Can Dogs Eat Lemons

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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When dogs eat lemons off the counter, many pet owners may feel concerned, but as it turns out, in moderate amounts, lemons are safe for dogs to eat, and may even have some health benefits.

Can Dogs Eat Lemons?

In small amounts, lemons are not inherently dangerous for dogs, although the sour, mouth-puckering experience that humans have when eating lemons may also occur in dogs. The extremely sour flavor of lemons may immediately put your dog off of eating these popular fruits, but if they do happen to enjoy the experience, you should still limit their intake. So much citric acid can have a number of unpleasant side effects on their gastrointestinal systems.

When it comes to lemon juice, there is even more of a concentrated burst of acidity and citric acid, so the likelihood of stomach upset increases. There is a limited amount of nutrients that are accessible to dogs in lemons, and most of their necessary nutrients should be taken care of in their normal dog food. All human food should be seen as an occasional treat or complement to their regular diet, not a replacement. When it comes to lemons, you can give very small amounts to your dogs, but given the risk, it makes more sense to choose a more nutritionally dense and less risky fruit.

Close-up picture of two small puppies

Dogs are pack animals, meaning they are social creatures who prefer the company of other animals. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Are Lemons Toxic to Dogs?

Lemons and their active ingredients are not necessarily toxic to dogs, but eating even a moderate amount can cause some very unpleasant side effects like diarrhea and vomiting. Furthermore, the psoralen content and some of the aromatic oils can become toxic if ingested in large enough quantities. The high acidity of these fruits will have a very rapid impact on your canine companion’s stomach. Due to the difficulty of digesting the peel and some of the pith of a lemon, this fruit could also cause a blockage in your dog’s intestinal tract, which would be a much more serious problem.

Health Benefits of Lemons for Dogs

The potential benefits when dogs eat lemons include reducing inflammation, helping to prevent cancer, aiding digestion, and boosting immunity, among others. Again, these benefits are only available if highly controlled amounts are given to your dog, or else the effects will be negative.

Reduce Inflammation

Despite the high acidity of lemons, which can cause stomach upset, the acids actually alkalize within the body, which is known to reduce inflammation in the body, relieving arthritis as your dog ages.

Anticancer Potential

Lemons contain notable levels of vitamin C, as well as limonene and other active antioxidants. This is more than able to help your dog fend off the negative effects of free radicals and help them lower their risk of cancer.

Aid in Digestion

In small amounts, lemons can actually help to optimize a dog’s digestion, thanks to the fiber it contains and some of the stimulating compounds in these fruits. However, too much lemon and the digestive problems will get even worse.

Boost Immune System

Just like in humans, dogs’ immune system can benefit from vitamin C, particularly because dogs are unable to create vitamin C in their own body, and must get it from their diet.

Anti-Parasitic

Dogs are quite prone to parasites, but lemons and lemon juice have anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-parasitic effects, which can help keep your dog strong, healthy, and protected.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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