The Shih Tzu is a people dog through and through. These dogs have been specifically bred to be companion canines to people.
These little “lion dogs” (the name Shih Tzu literally translates to mean “lion dog”) have been lap dogs and companion dogs for centuries now. As such, they often want to be wherever you are and do whatever you are doing – and eat whatever you are eating!
This can require daily research to make sure that the food you want to offer your Shih Tzu as a treat is safe for dogs to eat. In this article, we tackle the topic of whether watermelon is a safe treat your Shih Tzu can enjoy with you.
Can Shih Tzu Eat Watermelon?
The ripe, red inner flesh of the watermelon is perfectly safe for a Shih Tzu dog to eat. However, you don’t want to give your dog the hard, green outer rind.
Not only is the rind typically too dense and tough for tiny Shih Tzu teeth to safely chew on, but if swallowed it could lead to stomach upset or even an internal obstruction.
For best results, always separate the fruit from the rind before offering your Shih Tzu any watermelon to enjoy as a treat.
Watch a Shih Tzu Eating Watermelon
This sweet owner-made YouTube video captures the moment two Shih Tzu dogs get their first taste of watermelon. Clearly, the sweet fruit is a big hit.
As you will notice, the owner keeps a firm grip on the hard, green rind to make sure the little dogs don’t try to chew or swallow it.
Compare the Weight of a Shih Tzu Dog to the Weight of a Watermelon
Whenever you are evaluating whether a “people food” item is safe for your dog to snack on, you want to start with the size of the dog relative to the size of the snack.
The Shih Tzu is currently the American Kennel Club‘s 20th most popular purebred dog breed out of nearly 200 registered breeds.
They weigh between nine and 16 pounds on average and rarely stand more than 10.5 inches tall. So this is a very tiny dog breed!
Compare this with the size and weight of an average watermelon. According to What About Watermelon, the typical watermelon weighs between 20 and 25 pounds.
Even the little personal seedless watermelons can weigh as much as four to six pounds, according to Specialty Produce.
This means you never want to leave a whole watermelon out where your Shih Tzu might have access to it. If the whole fruit drops on or rolls over your tiny dog, it can actually cause injury!
However, as The Honest Kitchen points out, the fruit itself can have some wonderful nutritional benefits as long as it is served as an occasional treat food only.
What Nutrients Does Watermelon Offer Your Shih Tzu?
As Live Science explains, watermelon gets its name honestly.
This fruit is about 92 percent pure water.
But that other eight percent is pure nutrition.
Watermelon contains each of the following nutrients according to the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis.
Interestingly, the white part nearest the rind also has these nutritional properties, although it isn’t as pleasingly sweet as the red part.
According to the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), Vitamin A is a critical vitamin to help your dog develop healthy skin, coat, muscles, nerve function, and vision (especially night vision).
As Veterinary Practice explains, Vitamin B6 helps your dog maintain healthy skin and other protein structures including the skin.
Vitamin B6 is also important to help the body generate and deliver energy in the form of glucose to the cells.
Vitamin C is best known as the immune-boosting vitamin, but it does a lot more than that. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that eases inflammation and allergy symptoms, keeps the mind sharp in the older years, and removes free radicals from the body.
Lycopene is another antioxidant that can fight the damaging effects of free radicals. It also helps promote strong bones, a healthy heart, and healthy cellular development.
Lycopene is also a possible cancer-fighting agent that may limit tumor growth.
Potassium is very important to help your dog maintain the right balance of electrolytes for healthy heart function and kidney function. Potassium also supports healthy nervous system activity and muscle activity.
Citrulline is an amino acid that helps your dog’s body make arginine. Arginine, in turn, supports cardiovascular health and good blood circulation.
Calcium is a vital nutrient to promote strong and healthy bones and teeth. Calcium also helps with muscle contraction, blood clotting, and cellular health.
Iron helps dogs make blood cells, particularly red blood cells and hemoglobin. Iron also guards against anemia and helps the cells bring nutrients to every part of the body.
Dietary fiber is an essential part of your dog’s daily diet to maintain healthy gastrointestinal balance. Getting enough dietary fiber is critical for proper elimination and to maintain the good bacteria in the gut.
Protein contributes a range of essential amino acids that can help every system in your dog’s bodywork properly. Healthy skin, hair, muscle, and tissues are all supported when your dog eats protein.
Are There Any Dangers of Feeding Watermelon to Your Shih Tzu?
Watermelon is considered to be a safe food to offer to your Shih Tzu as long as you keep certain basic safety guidelines in mind.
Don’t ever offer the rind
As you read here earlier, the smaller the dog, the more careful you want to be of never offering watermelon fruit still on the rind.
This is because the rind could easily cause a choking hazard or an intestinal obstruction if swallowed. It could also be very difficult to digest and cause an upset stomach.
Because the rind is so dense and tough, it is possible your Shih Tzu might also break a tooth trying to chew on it.
Don’t let your dog eat the watermelon seeds
While there is some research to support that watermelon seeds offer beneficial dietary fiber and amino acids, this research is for consumption by people, not dogs.
Watermelon seeds might not bother a large breed dog, but for your Tiny Shih Tzu, it is safer to remove all the seeds before letting your dog try the fruit.
The seeds may have similar risks to the rind in that they are hard, difficult to digest, and could potentially cause choking or obstruction if ingested in sufficient quantities.
Don’t let your dog eat too much watermelon
Watermelon is wonderfully hydrating and beneficial when eaten in moderation. But if your Shih Tzu eats too much all at once, it may upset the balance of the G.I. tract and lead to loose stools or even diarrhea.
How to Serve Watermelon Safely to Your Shih Tzu
There are several fun ways you might want to try serving watermelon to your Shih Tzu.
Dice a slice
One easy way is just to dice a slice of watermelon up into small bite-size cubes and feed a few cubes as a treat on hot summer days. This is a particularly great way to make sure your dog is taking in enough moisture.
Make watermelon pops
Another fun way to serve watermelon is to blend up some fresh watermelon with a little water and pour it into an ice cube tray or a child’s popsicle mold tray. Freeze the watermelon and then you can serve it to your dog as a summer treat.
Combine with yogurt or other fruits or veggies
You can also reduce the amount of watermelon by adding in some beneficial yogurt, carrot shavings, coconut or goat’s milk or other nutrients, and pureeing it together, then freezing it.
Watermelon fruit cocktail
Make a little melon cocktail with watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, or honeydew. Dice it up and serve as a refreshing snack.
Safety Tips For Your Shih Tzu to Try Watermelon for the First Time
While watermelon is a safe and healthy treat for dogs to try, you always want to exercise caution the very first time your dog tries any new food.
The best way is to just offer your Shih Tzu one to two dime-size cubes at the very first feeding. Then wait 24 hours and observe how your dog reacts (especially at bathroom time).
If you don’t see anything that causes you concern, then the next time you can offer a few more watermelon cubes at treat time.
Because watermelon is high in sugar, it isn’t a food to offer every day. Rather, consider adding watermelon into your summertime weekly treat rotation along with other dog-friendly healthy fruits and vegetables.