Can Dogs Eat Lemon?

They're wonderfully sour, they work great in a variety of dishes, and they're healthy, too. What magical food seems to have so many purposes and is beneficial to humans?

Scruffy dog  looking at lemon on grass
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Lemons. This fruit is great for people, but what about dogs? Do dogs like the taste? If so, are they even good for dogs?

Let's examine whether or not lemons are ok for dogs to eat before you try to feed them to your pup.

Where do lemons come from?

Lemons are a hybrid, man-made fruit that originated in Burma and China. They are a cross between a citron and an orange. The citrus fruits enjoyed today came from millions of years worth of evolution as well as thousands of years of people breeding plants. A fossil of a citrus leaf discovered in China dates back to around 8 million years ago, but not much else is known about the fruit's history.

Can dogs eat lemons?

Unlike humans, dogs cannot and never should eat lemons. You should never give lemon to your dog, because it could give the dog gastrointestinal distress at the very least, because it is toxic to dogs.

What are the concerns with feeding lemons to dogs?

There are a number of concerns when it comes to feeding lemons to your dogs, including the following.

Citrus acid

Citrus toxicity may occur when your dog eats lemons, because their sensitive digestive systems cannot handle the amount of citrus acid in the fruit. It can lead to your dog having an upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting and weakness. Lemons contain a compound called psoralens, which makes this citrus fruit even worse for dogs. If your dog ingests large amounts of psoralens, he may have muscle tremors, drool, get a rash in his groin region, or not be able to walk. He could also become depressed and get dermatitis. If he eats many lemons, and he doesn't get to the veterinarian soon enough, liver failure or death could occur.

Lemon on teal background
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The sour taste

Some people like to put up videos of their dogs eating lemons for the first time, because they have a funny reaction to the sour taste. The dogs may back away or seem scared of the citrus fruit. Even if it's amusing to humans, the dogs are acting strangely because they don't enjoy the taste of the lemon. The sourness is overwhelming. If you don't want your dog to experience that discomfort, keep him away from lemons.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that dogs shouldn't eat lemons. If your dog had just a little bit of lemon that fell from your table, he should be fine, but check on him for signs of GI distress or more serious symptoms. You'll want to get him to the vet right away.

Also, it's not a good idea to put lemon essential oils on your dog or give him lemon juice. Lemon oil can irritate your dog's skin, as well as cause redness or burns when he goes outside on a sunny day. Lemon juice also contains a lot of citrus acid, so it's going to cause your dog to feel sick. Plus, there are no health benefits to using either, like there is for humans.

Instead of feeing your dog lemons, there are plenty of fruits and other nutritious human foods your dog can eat, like apples, melons, nectarines, oranges, pears, and peaches. Before feeding your dog any human food, always do your research and ask your veterinarian for their opinion as well. Dogs' digestive systems are not built like humans' digestive systems, so it's always best to check in with a medical professional.

Black dog chasing a lemon in a person's hand
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If you're curious about what other fruits and various foods you can feed your dog, make sure to check out our list of everything your dog can and cannot eat.