Summer is always a great time to enjoy a whole cantaloupe or even slices of it. Some of us would love to have it into a melon shake while most would rather enjoy it raw. Regardless of how you wish to enjoy melons in the summer, it is often best relished with your furry 4-legged best friend. After all, you really cannot deny that they also want a piece or two of that refreshing cantaloupe on your plate. But can dogs eat cantaloupe? Is it even safe?
If you want the short answer, yes, cantaloupe is safe for dogs to eat. However, there are certain issues that need to be understood first before you start serving your mutt several bowls of freshly sliced melons.
Cantaloupes are Packed with Micronutrients
Remember what we all say about fruits and vegetables being excellent sources of vitamins and minerals? That is exactly what cantaloupes bring to the table. Aside from the fact that it is actually 90 percent water, it makes sense that it can be given to pets, especially dogs that are not really keen on drinking water. In addition to the water content of melons, these are also exceptional sources of the following micronutrients.
- Vitamin A
A hundred grams of raw cantaloupe can easily give you about 170 micrograms of Vitamin A which is essential for good eyesight. While there are other richer sources of Vitamin A, cantaloupe should be particularly beneficial in improving the eyesight of dogs. This can have an impact on minimizing the risk of developing macular degeneration, especially among senior dogs. Vitamin A is also an excellent antioxidant which, in conjunction with Vitamin C, can really boost your dog’s ability to ward off infections and innately manage a variety of inflammatory and stress-related conditions.
This precursor of Vitamin A is generally known as an amazing antioxidant that can have a variety of implications especially when it comes to the prevention and management of inflammatory conditions. And since beta-carotene is an important precursor molecule for Vitamin A, it also plays a role in the development of healthy skin as well as a healthy and shiny coat. It also aids in normal bone development which should be very beneficial for dogs that are highly active. Beta-carotene can also play a crucial role in the prevention of certain canine cancers as well as in the promotion of optimum reproductive health.
- Vitamin C
Not many people know that cantaloupes are excellent sources of Vitamin C. A hundred grams of fresh melon contains about 36.7 milligrams of ascorbic acid and is particularly beneficial among dogs that are predisposed to the development of bone, joint, and skin problems. The reason for this lies in the well-established capabilities of ascorbic acid to promote the increased synthesis of collagen. This is a protein that is a vital component in many connective tissues of the body. Bone and cartilage are just two examples of the different types of connective tissues in the body. If dogs are unable to synthesize collagen, they can present with a variety of musculoskeletal, connective tissue, and articular problems. They may have canine arthritis and other joint problems. In addition to its role in collagen synthesis, vitamin C is also well-known for its antioxidant properties. This can help in the reduction or elimination of inflammatory events in the dog’s body.
This mineral is a very important component of cellular functioning whereby its interplay with sodium helps facilitate the transmission of electrical impulses which, in turn, help contract and relax muscles. In other words, it serves as one of the essential components of a mechanism that allows muscles to contract and for nerves to generate impulses; hence, it is vital in optimum neurologic functioning and muscular system integrity. Can you imagine if your dog’s brain is not able to communicate with other body organs simply because there are no potassium ions that interact with sodium and other molecules? Technically, you have a dead pet.
These are just 4 of the many micronutrients that are found in cantaloupes. It also has trace amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate, niacin, choline, Vitamin K, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc, sodium, and phosphorus. While these micronutrients are found only in trace amounts, they can still provide for additional health benefits for your dog.
Giving Cantaloupe to a Diabetic or Obese Dog is Not a Good Idea
It’s true, melons are an excellent source of water, vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene, and Vitamin A. It’s also a great source of fiber which can aid in the more efficient movement of the bowels. Unfortunately, that’s basically all about it.
What you may already know about melons or cantaloupes, like all other fruits, are that it is rich in sugar. In fact, a hundred grams of raw melon easily contains 7.86 grams of sugar (remember, it’s 90 percent water or, in this case, 90.2 grams water). It also contains plant proteins but these are available in almost negligible amounts. What you need to understand is that the moderately high sugar content of cantaloupes can increase the risk of certain dogs that are already predisposed to the development of diabetes.
It should be noted that giving your dog a basket full of cantaloupes doesn’t necessarily make it a diabetic dog. An increase in blood sugar is known as hyperglycemia and this is a very natural phenomenon after every meal. Any organism that consumed a carbohydrate-rich food will eventually have an increase in blood sugar levels a few hours after a meal. During this time, the body is mobilizing these sugar molecules by repackaging them for cells to feed on. After some time, because most of the sugar in the blood has been moved inside the cell, blood sugar levels return to normal. So, hyperglycemia after a meal is a natural and normal phenomenon.
