Stay in Touch Get pupdates from the pack.
Fruits are a favorite snack for many of us humans, especially as the warmer seasons roll in and more fruits are in season.
It’s only natural that we want to share our favorite snacks with the pets we love, especially when our dogs turn those big puppy eyes at us.
As pet parents, we want to keep our dogs happy, and turning them down from a bite of our food isn’t always easy. However, we are also responsible for our dogs’ health and wellbeing, so it is vital to be well informed on what foods can and can’t safely eat before giving them food of any kind.
Even fruits and veggies that are healthy for us aren’t always safe or healthy for our dogs, but in the case of today’s Spot Pet Insurance topic, melons (aka cantaloupe), the stars align!
Read on to learn about the health benefits of melons, as well as precautions you should take and ideas for snack time!
The melon family includes watermelon, honeydew, cucumbers, and cantaloupe, among others. Today, we’re focusing on cantaloupe, also known simply as melon, rock melon, or musk melon.
For humans, cantaloupe is often considered a superfood, although this term is often used lightly. Without a doubt, cantaloupe, like many fruits, have outstanding nutritional benefits for us, although they must still be consumed in moderation as with anything.
Dogs are much more similar to humans than cats and often get similar results from fruits and veggies. In the case of cantaloupe, the flesh of the fruit is not toxic to dogs. Therefore, this fruit can overall be viewed as a safe snack!
Let’s break down some of the pros and cons of cantaloupe for canines.
Cantaloupe is a fruit with many strong upsides and very few downsides, making it one of the best alternative treats for dogs. It’s a great hydrator with low calories and tons of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are vital to canine health.
The first thing to know about these musky melons is that they are mostly water — 90%, in fact!
This aspect of their composition has benefits in two main respects. The first is that cantaloupe helps keep your dog hydrated. Obviously, you shouldn’t be replacing water with cantaloupe, but this fruit adds extra water to your dog’s system, which can be especially vital on hot days.
The water content of cantaloupe also contributes to its low glycemic index, a measure of how a food affects blood sugar levels. Cantaloupe is a sweet fruit and does contain sugar, but the amount of sugar it contains per pound is relatively low compared to many other fruits, largely due to how much of the fruit is water.
Often these melons might even be recommended by a veterinarian for dogs with weight issues or diabetes mellitus, so you should consult your vet if you’re looking for appropriate treats for a dog in such a situation.
Cantaloupe is packed with all sorts of beneficial nutrients that humans and dogs can enjoy.
Dietary fiber from this fruit helps with gut health, aiding your dog’s digestive system.
These melons are also an excellent source of antioxidants, including vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, selenium, lutein, choline, and zeaxanthin.
Antioxidants protect against oxidation, which is the deterioration of normal cells caused by free radicals. Oxidation is often associated with the effects of aging, so while cantaloupe won’t magically stop time, it can help your dog’s body feel a little younger as they age.
Antioxidants are also anti-inflammatory and support your dog’s brain health, immune system, and cardiac health. They can also help prevent certain cancer risks.
Potassium, an electrolyte vital to canine health, is another big benefit packed into cantaloupes. Potassium aids heart health, contributes to a healthy nervous system, helps with muscle health, and aids overall growth. Without enough potassium, dangerous conditions such as hypokalemia could occur.
Other benefits include niacin, which turns sugar and fat into energy, magnesium, which breaks down protein and fatty acids, manganese, vitamin K, folate, and more.
On top of all these dietary benefits, cantaloupe doesn’t contribute much to your dog’s caloric intake. These low-calorie, low-sugar, high-nutrient fruits are truly amazing, but you should be aware of some potential (and avoidable) downsides.
Cantaloupe is a safe fruit overall, but only when properly prepared and portioned to be served to your dog. You shouldn’t just leave out slices of cantaloupe unattended, nor let your dog pick through your picnic basket at will.
The first potential danger of cantaloupes lies before you even cut the fruit open. The rind of these melons could carry salmonella or listeria, two dangerous bacterial diseases that are harmful to both humans and dogs.
While this isn’t a common problem, you should still be careful of these bacteria on your cantaloupe. We’re talking more about how to safely prepare cantaloupe with these bacteria in mind a little later in this guide.
If your dog does contract salmonella, the symptoms may vary. Some cases could be relatively minor or even asymptomatic, while others could be severe and even life-threatening.
Aside from diligent cleaning of the fruit, knowing the signs is a pet parent’s next best tool against this disease, so that prompt treatment can be sought if a dog becomes infected.
Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, nausea, reduced appetite, abdominal pain, and lack of energy. Sepsis, shock, or sudden death may occur in especially severe cases.
Listeriosis has similar symptoms but is even rarer, although you should nonetheless be cautious and always clean fruit rinds.
Unlike the seeds of some fruits, such as apples, or the pits of cherries, apricots, and peaches, all of which contain cyanide (a dangerous poison), cantaloupe seeds are safe for consumption.
However, that doesn’t mean you should let your dog eat them. The seeds are mostly indigestible and can cause stomach upset, so it’s best to remove the mushy flesh full of seeds from cantaloupe before giving the fruit to your dog.
Like seeds, the leaves and vines of cantaloupe are also indigestible. This part of the melon likely won’t seem appetizing to your dog anyway, but it’s the safest practice to keep it away from them as needed.
All dogs are different. Some may react adversely to a food that other dogs show no reaction to. Before giving any new human food to your dog, you should consult with a trusted veterinarian. Additionally, there are certain signs you should look for after feeding a new food in case your dog does have or develop a food sensitivity.
These signs include vomiting, diarrhea, itchiness, poor skin, poor coat, chronic ear infections, foot infections, hives, facial swelling, and in the most severe cases, anaphylactic shock.
The health benefits of melons are certainly clear to see, but cantaloupe must still be treated as treats, not as a core part of a complete diet.
You should always give your dog cantaloupe only in moderation and only after consulting a trusted veterinarian who knows your dog.
Moderation can mean different amounts for different dogs. A general rule is that your dog should get at least 90% of their daily calories from balanced dog food and no more than 10% from treats.
The most important first step is to wash and brush the rind since cantaloupe rind can trap salmonella and listeria. Cutting the rind, if it is unwashed, could contaminate your knife and, subsequently, the fruit flesh, so this step is essential.
Once you’ve washed and cut the fruit, you should also remove the seeds. You can simply cut out the entire mushy area of flesh around the seeds.
It’s best to cut down the remaining fruit flesh into bite-sized pieces. Small dogs are particularly prone to choking hazards, but large dogs can eat too quickly and choke as well, so help by serving proper portions.
If you’re looking to spice up snack time and add even more nutritional benefits, mix a few pieces of cantaloupe with a small serving of plain greek yogurt (ensuring it has no artificial ingredients) with other fruits such as strawberries, mango, and blueberries.
We’re committed to helping you through the pet parent journey every step of the way, from feeding your dog healthy snacks to understanding their illnesses and learning how to care for their coat.
Get pupdates from the pack.
Get pupdates from the pack.