When considering suitable dog treats, lemons are certainly not the first thought. And in fact, dogs tend not to be fans of citrus fruits. But dogs will often eat anything they find, even lemons. Is this problematic, or can dogs tolerate lemons?
Even though lemons are not toxic to dogs, the citric acid, essential oils, and psoralen they contain still make them unsuitable and can cause health problems. Moreover, dogs do not like the bitter taste of lemons.
Even though lemons contain a lot of vitamin C, it does not mean they are healthy for dogs or taste good. There are more suitable fruits that dogs like to eat and that do not harm them, including watermelon and strawberries.
In this article, we’ll discuss what happens, why lemons are unsuitable for dogs, and what can happen if your dog steals a piece of lemon.
Are Lemons Suitable for Dogs?
Lemons are not healthy for dogs, so they are not suitable. Even though they are a good source of vitamin C and fiber for humans, they can cause health problems in dogs.
This is true for every part of the lemon and the lemon plant, i.e., the peel, the white fibrous pith under the peel, the edible pulp, and the leaves and bark.
The pulp of the lemon is not toxic to dogs as long as they eat only a tiny amount. However, most dogs find it unpleasant.
Still, lemons are not harmless if your dog eats many of them.
Why Are Lemons Bad for Dogs?
From the dog’s point of view, the worst thing about lemons is that they taste bad. However, for you as an owner, this is not the only reason why you should not give your dog lemons.
Lemons contain citric acid, essential oils, and psoralens, a plant-based defense against insects and fungal infections. These substances are all known to make dogs sick.
Other citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits, also contain these substances and are, therefore, just as unsuitable for dogs.
What Happens When Dogs Eat Lemons?
Most dogs that eat a small amount of lemons will not have any symptoms. However, dogs often feel unwell after eating a lot of lemons, although they rarely do so voluntarily.
However, each dog reacts differently to different ingredients. Therefore, even a tiny piece of lemon may cause your dog to feel unwell.
Knowing what symptoms to look out for will help you take your dog to the vet if they have an adverse reaction.
Some of the possible symptoms that dogs develop when they react badly to eating lemons include:
- Intestinal blockage
- Skin problems
Let’s now look at each of these symptoms and why they may occur.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Lemon’s citric acid and citrus oils can irritate your dog’s stomach. These substances are contained in the pulp and peel.
Your dog’s symptoms will usually be mild, depending on how much lemon he has eaten. The more he eats, the more pronounced they will be. In dogs with sensitive intestines, the symptoms are usually more severe.
Vomiting and diarrhea may improve independently if they are not too severe.
Give the dog small, mild meals such as scrambled or boiled eggs, plain rice, or chicken breast, and make sure he drinks enough water.
However, do not wait more than 24 hours before asking your veterinarian for help if the digestive problems do not improve.
Dogs with diarrhea can become severely dehydrated and feel unwell without proper treatment. If your dog does not eat or drink at all or is very quiet, you should see your veterinarian sooner.
Intestinal Blockage Or Choking
Because of their round shape and bright yellow color, you might think that lemons might be a good dog toy. However, they aren’t.
If you think a dog can’t swallow an entire lemon, you’d be surprised what dogs can swallow.
So be extra careful where you keep your lemons at home, as they look like an exciting toy to most dogs.
Not only does a whole lemon or large amounts of lemon peel pose a choking hazard, but if your dog swallows it in one piece, it can also get stuck in the intestines.
Dogs with intestinal blockage often vomit, are lethargic, don’t eat, don’t defecate, and have abdominal pain.
If intestinal blockage is not treated quickly, dogs can also die. So call your veterinarian if you think the dog has swallowed lemon peel.
Dogs treated quickly for intestinal blockage are more likely to survive and recover faster.
Some of the chemicals in lemons, such as the essential oils, can make dogs sleepy if they ingest them in large quantities.
The essential oils are found in high concentrations, especially in the lemon peel and leaves.
In the worst-case scenario, dogs can shake, drool, and have trouble walking. However, they would have to eat a lot of lemons for this to happen before such symptoms of essential oil poisoning show up.
The plant defense compound psoralen can cause skin reactions if your dog eats lemons. If the dog is exposed to the sun, his skin may become inflamed, and painful spots and scabs may develop.
However, dogs should not be in the blazing sun for too long anyway, even if they have not eaten lemons.
Can Dogs Eat Lemon-Flavored Foods?
Aside from the lemons themselves, you should not give your dog any lemon-flavored foods or drinks either.
Although they are usually delicious to humans and probably dogs as well, throwing them a treat or two from the table will do them more harm than good. We are talking about things such as:
- Lemon cake
- Lemon juice
- Lemon ice cream
- Lemon jelly
- Lemon jam
But why exactly are such foods not suitable for dogs? There are several reasons for this, which we would now like to take a closer look at.
Sugar and Fats
Aside from the fact that dogs could get sick from citric acid, oils, and psoralens, sweet desserts, and fruity drinks contain a lot of sugar and fat.
However, too much sugar and fat are not healthy for dogs in any form. They can cause dogs to gain weight and develop diabetes, tooth decay, gingivitis, heart and blood pressure problems, and arthritis.
You should provide a healthy diet to protect your dog from such problems and diseases.
Desserts advertised as sugar-free should at least fix the sugar problem, shouldn’t they? Unfortunately, no, because dogs should never be given such sugar-free desserts.
Sugar-free desserts may contain the sweetener xylitol. Xylitol is toxic and very dangerous to dogs; even a tiny amount can be fatal.
When dogs ingest xylitol, their blood sugar levels drop dangerously. Then seizures, coma, and, in the worst case, death can occur.
Don’t take the risk if you don’t know if something you’re eating contains xylitol. Instead, give your dog a tasty, dog-friendly treat.
Salt is often added to savory dishes, such as pickled salted lemons.
Too much salt can make your dog drink the water bowl dry and may lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, or salt poisoning. Salt poisoning can cause tremors, stomach upset, and seizures.
In general, always give your dog plenty of fresh water. And if you notice him drinking more or less than usual, talk to your veterinarian.
Dogs’ drinking habits can change frequently, and many possible causes must be investigated.
Are There Other Dangers of Lemons for Dogs?
Some dogs are not picky about the taste of lemons and may even like them.
Therefore, be careful when using cleaning products around your dog, as many of them smell like lemon and may be tempting to your dog if he likes lemons.
Dogs can’t always tell the difference between what they should and shouldn’t put in their mouths. As a result, they are always at risk of harm.
Dogs can get serious health problems if they lick or swallow cleaning products. If this happens, you should see your vet immediately.
Summary: Are Dogs Allowed to Eat Lemons?
Not only are lemons bitter and, therefore, usually not tasty to dogs, but they also contain large quantities of citric acid, essential oils, and psoralenes, which are unsuitable for your dog’s health.
When dogs eat lemons, they may experience vomiting or diarrhea. They could choke if they eat the lemon peel, get an intestinal blockage, become lethargic, or develop skin sores.
As a dog owner, you are responsible for protecting your dog from harm. Therefore, keep your lemons out of your dog’s reach.
If you think your dog has eaten a lemon, tell your veterinarian what happened. The veterinarian can help and reassure you or provide treatment if needed.