Can Dogs Eat Watermelon? Here’s the Juicy Verdict, from Veterinarians

Two vets share what happens when dogs eat watermelon, including one sweet benefit your precious pupper can experience from this tasty warm-weather treat.

That moment when you bite into the perfect slice of watermelon. If your dog is looking on longingly at your fruit from nearby, is it safe to slip them a nibble?

Melon isn’t typically considered a dog treat in the classic sense, like a bite of turkey lunchmeat or a morsel of cheese might be. But is watermelon safe for your pup to try? Two veterinarians shared the scoop on whether dogs can eat watermelon, including how much watermelon a canine can eat before it gives you paws. (We had to.)

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Here’s why you should know which human foods are safe for pets

Just because you can eat a particular food doesn’t make it safe for Milo—in fact, some very normal human snacks can make your dog incredibly ill or even be fatal, says Efrem Hunter, DVM, MBA, a veterinarian and director of Veterinary and Scientific Affairs who conducts research on pet food safety and nutrition at Blue Buffalo Co. “When your dog looks up at you with those begging eyes, it’s hard to resist giving them a tasty treat from your plate,” Dr. Hunter says. “However, avoiding potential hazards is an important part of pet parenthood.”

As just a few examples, you should never give your dog any food that contains even the tiniest amounts of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, or the sweetener Xylitol (stealthily called “birch sugar” on some food labels these days). Also, know that grapes or raisins are toxic to some dog breeds, says Jacqueline Brister, DVM, a veterinarian and consultant for Embrace Pet Insurance. “Paying attention to ingredients helps prevent unnecessary pain and suffering and can help them live longer,” says Dr. Brister.

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So, is watermelon safe for dogs to eat?

Eating watermelon shouldn’t be the main source of nutrition for your pup, but it can be a fun and healthy snack for most dogs, say our docs. The fruit itself is safe to eat in moderate amounts—definitely not more than one cup per day, and don’t try to send them off unsupervised with their own personal slice.

If you’re going to serve your dog watermelon, Dr. Hunter says it’s essential to remove the rind and seeds. “It is important to remove any seeds before giving it to your dog, as they can cause intestinal blockage,” Dr. Huner says. “While some dogs may happily eat the rind, this isn’t a good idea as it can cause gastrointestinal upset.” He adds that it’s key to slice the melon into snackable chunks that are bite-sized according to your pup’s size.

There are some prepackaged pet snacks that contain watermelon, too. Make sure you read through the entire ingredients list and choose snacks from a reputable manufacturer, says Dr. Hunter. He recommends looking for dog snacks with a short ingredient list of whole foods and without additives and preservatives. Be sure to follow the serving size listed on the package, as eating too much of anything can cause stomach upset or worse.

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One major benefit of letting your dog eat a small amount of watermelon

Watermelon is 92% water (hence the name!) which makes it one of the most hydrating foods. This can be a big benefit for dogs, especially during the summertime when they may be panting or drooling because they have a harder time regulating their body temperature. “Watermelon, in moderation, can help increase dogs’ water intake, helping them stay hydrated,” says Dr. Hunter.

Plus, watermelon is high in several nutrients that dogs need, including vitamin A, B-6, and C, as well as potassium. Vitamin C can give your pet a stronger immune system, improve their bladder health, and protect joints. Dogs naturally produce their own vitamin C, so most don’t need a supplement—but Dr. Hunter says adding some through their diet, including watermelon, can give them a healthy boost.

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What are the health risks of eating watermelon for dogs?

Watermelon can be filling without providing many calories—in fact, some vets actually recommend it as a healthy, low-calorie snack for dogs trying to lose weight, says Dr. Brister.

But if your dog doesn’t need to lose weight, loading up on watermelon may cause them to not eat enough calories to support their needs. Says Dr. Brister: “I always recommend moderation because eating watermelon can potentially cause an upset stomach in your dog.” She says this is more likely when watermelon is fed in large amounts to a dog that’s not used to eating such types of foods. Watermelon can cause gas and bloating in people, as well as dogs. (Watermelon is also one of the surprising foods that can trigger migraine in humans.)

Even though most dogs will be fine eating watermelon, it may not agree with your unique pup. (After all, we know they’re one of a kind.) So pay attention to any signs that your furry friend is in distress after eating watermelon, including but not limited to:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Marked changes in behavior

Talk to your vet about any specific dietary concerns you have for your individual dog.

What to do if you think your dog is having a bad reaction to something they ate

Whether it’s watermelon or something else you gave them from your plate, if your dog is showing signs of distress, call your veterinarian immediately.

“If you’re worried, don’t hesitate to reach out!” Dr. Brister says. “We get these kinds of calls all the time and we will be able to tell you whether the food or item eaten is concerning and what the next steps should be.” She adds: “Never try to treat a potentially toxic ingestion without a veterinarian’s advice.”

Other wise options are the ASPCA’s 24-hour poison hotline (888-426-4435) or the Pet Poison Hotline (855-764-7661).

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Sources

Jacqueline Brister, DVM, veterinarian and Consultant at Embrace Pet Insurance

Efrem Hunter, DVM, MBA, veterinarian, and chief of Blue Buffalo Veterinary and Scientific Affairs

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, MS, is an award-winning journalist, author, and ghostwriter who for nearly two decades has covered health, fitness, parenting, relationships, and other wellness and lifestyle topics for major outlets, including Reader’s Digest, O, The Oprah Magazine, Women’s Health, and many more. Charlotte has made appearances with television news outlets such as CBS, NBC, and FOX. She is a certified group fitness instructor in Denver, where she lives with her husband and their five children.