Are Citrus Fruits Bad For Dogs?

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Though there are (unfortunately) lots of videos online of people feeding their dogs sour citrus fruits to humorous effect, this is actually a very bad idea. The RSPCA issued a warning about the dangers of these fruits to dogs after these videos surged in popularity. We spoke with Dr. Jordan Kautz, a veterinarian at Crestview Veterinary Clinic in Austin, Texas. Dr. Kautz told us, "Not only are citrus fruits on the list of fruits not to give your dog but they are actually quite dangerous. They can cause damage and irritation to the mucus in the mouth, the esophagus, and the lining of the stomach."


As cute as this pup snuggling these lemons and limes may be, make sure that your dogs stay away from citrus fruits, as they are toxic.

Eating small quantities of citrus, as in a segment or two, may not have an effect at all. But drinking orange juice, eating large amounts of orange slices, or eating large quantities of other citrus will likely result in digestive issues. While this may not be fatal, it's certainly not good. In fact, citrus fruits do not rise to the level of true toxicity, but consuming them will likely cause some irritation for your dog.


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Can dogs eat citrus fruits like lemons?

No, dogs should not eat citrus fruits like lemons.‌ Apart from the fact that your dog may reject the sour taste, it's very important to keep your pet away from lemons. The fruit causes gastrointestinal upset for dogs and also horses and cats for that matter. The poisonous components are the psoralen compounds and the aromatic oils. If your dog gets their paws on a lemon, they may experience unpleasant side effects, including diarrhea, throwing up, and even unusual light sensitivity.


"Lemons cause local irritation to mucosa-lined organs," explains Dr. Kautz, which means the organs irritated by lemons include the esophagus, lungs, stomach, and intestines.

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Can dogs eat limes?

No, dogs should not eat limes.‌ Just like the lemon, this sour green fruit is also likely to cause irritation for canines. "We wouldn't say that these are truly 'toxic,'" says Dr. Kautz, "but they are dangerous due to local irritation that will cause the symptoms of distress." If you have a lime tree growing in your backyard, make sure your curious pooch stays away from it no matter what. Consumption of any part of a lime, especially in excessive amounts, may also lead to diarrhea, throwing up, and sensitivity to light.


Kibble-type dog food is in small pieces. Anything larger than this that your dog gets in their mouth could potentially be a choking hazard. If your dog tries to eat a whole lime, it could be dangerous in that way as well as being an irritation to their digestive system or causing a blockage.



Can you feed a dog oranges?

No, you should not feed a dog oranges.‌ Although a dog may certainly prefer the taste of a tart orange over a lemon or lime, it's still crucial for you to keep your pet away from any and all orange trees. As with lemons, limes, and even grapefruit, the citric acid content of oranges may be risky to dogs. The acid is found all over the plant, from the actual fruit and the seeds to the rind, pith, leaves, and stems. Dogs can't avoid that stuff.


If your dog gets any of these things into their mouth and eats them, especially in big amounts, issues with the central nervous system may arise. However, if your dog finds a piece of orange fruit somewhere in your home — say, through digging in the kitchen trash — and swallows a small piece, they may be OK apart from diarrhea and a slight bellyache. If you have any concerns regarding their reaction, notify the veterinarian immediately.


If you want to give your dog a treat that they enjoy that is above and beyond their normal dog food, it's best to avoid human food except for safe veggies. Many human foods have too much fat or salt or too high of a sugar content to be healthy for dogs.

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Can dogs eat tangerines?

No, dogs cannot eat tangerines.‌ The tangerine is actually a type of orange. A mandarin is also a type of orange. Clementines are a type of orange. The same cautions apply in feeding a dog these citrus fruits.


What other fruits are dangerous to dogs?

Grapes, cherry pits, apple seeds, and peach pits are also dangerous to dogs.‌ Citrus fruits aren't the only possible fruity hazard out there. Other types of fruits may also be dangerous to your pet, which is why it's very important never to allow them to eat a human food item if you're anything less than 100 percent sure of its safety. Consult a detailed list of fruits and fruit parts (stems, pits, seeds, and more) that are toxic, including grapes, cherry pits, apple seeds, and peach pits. Make sure that all of these things are out of your dog's reach so they can stay happy and healthy.

On a side note, if you enjoy eating citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, consider saving the orange peels and the rinds from the other fruits. These can be tossed in your garden or flower beds to deter cats, who don't like the smell. They may also deter other garden pests, like slugs.

The bottom line

Any type of citrus fruit, from tangerines to limes, lemons, grapefruit, and oranges, should not be part of a dog's diet. There are health benefits to humans in eating these fruits, but they are not safe for dogs. At best, they can cause your dog to have an upset stomach. At worst, eating large amounts can cause irritation of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach.



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