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Can horses have watermelon?

Watermelon is a sweet and juicy fruit that many people enjoy during the warm summer months. It’s also a fruit that many horse owners wonder if they can share with their equine companions. So, can horses eat watermelon?

The short answer is yes, horses can eat watermelon and enjoy it as an occasional treat. Watermelon has some nutritional benefits for horses and is generally safe for them to consume in moderation. However, there are also some potential downsides to feeding horses watermelon that owners should be aware of.

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the pros and cons of giving watermelon to horses. We’ll cover:

  • The nutritional benefits of watermelon for horses
  • Potential risks and downsides of feeding horses watermelon
  • Tips for safely feeding watermelon to horses
  • Recommended serving sizes and frequency

Understanding all these factors will help you make an informed decision about whether to share some watermelon with your horse this summer.

The Nutritional Benefits of Watermelon for Horses

Watermelon has a nutrient profile that makes it a decent treat choice for horses in moderation. Here are some of the main nutritional benefits watermelon offers:

Vitamin A

Watermelon contains good levels of vitamin A, providing approximately 140 IU per 100 grams. Vitamin A is important for eye health, growth, strong hooves, and a shiny coat in horses. It also supports immune function.

Vitamin C

With about 13 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, watermelon can help provide horses with this essential antioxidant vitamin. Vitamin C supports connective tissue health, promotes wound healing, and aids immune defense in horses.


Watermelon gets its red color from the antioxidant compound lycopene. Lycopene may offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in the body. These types of phytonutrients support overall health.


Watermelon contains decent levels of potassium, providing about 170 mg per 100 gram serving. Potassium is an important electrolyte needed for muscle contraction, nerve function, and hydration status in horses.

Water Content

With a water content of over 90%, watermelon can be a tasty way to provide hydration, especially during hot weather or for horses with increased fluid needs. The water and electrolytes in watermelon can help horses stay hydrated.

So in moderate portions, watermelon can provide valuable vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fluids. But why not just feed horses watermelon all the time for these benefits? Let’s look at some of the potential downsides.

Potential Risks and Downsides of Feeding Horses Watermelon

While watermelon can make a nice occasional treat, there are some potential risks and downsides to feeding too much watermelon or giving it too frequently:

High Sugar Content

The biggest concern is that watermelon is high in natural sugars. A 100 gram serving contains about 7.5 grams of sugar. Consuming too much sugar can negatively impact blood insulin levels, digestion, and dental health if fed excessively.

High Water Content

With over 90% water content, watermelon is not very nutrient dense. Feeding large amounts may fill up a horse without providing adequate calories, protein, vitamins, or minerals.

Digestive Upset

Horses unaccustomed to watermelon may experience loose manure or even colic signs if they consume a large quantity at once. Introducing new treats slowly can help avoid digestive upset.

Choking Risk

Watermelon’s texture and juice content means it can pose a choking risk, especially if not properly chewed. Cutting watermelon into small pieces helps reduce this risk. But some horses may gulping down chunks too quickly.

Pesticide Residues

Non-organic watermelon may contain pesticide residues. While these are usually minimal, some horses may be sensitive to contaminants in conventionally grown produce.

So while small, occasional portions of watermelon are fine, horse owners should follow serving guidelines and not overdo it on this sugary, water-filled fruit.

Tips for Safely Feeding Watermelon to Horses

If you want to share some watermelon with your horse, here are some tips for doing so safely:

Start Slowly

When introducing any new food, start with just a small taste to see how your horse tolerates it. Give just a few bites of watermelon at first to watch for any signs of digestive upset or allergic reaction.

Cut into Small Pieces

Slice watermelon into bite-sized pieces no more than 1-2 inches big. Smaller pieces encourage thorough chewing and reduce choking risk.

Avoid Seeds

Pick out and discard any seeds, as they are tough to digest. You can also choose seedless varieties.

Use a Slow Feeder

Place cut up watermelon in a slow feeder bag or pan. This encourages horses to eat more slowly rather than gulping it down.

