Bitter melon offers a unique taste that every tongue remembers. A Filipino legend narrates that bitter melon resulted from a jealous, “bitter” intent to stand out among all vegetables by robbing all tastes in the garden.
While this may sound true, our belief depends on how we utilize and consume bitter melon through our daily sustenance — especially when we offer it as a treat to our dogs.
Do we have to be bitter in taking care of our dogs? Of course, the answer is absolute no. But, can we offer bitter melon to our dogs? It’s for us to find out!
In a special edition of today’s International Dog Day, we dedicate this article to every dog lover who eagerly takes care of their dog’s health and appetite.
What is Bitter Melon?
Bitter Melon or its scientific name, Momordica charantia, is a plant that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It has been used in various countries as a folk medicine for diabetes treatment and other diseases, such as cancer, HIV infection, psoriasis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
In addition to its medicinal benefits mentioned above, Bitter Melon also contains many good nutrients such as vitamins (A, C, and E), minerals (iron, potassium, and magnesium), or dietary fiber.
Bitter melon can be used for various recipes: stir-fry with garlic and onion; boiled to make soup; added in curry sauce or even ice cream. Nevertheless, some safety considerations still need to be paid attention to when cooking bitter melon.
Food family of Bitter Melon
Bitter melon belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family — known as the gourd family. Other plants in this food family include cucumber, melon, and pumpkin.
The characteristics observable among the Cucurbitaceae are the thin and long stems, which its leaves are round or heart-shaped. In addition, the family shares distinctive flowers, mostly with five petals in various colors, such as yellow, orange, and red.
Today, you may see the Cucurbitaceae family as a good source of vegetables in your daily life. But does it contribute to improving your dog’s health?
Can Dogs Eat Bitter Melon?
The answer is yes.
Bitter melon is safe for dogs to eat, as the plant contains many nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber—for instance, bitter melon sources vitamin A, which dogs need for their eyesight. Additionally, Bitter melon contains potassium that may help your dog maintain a healthy heart and reduce blood pressure levels.
To a further extent, bitter melon contributes positively to your dog’s health, equally effective with melon, zucchini, watermelon, and cucumber.
Bitter melon may taste odd, but the next section suggests the best ways to feed your dogs.
Best Ways to Feed your Dogs with Bitter Melon
Pure or boil bitter melon first before feeding
The first thing to do is washing the fruit thoroughly, then boiling it for 15 minutes before feeding. When boiling bitter melon, make sure that all its seeds are removed as they may be harmful when consumed by dogs. If you choose not to feed your dogs with natural bitter melon, try baking or steaming it first, as it is one of the healthy ways to prepare food for dogs.
It is always recommended to feed your dog from vegetable families moderately — about 25% of their daily diet. It means that the variety they get will benefit them more than eating just one or two vegetables. For this reason, always keep the amount moderate rather than feeding them with too much bitter melon at once.
Match bitter melon with other vegetables
It is recommended to feed your dogs with bitter melon as a pair or mix it up by adding other vegetables, such as green beans and carrots. By doing so will balance the taste of Bitter Melon for your dog’s appetite. And constantly monitor how they react after eating some vegetables, especially if you’re unsure how they will react, just in case any symptoms may occur, such as diarrhea or stomach ache.
Reasons Why Dogs can Eat Bitter Melon
Bitterness is not the unique characteristic that this plant offers. But also, here are benefits why reasons why dogs can eat bitter melon:
Bitter Melon is the best source of Vitamins A, C, and E
Vitamin A, C, and E are essential for dogs as these three vitamins help promote a dog’s immune system function. In addition, vitamin A is suitable for their eyesight. Meanwhile, Vitamin C helps produce collagen in your pets’ skin, while vitamin E can be used by their body cells.
Dietary Fiber Helps Reduce Blood Pressure Level and Kidney Problems
Dietary fiber is a kind of carbohydrate that the body cannot absorb. It is beneficial for your dog due to its ability to reduce blood pressure and help control weight levels. Also, it helps dogs reduce water retention and bloating problems caused by kidney disease or heart failure.
Potassium in Bitter Melon Helps Maintain Healthy Heart
Bitter melon is a great source of potassium, keeping the heart generally beating by controlling how much water is retained in the body. Potassium also controls blood pressure and heart rate by moving sodium out of cells, which reduces extra fluid buildup in tissues.
Possible Concerns When Eating Bitter Melon
But to what extent can your dog eat bitter melon? Here are some indicators to take note of:
Frequent vomiting, diarrhea, and stomachache
Dogs may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and stomachache when they eat bitter melon. There are several reasons this may happen, such as allergic reaction to the food or intolerance of some specific ingredients, which can cause upset stomachs.
