So you’re having brunch with friends and your dog is gazing longingly at your plate. A little bite of watermelon wouldn’t hurt him, would it? After all, it’s mostly water—right?
The good news is that treating your dog to a small chunk of melon on an occasional basis is likely OK. Make sure to avoid giving your dog the rind and seeds, just as you do for yourself.
Like people, dogs are omnivores that evolved eating both meat and plant food sources, and watermelon qualifies as the latter.
According to Watermelon.org, this fruit is a valuable source of vitamins A and B6, electrolytes such as potassium, and of course water (a slice is 92% water!).
These are all essential nutrients for you and your dog. Watermelon also is high in lycopene, an antioxidant that researchers believe may reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases and help protect the skin from harmful UV rays—potential benefits for both you and your canine companion.
However, experts do warn that too much of a good thing, like watermelon, can lead to problems. Watermelon is high in fiber and may cause digestive upsets, especially if your dog overindulges.
Veterinarians and pet nutritionists agree that a good rule of thumb for treating your healthy dog with human foods like watermelon is to not exceed 10% of your dog’s total calorie intake for the day.
In simpler terms, if you think of filling your dog’s food bowl with everything he or she eats in one day, at least 90% of the bowl’s contents should be a complete-and-balanced dog food. The other 10% can be made up of dog food and/or treats, including things like watermelon.
To figure out what 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake looks like, use PawedIn’s Ultimate Dog Calories Calculator for an estimate of how many calories your pet needs every day. This will help you figure how much watermelon you can fit into your dog’s diet.
At 46 calories per cup, you could theoretically offer a 20-lb. dog up to 1 cup of watermelon daily and not exceed the 10% rule of thumb (see the pie chart below). However, because 1 cup is a lot of volume and fiber, especially for a small dog, you would be best to limit his watermelon intake to a bite or two as a special treat—like when you are brunching with friends.