Can Dogs Eat That

Can Dogs Eat Lemons? The Surprising Dangers to Watch Out For

can dogs eat lemons

If you’re a dog owner who loves citrusy fresh scents and flavors, you might have wondered—can my pup safely enjoy a zesty lemon treat, too? The answer may surprise you. While lemons seem like harmless, tasty fruits, they actually pose some serious risks for our four-legged friends. Let’s take a closer look at why lemons are bad for dogs and what to do if your furry pal accidentally ingests one.

Related: Can Dogs Eat Pineapple?

Why Do Dogs Have a Strong Reaction to Lemons? 

First, let’s talk about taste. Dogs generally despise anything bitter or sour, and lemons pack a powerful punch of both flavors. Their extremely keen sense of smell and taste means they’re hardwired to find lemons unappetizing and avoid them. So, chances are, your dog won’t even want to eat a lemon in the first place. 

But what if they do somehow manage to sneak a slice or two? That’s where things can get dangerous. Lemons contain a few key compounds that are outright toxic to dogs.

four lemon fruits forming straight line on a white background

The Toxic Lemon Components to Watch Out For

Citric Acid

This is what gives citrus fruits their mouth-puckering sourness. While humans can handle citric acid just fine, too much can cause nasty gastrointestinal issues for dogs, like vomiting, diarrhea, and even central nervous system depression.


You know that fresh, zesty aroma when you peel an orange? That’s limonene, a toxic terpene also found in lemons. Ingesting these terpenes may lead to toxicity, liver damage, and even liver failure.

person slicing lemon on wooden chopping board


Another toxic terpene that gives citrus its floral scent, linalool is often used in soaps and lotions. But when dogs eat it from a lemon, it can also wreak havoc on their liver function long-term.  


This compound causes photosensitivity, so eating lemons may make your dog’s skin and eyes more vulnerable to burning or irritation from sunlight exposure.

Those are the key lemon offenders, but the high sugar content also isn’t great for dogs either. Too much can lead to obesity, dental issues, and other complications.


The Signs of Lemon Poisoning in Dog

So what happens if your curious canine does eat a dangerous amount of lemon? Lemon poisoning can manifest in many ways, so keep an eye out for these concerning symptoms:

– Rash, skin irritation, or photosensitivity

– Vomiting, diarrhea, drooling

– Weakness, drowsiness, tremors

– Loss of coordination, collapse

– Low blood pressure 

– Nervous system depression (confusion, loss of consciousness)

If you notice any of those worrying signs, don’t wait – call your vet immediately. Lemon poisoning needs prompt treatment to prevent lasting liver or neurological damage.

emons inside a wooden crate

Are Other Citrus Fruits Harmful for Dogs?

Lemons aren’t the only citrus fruit off-limits for dogs. You’ll want to keep limes, grapefruits, and their juices and oils far away from your pup as well since they contain many of the same toxic compounds found in lemons. 

Even just diffusing lemon or other citrus essential oils around your home can be unpleasant for dogs with their incredible sense of smell. The intense citrus aroma is naturally repulsive and irritating for canines.

sliced oranges and lemons

Two More Citrus Hazards for Dogs

1) Citrus Plant Toxicity – It’s not just the fruit that’s dangerous. All parts of the lemon tree itself – leaves, branches, roots – contain highly concentrated levels of toxic terpenes and oils. Letting your dog chew on any part of a lemon tree can quickly lead to poisoning.

2) Citrus Cleaner Residue – Be very careful using lemon-scented cleaners or disinfectants around the house, especially on surfaces your dog may lick or lay on. Ingesting or absorbing those chemicals can irritate their skin and mucous membranes.  

finnish lapphund on wooden floor

The Safest Policy? Keep Lemons Out of Paw’s Reach

Lemons definitely aren’t a healthy, dog-friendly treat despite their refreshing appeal to humans. The risks of poisoning, liver damage, and other toxic effects simply aren’t worth it. 

Your furry pal will be much happier and safer sticking to dog-approved fruits like blueberries, bananas, or watermelon for the occasional snack. Or try some tasty pet store treats instead – no citrus required! With so many dog-safe options out there, it’s best to keep lemons and other citrus firmly out of paw’s reach.

woman sitting on wooden floor with her dog

So the next time life hands you lemons, definitely don’t make lemonade for your dog! Whip up a batch of homemade pup-sicles or bake some tasty dog biscuits instead. Your furry BFF deserves nothing but the zest – er, best!


About Judith D. Swan

With a passion for pooch health and nutrition, I've dedicated myself to exploring every "Can dogs eat...?" scenario you can imagine. With a background in veterinary science and years of experience in the pet care industry, I bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. From the common to the curious, I've researched it all to ensure that your canine companion gets the best possible care. But hey, I'm not just about facts and figures. As a proud dog parent myself, I understand the bond between humans and their four-legged pals. That's why I'm committed to providing trustworthy, practical advice that keeps both tails wagging.