Dogs may manifest unexpected seizures due to the high amount of vitamin B in bitter melon. The exact cause is still unknown, but it is recommended not to feed your dogs with too many vegetables from this family as an overdose can be dangerous for them and even worse if they have seizures.
Miscarriage for Pregnant Dogs
If you are pregnant, it is suggested that you should not eat bitter melon due to its effect on babies in the womb. In addition, studies have shown that this fruit can cause miscarriage for pregnant dogs and even affect their health, so it is best not to consume any from this family.
Signs your dog is sick from eating Bitter Melon
Even if your dog finds it sumptuous in eating Bitter Melon, you have to watch over and check its physical and mental well-being. Otherwise, when left overlooked, your dog may experience these unfortunate events:
Loss of Consciousness
If your dog is vomiting or has a stomachache after eating bitter melon, it may cause a loss of consciousness. This can be because this fruit has a high amount of vitamin B, and too much consumption will result in poisoning, which causes them to lose consciousness.
Although rare, dogs may vomit blood if they have an upset stomach after eating bitter melon. This is because too much vitamin B can cause gastrointestinal bleeding in dogs. They may also have internal hemorrhage because this fruit has a high amount of potassium, which usually prevents blood cells from clotting and makes it difficult to stop bleeding if any wound occurs inside their body.
If your dog is panting too fast after eating bitter melon, it may mean that they have a fever or dizziness, which can cause them to feel hot and uncomfortable. This happens because of the high amount of vitamin B in this fruit, as well as potassium.
Dogs will experience excessive thirst due to dry mouth from drinking water if they overeat bitter melon. The cause is because this fruit has a high amount of sodium which causes them to feel thirsty and drink more water than usual to rehydrate their body back into a normal state.
What to do if your dog is sick from eating Bitter Melon?
As dog owners, we may panic and feel alarmed. The best way of responding to this first is to spot the symptoms and learn more about them to know what to do next. We may suggest recording a journal on the severity and persistence of its symptoms.
However, when symptoms persist, then you can contact a veterinarian and seek medical attention. It is best to visit an emergency clinic if your dog has lost consciousness or vomited blood from eating bitter melon or any poisoning caused by gastrointestinal bleeding.
Avoid these similar foods from this family
Squash also belongs to the same family as bitter melon. This is why dogs may experience vomiting, diarrhea and stomachache when they eat this fruit, so it’s best if you avoid feeding them with any from this family, especially those that can cause upset stomachs or gastrointestinal bleeding such as squash.
Dogs should not eat persimmons either as they may manifest vomiting, diarrhea, and stomachache. This is why it is best to avoid feeding them from this family, especially if your dog has a sensitive stomach or can’t resist overeating their favorite fruit at once.
Dogs shouldn’t eat bananas due to the high amount of potassium they carry, which can cause them to have vomiting, diarrhea, and stomachache. This fruit also contains a high level of vitamin B, so it is best if you avoid feeding your dogs with this one as well.
How to Make Bitter Melon Safe To Eat
Winning our dog’s hearts begins with our alternatives on how to make bitter melon safe to eat. If you got no idea how to start, here are some life hacks:
Make a smoothie or juice for your dogs.
Yes, you may create a smoothie or juice by mixing a crushed bitter melon with two cups of fresh watermelon juice and a cup of frozen blueberries or blackberries. You can also add a handful of spinach leaves to increase your dog’s nutritional intake, for this fruit is not only healthy but nutrient-rich too.
Prepare a Bitter Melon Recipe
You may also prepare a bitter melon recipe by adding one cup of chopped Bitter Melon, half of the minced garlic clove, and two tablespoons of butter. You can then cook it in just thirty minutes or until the vegetable is tender before serving it to your dog. Make sure that you remove its seeds first because they are toxic and should never be given to your dog.
Suppose you are planning on feeding your dogs with bitter melon. In that case, we suggest that you do it only once a week because too much of this fruit can cause toxicity due to its high amount of vitamin B and potassium, which is why moderation is essential in giving your dog this fruit.
To recap, bitter melon offers a unique taste and unparalleled benefits, such as being a good source of vitamins and minerals in helping lower down blood pressure, maintaining a healthy heart, and avoiding kidney problems. However, when left overlooked, your dogs may suffer from loss of consciousness, vomiting blood, rapid panting, and feeding table.
Yes, dogs can eat bitter melon. However, balancing your dog’s diet begins with a moderate, adequately prepared, and exact feeding.
Despite our footwear being ripped off, or our pillows getting torn, the love and support we give to our dogs remain the same. Like how the old legend narrates the rough experiences of bitter melon, may we see the beauty of our dogs beyond imperfections.
Written by: Alejandro Corona Jr.