Lemons are common in many households and are used for everything from marinating meats to garnishing your water glass. They’re one of the most popular citrus fruits, but can dogs have lemons?
The answer is no. Dogs should not eat lemon because the fruit offers little nutritional value and may be harmful in large amounts. If your dog sneaks a small amount of lemon off the kitchen table, they’ll probably be fine — but large quantities can be dangerous, and you definitely don’t want to give your dog lemon on purpose.
Here’s the good news: Most dogs will be turned off by the sour smell and bitter taste of lemon, so they’re not likely to eat this fruit. Still, plenty of dogs will eat just about anything, so it’s best to be vigilant.
Keep reading to learn more about why lemons aren’t good for dogs, what kind of symptoms lemons can cause, and what fruits are a better option for your pooch.
Why Shouldn’t Dogs Eat Lemon?
Lemons are good for humans because they contain nutrients like potassium, antioxidants, and Vitamin C, all of which offer health benefits. So, wouldn’t it stand to reason that dogs can have lemons and gain nutritional value from them, too?
No. Lemons pose too much risk, and our canine friends don’t get much nutritional value from this fruit anyway.
Why exactly are lemons bad for dogs? It’s because they contain the following:
- Citric acid: The lemon’s citric acid can cause an upset stomach when your pet eats too much of it. If a significant amount is ingested, it can even result in central nervous system depression.
- Psoralens: A chemical compound that occurs naturally in lemons, psoralen can be toxic to dogs in large amounts and is likely to cause diarrhea or vomiting.
Note that all parts of the lemon can prove dangerous for dogs. That includes the flesh of the fruit, the lemon peel or rind, the pith (the white fibrous segment beneath the peel), and even the leaves and bark of the lemon plant. And dog owners should use caution if lemon trees grow in a yard or garden where dogs could reach them.
What Could Happen if My Dog Eats Lemon?
So, can dogs have lemons? No, it’s not safe. While a tiny bit of a lemon fruit probably won’t cause any adverse side effects, a dog who manages to chow down on a whole lemon or, worse, a lot of lemons at once could experience health problems like:
Drooling is often one of the first signs that a dog has ingested something toxic. Even a small amount of lemon, lemon juice, or lemon essential oils could cause drooling.
Another common sign of danger after a dog has consumed lemons is gastrointestinal distress, including constipation, an upset stomach, or vomiting.
The psoralen in lemon can cause skin problems like rashes and symptoms similar to allergic reactions like itching, hives, and lethargy.
While lemon isn’t likely to cause muscle tremors on its own, plenty of foods made with lemon products could. That’s because foods like lemon cake, sweets, lemon-flavored drinks, and others often contain xylitol.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is very dangerous for pets — it can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and seizures if your dog ingests enough.
Whole lemons and even pieces of lemon can be a choking hazard for many dogs, especially if your pup is the type to swallow things without chewing them properly.
Even if your dog manages to successfully swallow a whole lemon or piece of lemon without choking, the fruit could get lodged in the gut and cause a dangerous intestinal blockage.
Are There Healthy Fruits for Dogs?
Dogs can’t have lemons, but you might be wondering if they can have other citrus fruits. Unfortunately, just like lemons, other kinds of citrus fruits are also bad for our four-legged friends for the same reasons described above.
Fruits like limes and grapefruit are not safe for dogs. And tiny bits of fruits like oranges, tangerines, and clementines are only safe when fed properly and in very small amounts.
If you share human foods with your pup, it’s safest to stay away from citrus. But that doesn’t mean all fruits are bad for dogs. On the contrary — some fruits are good for your dog’s health and can be used as dog treats or mixed into your dog’s food. Examples include:
- Blueberries: Considered a “superfood” for humans, blueberries also offer plenty of nutrients that a dog needs, including powerful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Blackberries: Blackberries contain Vitamins A, C, and K, plus antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. (Tip: Try Native Pet’s Omega Oil if you want to incorporate more omega-3 into your dog’s diet!)
- Watermelon: Watermelon is chock-full of vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids, and its high water content helps keep your dog hydrated.
- Pineapple: Pineapple contains essential vitamins like thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin, plus healthy minerals like manganese.
- Mango: In moderation, mango offers dogs healthy nutrients like potassium, calcium, beta carotene, and Vitamins C and B6, among others.
- Pears: Pears offer fiber, Vitamins A, C, and K, and potassium to our dogs and can serve as a good snack in small amounts.
Of course, you’ll want to pay close attention and feed these fruits to your dog in the right way to make sure it’s safe. Remember, too much of any new food can upset a dog’s stomach and digestive system. In addition, the tough skin or rind of many fruits can cause choking or intestinal blockages.
If you’d like to learn more about what fruits dogs can and can’t eat, check out our helpful guide to ensure you’re giving Fido healthy options.
Or, if you’d rather avoid fruits and give your dog treats made specifically for them, try Native Pet’s Yak Chews. These hard chews are easy to digest, last longer than your average chew, and contain lots of protein.
Yes or No: Can Dogs Have Lemons?
Can dogs have lemons? No. All parts of the lemon can be dangerous for dogs because this fruit contains citric acid and psoralens, compounds that aren’t good for dogs. Remember that other citrus fruits like limes and grapefruit can also cause issues and shouldn’t be fed to dogs.
Pet parents should watch out for common symptoms of lemon toxicity, such as drooling, gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and skin rashes. Additionally, muscle tremors could indicate your dog ate a lemon-flavored food or product containing xylitol. Plus, whole lemons and large pieces of lemon could cause choking or intestinal blockage.
Most citrus fruits are off-limits for dogs, but not all fruit is bad. Ask your vet about feeding your dog fruits like blueberries, blackberries, watermelon, pineapple, mango, or pears if you’d like to give your pet a sweet and fruity treat without the risk.
Looking for more insights into your dog’s diet, health, and wellness needs? Visit the Native Pet blog.