s body, including growth, organ development, eye health and cell proliferation. Additionally, vitamin A deficiency has been linked to compromised immune function.13
- Vitamin B6 — One of the nutrients considered to be at high risk of being underprovided in most pet diets. While it is commonly found in various foods, vitamin B6 levels in pets should be closely monitored as a deficiency may cause a cascade of health problems, including anemia, unexplained weight loss and convulsions. Vitamin B6 is an important component in carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism and immune function.14
- Vitamin C — As a water-soluble vitamin, it’s important that your pets have a steady source of vitamin C. Optimal levels of vitamin C may help combat bladder infections and joint pain in your pets.15
Watermelon Is a Safe and Refreshing Treat for Cats and Dogs, but Give It in Moderation
If you’re looking for healthy treats you can give your pets during summer, consider giving them watermelon. This fruit is a good source of vitamins and minerals, which can help boost your pet’s health and also increase their fluid intake.
But take note that moderation is key when it comes to achieving peak health, even in pets. You can give your pets watermelon as treats, but this fruit should not be their sole source of nutrients, and should just be one component in their species-appropriate diet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Watermelon for Pets
Q: Is watermelon bad for dogs?
A: On the contrary, watermelon is rich in numerous nutrients that would prove beneficial for your dog. Not only that, but the high water content of this fruit can help your dog get optimal fluid levels, which is important especially during warm seasons. Just make sure that you’re not giving them too much watermelon, or worse, giving them only watermelon. A well-balanced diet is key to keeping your pets healthy.
Q: Can dogs eat watermelon rind?
A: Watermelon rind should not be fed to dogs or cats as it can cause stomach upset.16
Q: Can dogs eat watermelon seeds?
A: If your dog accidentally ate one or two watermelon seeds, it wouldn’t be a problem at all. However, if ingested in large amounts, the seeds may cause stomach blockage. If you’re planning on feeding the fruit to your dogs or cats, make sure to remove the seeds before letting them take a bite.