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Can Horses Eat Watermelon Rinds? What are the Benefits?

Last updated: December 28, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

Did you know that the often-discarded watermelon rind could be a treasure trove of nutrients for your horse? As horse enthusiasts, we’re always looking for ways to enrich our equine friends’ diets with healthy, natural treats.

This article examines this surprising yet delightful discovery: horses can not only eat watermelon rinds, but these rinds also offer a host of benefits. From being a rich source of fiber and potassium to providing essential amino acids, watermelon rinds are more than just a refreshing snack.

Join me, a long-time horse owner and watermelon lover, to explore the nutritional advantages of feeding watermelon rinds to horses, along with tips on how to safely incorporate this treat into their diet. So, can horses eat watermelon rinds?

Picture of cut up watermelon rinds for horse treats.
Cut watermelon rinds for horse treats.

What Benefits Do Horses Get From Watermelon Rind?

Throughout the summer, we enjoy an abundance of locally grown watermelons, a favorite treat for both us and our horses. Curious about the potential health benefits for our equine friends, I delved into the nutritional value of watermelon rinds.

Surprisingly, these rinds are not just a refreshing snack but a powerhouse of nutrients. They are packed with fiber, potassium, and amino acids and are also a good source of vitamins A, B6, and C. This makes watermelon rinds a heart-healthy option for both humans and horses.

The rind, encompassing the white portion between the melon’s pink flesh and green skin, serves as a protective layer for the juicy fruit inside and is equally beneficial. Feeding horses watermelon rinds turns out to be a delightful way to utilize the whole fruit and boost their diet with essential nutrients.

Horses get fiber from watermelon rinds.

As a general rule, at least fifty percent of horses’ daily food intake should be fiber. Horses commonly get fiber from hay and grass. Adult horses do well eating a diet of only fiber when not being worked.

However, horses that are worked perform better with a supplement of grain feed, for example, racehorses in training. Sweet feeds provide fat and sugar, which converts into quick sources of energy. Fiber is converted into energy in a horse through a fermentation process.

The flora in a horse’s gut converts fiber into volatile fatty acids that the horse absorbs. Fiber is critical to the horses’ well-being. Without fiber in a horse’s system, food particulars don’t move efficiently through the horse’s gut and could result in dehydration, colic, and laminitis.

Fiber is the energy source for a horse’s ordinary body functions like breathing, walking, grazing, and sleeping. Supplementing a horse’s diet with grain is ok, but the fiber is vital to a horse’s well-being.

Horses get potassium from watermelon.

Horses get potassium from forage, hay, and grass. Watermelon rind also provides potassium. Horses need potassium for their physiological well-being.

Horses lose potassium when sweating and when they urinate. When a horse sweats excessively and eats a low-forage diet, it’s at risk of suffering a potassium deficiency, resulting in serious physical ailments.

Muscle weakness, fatigue, decreased appetite, and exercise intolerance are indications a horse has a deficiency of potassium. The best remedy for horses with low potassium is access to fresh grass, equine electrolytes, and watermelon rind.

Picture of horses eating watermelon rinds.
Horses eating watermelons

Horses get amino acids from watermelon rinds.

Watermelon rind provides the amino acid citrulline. Citrulline converts to arginine in the horse’s body. Arginine produces nitric oxide used to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow to particular areas.

It is also credited with lowering blood pressure, promoting vascular health, combating fatigue, stimulating the immune system, fighting cancer, and helping in muscle growth and wound healing.

The Journal of Animal Science has an interesting article about citrulline, arginine, and nitric oxide in horses. Watermelon rind provides tremendous nutritional value to a horse’s diet.

How Much Watermelon Rind Should You Feed a Horse Eat?

Our grandchildren are still young, and they love throwing watermelon rinds over the fences to our horses. But is there a limit to how much they should eat?

It would be best if you did not feed your horse more than about two cups of watermelon rind per day. I don’t know of any scientific studies, but I have fed our horses this amount without any issues.

When feeding a horse watermelon rind, cut the rind into small cubes. The small pieces are less likely to get lodged in the horse’s throat and choke him.

Feeding horses rinds is a two-for-one benefit: you eat more delicious watermelon, and the horse gets a sweet, healthy treat. Horses also like the fleshy part of the watermelon, leaving a little on the rind for a bonus.

Watermelon Facts:

Watermelons are full of vitamins and nutrients and low in calories. Here are some quick facts about watermelons:

  • Watermelons take approximately three months to grow;
  • Seedless watermelons have been around since the early 1970s;
  • The scientific name for watermelon is Citrullus Lantus
  • Watermelons are in the same botanical family as cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash;
  • The internal cracks in the flesh of watermelons are called Hollow Hearts and are often the sweetest;
  • A watermelon only has 50 calories per cup;
  • A watermelon is over 90 percent water.
  • Watermelon is fat-free and has zero cholesterol.