Provide Access to Water

Have fresh, clean water available at all times when feeding watermelon to help maintain hydration and digestive health.

Supervise Feeding

Stay present while your horse eats watermelon to make sure they chew properly and don’t eat too fast. Remove any uneaten pieces after 10-15 minutes.

Following these tips will help make watermelon a safe and healthy treat horse can enjoy.

Recommended Serving Size and Frequency for Horses

When it comes to how much watermelon horses can eat, moderation and proper serving sizes are key. Here are some general guidelines on watermelon portions for horses:

Serving Size

An appropriate single serving size of watermelon for a horse is:

– Medium/Large Horse (1,000-1,200 lbs): 2 cups chopped watermelon

– Small/Mini Horse (Less than 400 lbs): 1 cup chopped watermelon

Remember that a cup of chopped fruit contains a lot more pieces than a whole cup or two of watermelon. Stick to precise measured portions to prevent overfeeding.


Watermelon should be an occasional treat, not a daily one. Feeding watermelon no more than 2-3 times per week helps keep sugar and water intake controlled.

For some easy-keeping horses prone to weight gain or insulin resistance, even less frequent watermelon feeding may be appropriate. Monitor your individual horse’s condition and adjust as needed.

Avoid Large Amounts

Never feed horses a large quantity of watermelon at one time, like a whole watermelon. Stick to the recommended single serving sizes at each meal.

Following these watermelon feeding guidelines will allow horses to safely enjoy this summer fruit as a refreshing and nutritious occasional treat.

Can Horses Eat Other Parts of the Watermelon Plant?

When we think of horses eating watermelon, we typically imagine them just eating the red, juicy flesh we enjoy. But can horses eat other parts of the watermelon plant, like the rind, seeds, and leaves?

Here is a quick overview:

Watermelon Rind

The thick, green rind of the watermelon is tough and difficult for horses to digest. It is best not to feed the rind. However, some horses may nibble on it with no issues if they do not ingest large pieces.

Watermelon Seeds

Watermelon seeds should not be fed to horses. The hard outer seed coat is not easily digested and could cause intestinal upset or obstruction. Be sure to remove all seeds before feeding the watermelon flesh.

Watermelon Leaves and Vines

The leaves, stems, and vines of the watermelon plant also contain toxins called cucurbitacins that can be harmful. These parts should never be fed to horses and can cause illness if ingested. Only feed the fleshy interior of the watermelon.

So out of all parts of the watermelon plant, only the red flesh is safe for horses to eat. Use caution and supervise them around whole watermelon plants to prevent ingestion of other non-edible parts.

What About Other Melons – Can Horses Eat Cantaloupe, Honeydew, etc?

In addition to watermelon, owners sometimes wonder about feeding other types of melons to their horses as well. Here is a quick rundown on the most common varieties:


Also called muskmelon or rockmelon, cantaloupe can also be fed to horses in moderation as an occasional treat. It has a similar nutritional profile to watermelon. A 1-2 cup serving a few times a week is appropriate. Introduce slowly.


Honeydew melon is also non-toxic for horses and provides hydration and some nutrients. Follow the same feeding guidelines as watermelon – 1-2 cup serving size, 2-3 times per week at most.

Galia Melon

The Galia melon is a less common elongated, yellowish melon. Horses can eat it, though its higher sugar content means very modest portions are best. Limit it to an occasional small treat.

Other Melon Varieties

Many other melons like Canary, Crenshaw, and Santa Claus melons are also non-toxic for horses. Since most have high sugar content, treat them similarly to watermelon and feed no more than 1-2 cups, 2-3 times per week maximum as part of a balanced diet. Introduce new items slowly and watch for any adverse reactions.

In general, most melons can be fed to horses safely if done so occasionally, in moderation, and under proper supervision. But as with any treat, fruits should just be a small part of your horse’s overall diet.

What About Frozen or Dried Watermelon for Horses?

