- No, your dog should not eat lemons — While the flesh of the lemon is technically safe, the rind and juice are toxic.
- Many dogs react negatively to the taste of lemons — Dogs naturally avoid bitter-tasting foods.
- Eating lemons can cause gastric issues — Always call your vet if your dog displays symptoms like lethargy, vomiting, or shaky legs.
Why are lemons bad for dogs?
While there are many human foods that dogs can safely eat, lemons are not among them. Any nutritional value that pets may get from the fruit is not worth the risk of consuming its toxic compounds.
Lemon peels contain essential oils and chemical compounds called psoralens. These can be highly toxic to dogs in large quantities, resulting in diarrhea and vomiting. Steer clear of lemon juice as well, as the excessive citric acid can lead to upset stomach and other gastric issues. The fruit of the lemon is technically safe for dogs in small doses, so an accidental lick is fine. However, many canines will reject the sour and bitter taste of lemons on instinct.
Why do dogs react strongly to lemons?
Like humans, animals also possess the four basic tastes of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Simply put, a dog’s sense of taste developed to where certain tastes — like bitterness — are indicators that a substance is harmful, rotten, or even poisonous.
Because the acidic fruit is both sour and bitter, lemons often causes dogs to have a strong reaction and refuse to eat them. The same applies to limes, which are also not a good choice for dogs. This is why many deterrent products to correct certain behaviors like excessive chewing will have a bitter taste.
Symptoms of lemon toxicity
In a perfect world, our pups would naturally avoid foods that are bad for them. While many animals avoid lemons, a full lemon or more might end up in your dog’s stomach. If your dog overdoes it, digestive upset or more serious health issues could occur. This is particularly true when they consume lemon peels, leaves, or stems. Keep an eye out for the following toxicity symptoms:
- Vomiting. We all know how to clean up vomit after it happens, but dog owners should be alert to the signs that it might happen. If your dog starts drooling, retching, or having abdominal contractions, vomiting may be next.
- Lethargy. If your dog suddenly chooses to lay down versus playing with their favorite toy, this could be a sign of distress. Watch out for a lack of interest in other activities they love like walking.
- Weakness. You’ll be able to quickly identify if your dog starts to struggle during normal activities. Canines experiencing weakness may collapse suddenly, take longer to stand up, or experience shaky muscles.
- Diarrhea. One of the messiest and most obvious symptoms, diarrhea is always an indicator of gastrointestinal distress. Uncontrollable bowel movements and loose, watery, or excessive stools are telltale signs.
- Unusual light sensitivity. If your dog starts displaying discomfort when opening their eyes when out for a daytime walk or sitting by the window, their eyes could be irritated. With lighter eyes — in people and canines alike — light sensitivity is somewhat normal due to a lack of pigmentation. But if your dog is showing a sudden increase in sensitivity it can indicate a more severe case of poisoning.
🚨 Seek medical attention from a veterinarian ASAP if you notice your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms after ingesting lemons.
Alternatives to lemons for dogs
Though lemons aren’t good for dogs, there are lots of healthy fruits and vegetables that are safe choices. What’s better than a snack for you and one for your furry friend too?
- Seedless watermelons. Watermelon is one of the perfect fruits for cooling off, especially during hotter months. Your dog benefits from the high water content in watermelons, providing instant hydration. They are also jam-packed with nutrients like vitamins A, B6, and C, but make sure to keep it seedless. Watermelon seeds and rinds can be toxic.
- Blueberries. Blueberries are a great healthy treat for dogs. They contain antioxidants, minerals, and plenty of dietary fiber, all of which offer health benefits to your pet. The low calories and small size of blueberries also make them perfect to use for training treats.
- Apples. While certainly no substitute for scheduled dental cleanings with your veterinarian, apples are excellent for your dog’s teeth. The firm yet malleable texture helps clean teeth. Plus, apples are rich in fiber. Remove the seeds or at least make sure they only have very small amounts before giving apple slices to your dog.
- Green beans. Vegetables are great to add to your dog’s diet, with green beans being a good low-calorie option. Green beans are a great source of vitamin C, plus they offer a source of protein. Just keep the green beans as plain as possible instead of feeding high-sodium canned varieties or those with added seasoning.
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Frequently asked questions
What happens if a dog eats a lemon?
If dogs eat the fruit, they may sinply react to the sour taste and spit it out. If they digest the skin, leaves, or stem of the citrus fruit, it may lead to digestive issues like diarrhea or vomiting.
Can I give my dog a piece of lemon?
While you can give your dog a small bit of lemon, they likely won’t enjoy it. Due to a dog’s instinct to stay away from anything bitter, you may want to consider a safer and tastier fruit like watermelon, apple, bananas, mangos, or even oranges. In any instance, you’ll always want to avoid giving your dog large amounts of lemon.
Can I put lemon juice in my dog’s water?
No! We may enjoy lemonade but our pets will not. There is no beneficial reason to put lemon in your dog’s water as the juice contains harmful citric acid. High amounts of citric acid are known to cause stomach issues in canines and lemon seeds are another potential issue.
What type of fruit is bad for dogs?
Aside from these citrus fruits, some of the worst fruits for dogs include cherries, peaches, and plums. Cherry pits consist of the poison cyanide. Peaches and plums contain pits that can cause obstructions within the bowels. As a rule of thumb, be careful with any fruit that contains a pit. Go for seedless options when feeding fruit to dogs.