Can Horses Eat Honeydew Melon Rind?

Honeydew melon is another popular melon many people enjoy eating. So is it best to throw honeydew melon rinds in the garbage, or can they be repurposed as a horse treat.

Horses can eat cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and watermelon rinds. Just remember to always wash the outside of the melons before feeding them to your horse.

Melons often are sprayed with pesticides in the fields. Pesticides are the chemicals used on vegetables and fruit to prevent insects and infections. Eating even small amounts of pesticides can cause chronic physical problems over time.

Picture of my horse grazing.
My horse grazing outside our barn.

Can a Horse Eat Lettuce?

We often start the week with a trip to the grocery store. Inevitably, we buy more lettuce than we consume. So is it okay to feed some to our horses?

Horses can eat lettuce, and they love it. It is a healthy snack, full of water, and easy to digest. How much lettuce should you feed your horse? That depends on what else he is getting in his diet. But feeding two pounds per day is okay for a horse on a standard diet.

Can a Horse Eat Chocolate?

Chocolate candy is often in kids’ hands, and when they get close to a horse, they often extend their arms and offer the horse a bite. Is it ok to share a piece of chocolate with your horse?

Horses shouldn’t eat chocolate. Chocolate is a delicious indulgence for humans, but it is not safe for horses. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical horses can’t metabolize. Horses allowed to eat chocolate will have a dangerous build-up of theobromine in their system.

Some people insist it’s fine to feed a small amount to a horse. But why risk feeding chocolate when there are so many healthy treats your horse loves?

An interesting fact about chocolate and racehorses: Feeding racehorses chocolate results in a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs. Theobromine is a controlled substance in horse racing.

Picture of a pineapple.

Can Horses Eat Pineapple?

We don’t grow pineapples locally, but we sure enjoy eating them. After cutting up a pineapple, with typically have a fair amount of the skin left over. I wonder if it is okay to feed this to the horses.

Horses can eat pineapples. Pineapples are a good source of vitamin C and provide hydration. But don’t just throw a whole pineapple over the fence for your horse. First, cut up the pineapple the same way you would for yourself; remove the skin and core, then dice the fleshy inside.

Can Dogs Eat Watermelon Rinds?

Yes, a dog can eat watermelon rinds. Dogs reap the same benefits from watermelon rinds that horses derive. However, because of the texture of the skin, it could choke a dog. Cut up the rind in small pieces to prevent choking.

Always remember to wash the exterior of the melon before feeding it to any animal. If you don’t feel like cutting up the rind, give your dog some of the soft flesh from the melon; it’s a good source of hydration and vitamins.

Do Birds like Watermelon Rinds?

Yes, most birds like watermelon rinds, crows especially. Try breaking up the skin into small pieces and scatter in an area where birds congregate. The birds will devour most of the white portion relatively quickly. I have read that some bird species don’t like rinds. Not all animals are the same.

Remember to always wash the outer surface of the melon before feeding it to any animal.

Do Rabbits Eat Watermelon Rinds?

Yes, for all the reasons watermelon rinds benefit horses, they apply as well to a rabbit’s diet. But rabbits are small animals, and they can only take in small-sized pieces.

Feed one tablespoon-sized portion per two pounds of body weight of the rabbit. Use a peeler to scrape the skin off the watermelon’s outer surface and feed it to the rabbit. By providing small pieces of the skin, you reduce the risk of the rabbit choking.

Do Squirrels Eat Watermelon Rinds?

Yes, squirrels love nuts, vegetables, and fruit. They will eat almost any variety of fruit, and for watermelons, this includes the rind. The squirrels’ love of fruits and vegetables makes them a farmer’s nightmare.

Below is a video showing a person feeding watermelon to her Friesian horses.

YouTube video

Conclusion: Can Horses Eat Watermelon Rinds?

Watermelon rinds are not only a safe treat for your horse but also a nutritious addition to their diet. Rich in fiber, potassium, vitamins, and amino acids, these rinds can contribute positively to your horse’s health. Remember to feed them in moderation and always ensure they are clean and cut into small, manageable pieces.

I encourage you to try introducing watermelon rinds into your horse’s diet and observe the benefits firsthand. Share your experiences and join the conversation with fellow horse enthusiasts by commenting below or on our social media platforms. Let’s continue exploring healthy, natural treats for our equine companions together!

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