When I was young, my parents were big bitter melon fans. They ate it raw in their salads and even added slices of raw bitter melon to their water. Whenever I asked them why, the answer is always “Bitter melon is good for you.”
Bitter melon can be palatable as a stir-fried dish. I’ve tried letting my dog take a sniff of a raw slice before and I can genuinely say that he wasn’t in the least interested.
But what if you have a dog that has an acquired taste for this vegetable. Can dogs eat bitter melon? Dogs can eat bitter melons without any problems as the vegetable is not toxic to canines. There are some health benefits to eating bitter melon but it has yet to be proven on dogs. However, be careful when eating red bitter melon seeds as they are toxic to both humans and dogs.
In this article, we will be taking a look to see what the fuss is bitter melon all about and if you should let your dog have it as a treat.
What Exactly Is Bitter Melon?
Bitter melon or also affectionately known as bitter gourd is a vegetable that does its name justice. It has a bitter taste and some bitter melon can taste rrreeeeaaalllllyyyy bitter when eaten raw.
This vegetable has better-tasting cousins like squash, pumpkin, zucchini and cucumber. It is widely used in Asian cuisines but is rather popular all around the world.
Bitter melon is high in vitamins A, C and folate. it also contains traces of potassium, iron and zinc. Bitter gourd is also known to be high in antioxidants that help to keep your body strong.
Despite its bitterness, many people swear by it for many of its health benefits.
Helps Fight Against Cancer
There has been some research done on bitter melon extract killing cancer cells in the stomach, lungs and colon.
However, these studies only used the extract of bitter melon which is a very concentrated form. Furthermore, the research was done in a lab and not on actual cancer patients.
Reduces Blood Sugar
Bitter melon has long been known to be effective in the fight against diabetes. A study involving diabetic participants had them taking 2000mg of bitter melon daily which reduced their blood sugar levels.
It is said that bitter melon can improve the way sugar is metabolized in the body. It also helps in the production of insulin which is lacking in diabetics.
Helps With Weight Loss
Bitter melon is low in calories and high fiber. The reason why many doctors and dieticians encourage the consumption of vegetables when losing weight is to add more fiber to the diet.
Fiber is good at absorbing water which makes you feel full faster. It also moves slowly along the intestinal tract which helps to suppress appetite.
There has even been a study that claims eating bitter melon can help to spot reduce belly fat.
Is Bitter Melon Really A Super Food For Dogs?
As a dog owner, it does seem that feeding my dog bitter melon can do wonders for its health especially if my pooch is overweight, has diabetes or cancer.
I for one can’t say that your dog isn’t able to gain from the benefits of bitter melon as humans do. But before I go about feeding my pets something outside of their natural diet for health reasons, I will do a double take at their current diet to see what is lacking.
If you are feeding your dog dry food/kibbles or heaven forbid, free feeding it, that is the worst diet that you can put your dog on.
Dry food is lacking in protein and high in carbs which is the perfect recipe for weight gain in dogs. In fact, more than 50% of the dogs in America are overweight. And one possible health risk for fat dogs in diabetes.
A diet that is high in carbs and sugar will also put your dog at a much higher risk of getting cancer. Dogs are carnivores and only need animal meat to thrive. They can do without any plant matter in their diet.
Once your take away dry food from your dog’s diet and start feeding it good quality canned food or raw meat, you are giving your dog the diet that it was made for.
Yes, I do understand that dogs can still fall ill even on the best of diets but we are talking about probability and prevention here.
Is It Safe To Feed My Dog Bitter Melon?
Yes, it is safe for dogs to have some bitter melon as an occasional treat. Although I can’t imagine any dog actually liking the bitter taste of it.
Even if it does, you can try boiling slices of bitter gourd to take away some of the bitterness better feeding your dog.
For dog owners who have diabetic dogs, it might be better to not feed bitter melon to your dog too often due to its blood sugar reduction properties.
It isn’t safe for diabetic dogs who are already on diabetes medication to regulate their insulin and blood sugar levels.
You do not want to lower your dog’s blood sugar levels to the point of being hypoglycemic as that can be fatal for the dog.
Can Dogs Eat Bitter Gourd Seeds?
If you cut open a bitter melon and noticed that the seeds are red, do not eat that and neither should you feed it to your dog.
Red bitter melon seeds are known to be toxic to both humans and dogs. The red seeds contain a chemical compound that can affect the red blood cells which causes headaches, stomach pain and fever.
It can even be fatal in serious cases.
Is Melon Poisonous To Dogs?
The majority of melons are safe for dogs to eat like watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe and rock melon.
Make sure to remove the skin and seeds before feeding your dog. As such fruits are also very high in simple sugar content (fructose), only feed your dog sparingly as too much sugar is bad for them.
It is also possible for your dog to become addicted to sweet stuff as they are able to taste sweetness.
What Vegetables Dogs Can not Eat?
Most vegetables are generally safe for dogs as long as you keep to the more common ones. However, there are some known vegetables that are known to be toxic to dogs:
The rule of thumb that has served me well is “When in doubt, clarify with the vet or don’t”
If you are giving your dog bitter melon as a treat, that is fine. But if you plan to use it as a health supplement, I would definitely consult the vet before doing so.
Many of the studies were conducted on humans which means that the dosages used will be too high for your dog.
It can end up doing more harm than good for your dog when given large amounts of bitter melon.