The problem is when these sugar molecules in the blood are not efficiently moved into the cells and other tissues that normally take such substances. There are two ways in which this can occur. First is that there is insufficient number of transporters that will bring the sugar molecules from the blood and into the target cells. It is also possible that there simply are no transporters around. This occurs if the pancreas which is supposed to produce these transporters – known as insulin – is diseased or has a problem of its own. Because there are no transporters, what happens is that sugar molecules stay in the blood for a much longer period of time. And because there are no sugar molecules in the cells, there is a strong likelihood that these cells will starve and will begin to look for other sources of fuel.
The second mechanism is when there are transporters, but there is a miscommunication between the transporters and the cells receiving them. In most cases, there is resistance to insulin such that sugar molecules are also not moved from the blood. Technically, some are moved but at a rather very slow rate.
Based on these two mechanisms, you can easily understand why eating too much sugar can aggravate the already-compromised sugar-transport mechanism in the body. If you give your dog cantaloupe now and it has undiagnosed diabetes, it may not be able to move the excess sugar into its cells. This leads to an increase in glucose in the blood.
While canine diabetes is believed to develop later in a dog’s life, usually around 6 to 9 years of canine age, certain breeds are simply more prone to the development of diabetes. These can include the following dog breeds
- Australian terrier
- Schnauzer, both standard and miniature
- Golden retriever
Again, do understand that cantaloupe is very safe for dogs; unless you have a mutt that is already diagnosed as diabetic or even obese or is genetically predisposed to the development of such metabolic conditions. If your pet doesn’t have the inherent risk for obesity or for diabetes, then cantaloupe should be just fine. However, if you are not sure if your dog has a genetic tendency to become diabetic or obese, you might want to subject it to some dog DNA testing.
Watch Out for Gastric Upsets, Too
Your pet may not be obese or diabetic, but if it eats a lot of cantaloupes, there is a strong tendency that it might get stomach upset. This is especially true if you happen to give Fido the rinds of the melon. These have been shown to be particularly harmful to dogs as these can lead to gastrointestinal problems. Your pet might suddenly go diarrheic. And one of the complications of severe diarrhea is electrolyte imbalances and dehydration. Of course, this is thinking far in advance. But the point is that you’d feel much safer if you avoid giving the cantaloupe rind altogether. Just focus on giving your pet the flesh.
There is another possible reason why your pet may have diarrhea after eating cantaloupe. It’s been observed that the surface of melon can actually contain Salmonella, a kind of bacteria that is not really that friendly to the digestive tract. That is why it is highly recommended that cantaloupes be thoroughly washed and scrubbed before cutting to reduce the risk of contaminating the inner flesh of the fruit with Salmonella. It is also recommended that any uneaten slice of cantaloupe be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 3 days. This helps lower, if not eliminate, the risk of Salmonella or other pathogenic bacteria in the fruit.
So, Can Dogs Eat Cantaloupe?
After what we have been discussing so far, it should be clear that cantaloupe is a very safe and nutritious fruit that dogs and other pets love to eat. Just look at the following health benefits that it provides your dog.
- Aids in protecting your dog’s eyes from macular degeneration through the action of zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that effectively filters out the blue UV rays that have been shown to be particularly harmful to the eyes of a dog.
- Promotes healthy functioning of the heart muscles by providing your dog with sufficient amounts of potassium. An enhanced cardiac muscle functioning leads to the more efficient delivery of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to all the cells of your pet’s body. This also helps prevent premature aging brought about by insufficient oxygen in the tissues.
- Facilitates healthier digestion, especially in the more efficient movement of the bowels, because of its fiber content. As long as you stay away from the rinds, your dog should be able to enjoy all these gut-friendly benefits.
- Hydrates your pet which provides for a more stable fluid and electrolyte balance. Just imagine a hundred-gram melon able to give your pet about 3 ounces’ worth of water or fluids in a very tasty, sweet, and fruity flavor. This should come in really handy during the hot summer months as dogs can really feel the heat. Giving them a slice or two of melon is like letting them drink 3 or 6 ounces of water.
- It helps improve bone, joint health, and skin health through the action of Vitamin C on collagen production. This guarantees optimum mobility for your dog needed for exercise, play, and socialization.
- Aids in the prevention of inflammatory conditions like arthritis and other canine health issues. The antioxidants present in cantaloupes, together with Vitamins A and C, all work together to dampen the effects of free radicals by muting the inflammatory process.
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So, how should you serve cantaloupe to your furry friend? Here are some tips.
- Always wash and scrub the outer surface of the melon thoroughly.
- Do not let your pet lick or even eat the exterior of the cantaloupe.
- Forget giving the rinds as well as the seeds. While these may be safe, these can produce stomach upsets.
- Slice your melons in 1- or 2- inch thick wedges, depending on the size of your pet. Give only a maximum of 2 slices.
- Give melons as treats, but never as a part of its regular diet.
Can dogs eat cantaloupes? Sure they can. But you do have to take note of a few things that we have already presented. As long as your pet is not diabetic or obese, giving small flesh-only pieces of melon as a treat should be just fine for your mutt.