Dog Tips

Can Dogs Eat Lemons?

It’s only natural for dog owners to want to share every part of their lives with their precious pooch – including the food they love! Though sharing a human snack with a pup is a sign of love and affection, some dog owners can inadvertently cause harm to their pup if feeding a human food that doesn’t settle well with dogs.

Our dogs are our family, but when it comes to our biology, we are incredibly different from each other. It’s never more important to realize this than when you consider working human foods into your dog’s diet. Or perhaps your dog got into something they shouldn’t have (like a trash bin), and now here you are, wondering if the food scraps they got a hold of will cause any harm.

Certain fresh fruits are safe and even healthy for dogs to eat. When it comes to lemons, dogs can eat them, but it’s not a recommended snack to add to fido’s diet for a variety of reasons.

Feeding a Dog Lemons

Though your dog can technically eat lemons, it’s highly likely they won’t want to. After all, lemons are inherently bitter and tart. From an evolutionary standpoint, dogs stay away from food with a bitter taste, because it could signal the fruit has spoiled.

Even if your dog happily accepts lemon, you shouldn’t make a habit of feeding it regularly. Lemons are super acidic, which can pose serious issues for your dog’s digestive tract. In the wild, ancestors of the dog stay clear of citric fruit trees, such as lemon trees. This is because the roots, bark, and skin of the tree and fruits contain essential oils which can be toxic to dogs.

Risks of Feeding Your Dog Lemons

There are several risks that are important to note when it comes to feeding your dog lemons. First and foremost, dogs won’t gravitate toward the smell or taste of a lemon. Lemons are bitter and sour. Humans develop an acquired taste for sour food over time. Think of the last time you saw a baby try lemon juice – it usually doesn’t go well!

Dogs live by their natural instinct. The inherent instinct toward foods that are bitter, or sour, is to steer clear. This type of flavor profile signals danger to a dog. Unlike humans, dogs will never associate a sour taste with food that is OK to eat.

However, all dogs are different, and some dogs may grow a liking for lemon for whatever reason. Even if your dog shows an interest in the smell of lemon, you should think twice before allowing them to have it as a snack.

Though lemons contain essential vitamins and nutrients, the acidic nature of this fruit negates any health benefits it could have for your dog. Lemons feature components that are highly toxic to dogs if eaten in large qualities. If your dog accidentally gets a hold of a small piece of lemon, it likely will not cause any serious harm. However, a larger portion can make your dog seriously sick.

Health Concerns of Feeding a Dog Lemons

As mentioned, lemons are highly acidic fruits. Lemons contain high volumes of essential oils known as psoralens. These compounds are toxic in large amounts.

These toxic compounds are found in the skin of the fruit, so if your dog eats a bit of flesh or juice, there is little cause for concern. If your dog has eaten a large amount of lemon juice or flesh, it is likely adverse effects will occur and a visit to the vet might be in order.

However, if your dog accidentally gets a hold of lemon skin or rind, you should call your vet immediately. Monitor your pet for any signs of poisoning. Poisoning from lemon skin and/or rinds in dogs is common. The compounds found in lemon skin are near impossible for dogs to digest and can cause an array of health issues that need to be addressed quickly.

When it comes to poisoning, the effects will be apparent almost immediately. In the case your dog has only eaten a small portion of lemon rind, you will likely notice more moderate symptoms, such as diarrhea or vomiting.

If your dog has eaten a larger portion of lemon skin, more serious side effects can occur. Side effects of more severe poisoning from lemons can include lethargy, poor circulation, light sensitivity, skin irritation, excessive panting, difficulty standing or walking, tremors, diarrhea, vomiting, and collapsing. If left untreated, severe poisoning is life-threatening.

These symptoms are serious and scary, but this type of poisoning is rare. The reason being is that dogs naturally steer clear of lemons. They do not desire to eat lemon when they come across it, due to its sour scent.

Can Dogs Ingest Lemon Juice or Lemonade?

The short answer is no. There is no nutritional benefit to lemon juice. Drinks like lemonade have tons of added sugars which can upset your dog’s GI tract and more. Dogs will likely recoil at the mere smell of lemon juice due to its strong and sour odor, anyways.

Can Dogs Eat Limes?

After learning about the dangers of feeding your dog lemons, you may now wonder about limes, which have a lot of similar qualities to lemons. Your dog should never be fed limes or lime juice.

Just as with lemons, limes have a high citric acid content which is upsetting to a dog’s digestive system. Most dogs will not gravitate toward limes because of their bitter smell and taste. However, some dogs might grow a liking to limes for whatever reason. This does not mean it is safe for them to eat.

The high acid content in limes makes it dangerous for dogs to ingest. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other undesirable effects.

Are Other Citrus Fruits Bad for Dogs?

Being that citric acid is the main culprit in why lemons and limes are not healthy snacks for dogs, you may wonder about other fruits with high citrus content. Generally, any fruit that is especially tart or sour should be kept away from our canine companions. Grapefruit is highly acidic and should never be offered to a dog.

What Fruits Are Safe for Dogs?

Luckily, there are plenty of fruits that are safe and healthy for dogs as an occasional treat. Safe fruits for dogs include sweet potatoes, bananas, melon, oranges, blueberries, pumpkin, apple, kiwi, cantaloupe, cherries, and papaya.


Lemons are not safe to feed your dog. Although they contain lots of essential vitamins and nutrients, their high acidic content makes them undesirable. Dogs’ GI tracts are more sensitive than ours. Plus, the essential oil compounds found in lemon skin and rinds are extremely toxic to dogs. All in all, lemons should be avoided.

The same goes for other highly acidic fruits like limes and grapefruit. The bitter, sour smell and taste of these fruits are enough to steer most dogs away completely. So, it is rare that dogs get a hold of a citric fruit on their own. However, if you believe your dog has eaten the skin of a lemon or lime on accident, it’s important to monitor their behavior closely and contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.


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