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Food & Diet

Are Lemons Safe for Dogs? Here’s What You Should Know

At A Glance

Lemons are citrus fruits that are rich in vitamins and minerals, but they can be harmful to your dogs. It contains some chemicals that can damage the liver and cause gastroenteritis. Here’s what you should know:

  • Lemon fruit, skin, and rind have chemicals that are toxic to dogs.
  • The high citric acid content in lemons can upset your pet’s stomach, cause diarrhea, and even slow down their central nervous system.

Last Updated on: July 3, 2023




It’s always hilarious to see a dog’s scrunched-up face after it has taken a bite of lemon. But before I give you any ideas, ask yourself, “Can dogs eat lemons?”

Lemons in drinks can make the hottest darn day tolerable. Moreover, it doesn’t hurt that they are rich in nutrients and minerals. But they are not good for your dogs.

Lemons can be highly toxic to dogs for the same reasons they are nutritious to humans. It is high in citric acid and has lots of compounds that can seriously deteriorate a dog’s health.

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Are Lemons Good For Dogs?

Certainly not. Though the flesh of the lemon is not necessarily toxic to dogs, the scent and taste can be off-putting. Also, the skin and rind have compounds that can make your dog seriously sick.

Lemons Being A Sour Puss – Why Are Lemons Bad For Dogs?

Can Dogs Eat Lemons - Lemons Being A Sour Puss – Why Are Lemons Bad For Dogs

Aside from the high citric acid content, lemon skin and rind have Limonene, Linalool, and Psoralen, all toxic to dogs.

So can dogs eat lemon rinds? No, again. Limonene, a terpene (a naturally-occurring compound in plants), is found in all citrus fruits. It has insecticidal properties and can be toxic to dogs when digested.

Linalool, a naturally-occuring compound in citrus leaves and fruits, is used in soaps and lotions. It is known to cause liver problems in dogs.

On the other hand, Psoralen, another compound in lemon rinds and skin, makes dogs photosensitive to light.

But is citric acid in lemons bad for dogs? Yes, fruits high in citric acid can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating and stomach upset. It could also cause depression in the central nervous system, which slows down a dog’s cognition and coordination.

Symptoms To Watch For If Your Dog Eats Lemons

When a dog accidentally ingests a lemon, you need to take it to a vet immediately. It could display one of the following symptoms:

Vomiting

High levels of citric acid can irritate your dog’s digestive system and induce vomiting and sensitivity to light.

Diarrhea

The compounds in lemon can also upset the canine stomach. It can make them prone to diarrhea and bloating.

Gut Blockage

If your dog ingests the lemon rind or skin, it can cause gut or intestinal blockage.

Choking

Can Dogs Eat Lemons - Choking

Ingesting lemon skins and rinds could also choke your dog, as they are highly fibrous.

Lethargy

Dogs that have eaten lemon rinds can become lethargic because it could experience mental fatigue.

Muscle Tremors

High amounts of citric acid can affect the central nervous system, causing tremors and weakness.

Skin Problems

Psoralen in lemon skin and rind makes a dog’s skin sensitive to light. This could result in rashes, inflammation, and even loss of fur.

Why Do Dogs Have A Strong Reaction To Lemons?

The scent and taste of lemons are too strong, and dogs are repulsed by it. Dogs generally try to stay away from bitter or sour foods, as these can indicate toxicity.

“Dogs can eat lemons, though they do not eat them voluntarily, as they do not like the pungent citrus smell.” – Dr. Jerry Klein, the Chief Veterinary Officer at American Kennel Club (AKC)

Most citrus fruits have skin and rind that contain limonene and linalool. The scent of these compounds can irritate a dog and also affect its eyes. The acidic and tart taste of lemons are also not palatable to dogs.

Given their insecticidal properties, is lemon juice safe for dog’s skin? Citric acid can be too strong on its skin and fur, but you can mix it with water and spray small amounts to deter fleas and ticks. However, if your dog has an extreme reaction to lemon, it is best not to use it.

What About Lemon-Flavored Food?

Can Dogs Eat Lemons - What About Lemon-Flavored Food

Unfortunately, lemon and lemon-flavored foods are a big no for dogs.

Foods that include lemon juice potentially have a concentrated form of citric acid, which is risky to consume.

Moreover, foods like lemon cake, lemon meringue pie, lemon jam, jelly, or curd can still affect your dog’s health because of the sugar content. It can also contribute to obesity, heart disease, gingivitis, and tooth decay issues.

“Sugar is going to contribute to potential weight gain in your dog and that can lead to other health issues.” – Senior nutritionist Jan Dempsey

Additionally, these processed lemon-flavored foods contain high amounts of salt, too. This can make your dog extremely thirsty and contribute to the risk of salt poisoning. If your furry friend experiences seizures, take it to the vet immediately for a quick checkup.

Can Dogs Eat Other Citrus Fruits?

Yes, the flesh of citrus fruits, like oranges, clementines, and tangerines, are not toxic. However, it’s best to feed these fruits in moderation.

Moreover, the skins and rinds of oranges have the same compounds as those found in lemons, so only serve the fleshy parts of the fruits to your dogs.

Other citrus fruits, like grapefruit, lime, and lemon, are too acidic for a dog’s taste. It’s best to avoid these, as they can be toxic and cause stomach problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dogs Eat Lemons - Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens If A Dog Eats Lemon?

Lemons should not be fed to dogs. Lemons, the skin, and rinds can cause dogs to become sensitive to light, which can affect its eyes and skin.

Moreover, the high citric acid content could make your pet sick and irritate its digestive system. The compounds in lemon skins could also cause diarrhea, vomiting, and bloating.

Can Dogs Lick Lemons?

The fleshy parts of a lemon are not toxic to dogs, and a single lick is not necessarily dangerous. However, the skin and rinds of a lemon have insecticidal properties. Licking these parts could be risky, especially for small dogs.

It’s best not to offer it to your dog even for one lick. Limonene, psoralen, and linalool have properties that can cause discomfort and sickness.

How Many Lemons Can A Dog Eat?

Dogs cannot eat lemons, no matter how small the amount or size. Lemons have a tart flavor that dogs do not find appealing.

Even the fleshy parts of a lemon, which is not toxic to dogs, have high amounts of citric acid, leading to stomach issues and bloating when ingested. The skin and rinds could also choke a dog or cause blockage in the digestive tracts.

How Long Does It Take For Dogs To Digest Lemon Rinds?

Lemon rinds and skin can take a long time to be digested by dogs. Sometimes, it might not be digested at all, causing gut blockage, indigestion, bloating, vomiting and diarrhea.

It could also cause your dog to become lethargic or develop a central nervous depression, making it feel less coordinated and mentally weak. If you think your dog has eaten lemon skin or rinds, take them to a vet immediately.

 

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Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.


Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.