In addition to fresh watermelon, some owners also wonder about feeding their horse’s frozen watermelon or dried watermelon treats. Here’s an overview:

Frozen Watermelon

Freezing fresh watermelon into cubes, slices, or “popsicles” can be a great way to feed it to horses on a hot day. Just be sure to cut it into bite-sized pieces first to avoid choking risk. Let it thaw partially before feeding. Follow the same size and frequency guidelines as fresh watermelon.

Dried Watermelon Treats

There are some commercial horse treats made from dried watermelon now available. These provide concentrated nutrition and sugar, so feed them even more sparingly – no more than 1-2 small treats at a time and just 1-2 times per week.

Both frozen and dried watermelon products can add some variety, but they should still be fed in strict moderation to avoid overdoing sugars, calories, or digestion issues. And never substitute watermelon treats for your horse’s regular hay and feed.

Can Baby Horses (Foals) Eat Watermelon?

Many owners also wonder if watermelon is safe for young, growing horses to eat. Here are some guidelines on feeding watermelon to foals:

– Watermelon is safe once foals begin eating solid food, generally around 2-4 months of age. But introduce it slowly and carefully.

– Start with just a few bites at first to watch for any intestinal upset or allergic reaction.

– Slice watermelon into very small, bite-sized cubes for foals. Monitor chewing.

– Feed conservatively – just a handful of cubes at a time, 1-2 times per week maximum.

– Ensure proper nutrition from mare’s milk/foal feed. Watermelon is just a supplemental treat.

With careful introduction and small, occasional servings, watermelon can be a safe, enjoyable treat for foals. But never overfeed, and keep in mind that growing foals have different nutritional needs than mature horses. Consult your veterinarian if ever unsure about your foal’s diet.

Can Senior Horses Eat Watermelon?

Many aging horses benefit from added hydration, electrolytes, and antioxidants. But is watermelon appropriate for seniors? Here are some tips:

– Watermelon is safe for older horses to eat, but introduce carefully and watch for digestive issues.

– Cut watermelon into very small pieces and monitor chewing to prevent choking.

– Start with just a few bites and work up to 1-2 cups maximum per serving.

– Limit frequency to 2-3 times per week due to sugar content.

– Ensure proper senior diet and dental care are maintained. Melons do not replace complete senior feed.

With some extra precautions, watermelon can be a beneficial treat for senior horses to help promote hydration and provide nutritional supplementation. But daily feed, hay, and dental care are still essential. Consult your veterinarian on your senior horse’s diet needs.

Key Takeaways on Horses and Watermelon

To wrap up, here are some key overarching points to remember when considering feeding watermelon to your horse:

– Watermelon can provide vitamins, minerals, hydration, and antioxidants – but it is high in sugar and water content.

– Feed only occasionally, no more than 2-3 times per week, in moderate 1-2 cup serving sizes to avoid issues.

– Introduce slowly and carefully watch for any signs of digestive upset or reaction.

– Cut watermelon into small pieces and supervise eating to prevent choking.

– Do not replace balanced daily feed or forage with watermelon or other fruits.

– Only feed the red fruit interior – never seeds, rinds, vines, leaves, etc.

– Adjust serving sizes and frequency for young, senior, or metabolically sensitive horses as needed.

Overall, watermelon can be a safe and nutritious occasional treat for most horses when fed carefully and in moderation. Following proper feeding guidelines will allow both you and your horse to enjoy sharing this juicy, refreshing summer fruit.


Watermelon is a fruit that many horse owners consider sharing with their equine companions, especially during the summer months when it’s in peak season. As we’ve discussed in detail throughout this article, horses can safely eat watermelon and enjoy it as an infrequent treat in modest serving sizes. Watermelon provides some beneficial nutrition in the form of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, its high sugar and water content mean it should not make up a substantial part of a horse’s diet. By feeding only small amounts occasionally, paying close attention to serving guidelines, introducing new foods slowly, monitoring for any adverse reactions, and always pairing treats with a balanced ration of hay, feed, and fresh water, both horses and their owners can feel good about enjoying some of this refreshing, juicy fruit together. Within appropriate parameters, watermelon can be a tasty way to provide horses with a cool, hydrating snack on a hot summer’s day.