Can Dogs Eat Citrus Fruits?

Can Dogs Eat Citrus Fruits

Hey there, fellow dog lovers! We all want the best for our furry pals, and that includes keeping them well-fed and healthy. But when it comes to feeding your dog, not everything that’s good for us is good for them. Today, we’re diving into the juicy topic of citrus fruits โ€“ can your dog chomp down on these tangy treats? Let’s find out!

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Citrus Fruit Guide for Dogs: What to Offer and What to Avoid

Fruit Is it Safe for Dogs? Potential Risks Recommended Serving Alternatives
Oranges Yes, but in small amounts. High citric acid can lead to digestive upset. A small slice or tiny piece occasionally. Small amounts of apples, bananas, blueberries, and watermelon are safer.
Clementines Yes, but in small amounts. Lower citric acid content makes them safer, but still serve sparingly. Small portions, occasionally. Safer alternatives include apples and blueberries.
Grapefruit No, should be avoided. High Psoralen content is toxic to dogs. Not recommended. Apples, blueberries, and watermelon are better choices.
Lemons and Limes No, should be avoided. High citric acid levels can cause digestive issues and skin irritations. Best to avoid entirely. Opt for safer options like apples, blueberries, and watermelon.
Tangerines and Mandarines No, should be avoided. Can lead to digestive upset. Best to avoid entirely. Safer alternatives include apples and blueberries.

Citrus Fruits 101: The Lowdown

The Potential Dangers

The main issue with citrus fruits is the presence of essential oils and compounds like limonin and psoralen. These can be harmful to dogs.

They can cause a host of problems for your pooch, such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and even skin irritations. In fact, according to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), these compounds can be toxic to dogs.

Specific Risks of Citrus for Dogs

Citrus fruits can pose specific risks:

  • Upset Stomach: The high acidity of citrus fruits can lead to gastrointestinal issues in dogs. They might experience stomach discomfort, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Skin Irritation: The oils in citrus fruits can cause skin irritations in some dogs, especially if they come into contact with the oils or ingest them.
  • Photosensitivity: Psoralen, found in certain citrus fruits, can make your dog’s skin more sensitive to sunlight, leading to sunburn.

Safe Citrus Fruits for Your Canine Companion

While the list of safe citrus fruits for dogs is short, it’s worth knowing which ones are acceptable in moderation:

  • Small Amounts of Oranges: Yes, you can offer your dog a tiny slice of orange. They might enjoy the occasional vitamin C boost. But remember, moderation is key! According to the AKC (American Kennel Club), orange flesh is safe in small amounts.
  • Clementines: These little cuties are lower in citric acid and can be a safer choice for dogs. Still, serve them sparingly.

Citrus Fruits to Avoid

Now, let’s talk about the fruits you should absolutely steer clear of:

  • Grapefruit: This fruit is a definite no-no for dogs due to its high psoralen content, which can be toxic to them. Even a small amount can be problematic.
  • Lemons and Limes: These are a big red flag. Their high citric acid levels can wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system and should be avoided entirely.
  • Tangerines and Mandarins: While not as harmful as lemons and limes, they can still cause digestive upset. So, better be safe than sorry.

Quantity Matters

Remember, even if a fruit is safe for dogs, portion control is crucial. A tiny nibble or a thin slice is plenty. Feeding your pup a whole citrus fruit is a recipe for tummy trouble. A guideline to keep in mind is that treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Citrus and Specific Dog Breeds

Keep in mind that some dog breeds might be more sensitive to citrus than others. Breeds like Shih Tzus, Pugs, and Dachshunds can be especially prone to digestive issues. So, it’s best to be extra cautious when offering them any citrus fruits.

Alternatives to Citrus Fruits

So, if citrus fruits are a no-go, what can you treat your pup with? There are plenty of dog-friendly options, including small portions of apples, bananas, blueberries, and watermelon. These fruits are safe and can be a tasty, healthy addition to their diet.

Consulting with a Veterinarian

Always consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new foods into your dog’s diet. They can offer guidance tailored to your dog’s specific needs and health condition.


In a nutshell, while the sight of your pup trying to steal a slice of orange might be adorable, it’s generally best to avoid citrus fruits altogether. The risks just outweigh the rewards.

But if you can’t resist those puppy-dog eyes, stick to the safe options like small bits of orange or clementines. Here’s to many tail-wagging and citrus-free adventures with your beloved four-legged buddy!


Why are citrus fruits bad for dogs?

Citrus fruits can be harmful to dogs due to their high citric acid content and the presence of essential oils and compounds like limonin and psoralen. These components can lead to digestive issues, upset stomach, skin irritations, and even photosensitivity in dogs.

Can I give my dog a small piece of orange now and then?

Yes, you can offer your dog a small piece of orange in moderation. It can be a source of vitamin C. However, be cautious with the quantity, and make it an occasional treat, not a regular part of their diet.

Are clementines safe for dogs?

Clementines are safer than some other citrus fruits because they have lower citric acid levels. Still, serve them sparingly and in small amounts. Keep in mind that any fruit should only be a minor part of your dog’s diet.

Can I feed my dog grapefruit, lemons, or limes in small quantities?

No, grapefruit, lemons, and limes should be completely avoided in your dog’s diet. These fruits have high levels of harmful compounds and citric acid, which can lead to digestive problems and other health issues.

Can certain dog breeds eat citrus fruits safely?

Some dog breeds, like Shih Tzus, Pugs, and Dachshunds, can be more sensitive to citrus fruits. It’s advisable to be cautious when offering any citrus fruits to these breeds due to their potential for digestive issues.

What are some alternative fruits I can feed my dog safely?

There are several safe fruits you can offer your dog as treats, including apples (without seeds), bananas, blueberries, and watermelon. These fruits are generally well-tolerated and can be a tasty addition to their diet.

Can I give my dog citrus fruit if they have eaten some by accident?

If your dog happens to eat a small amount of citrus fruit by accident, monitor them for any adverse reactions like vomiting, diarrhea, or signs of distress. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any issues.

Is it essential to consult with a vet before introducing new foods to my dog’s diet?

Yes, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new foods to your dog’s diet. They can provide advice tailored to your dog’s specific needs and ensure their overall health and safety.

Are there any statistics related to citrus-related canine illnesses?

While specific statistics may vary by region, there is a growing concern about citrus-related illnesses in dogs due to increased awareness among pet owners. Cases of dogs experiencing issues after consuming citrus fruits are on the rise, emphasizing the need for informed choices regarding their diet.

Can I include citrus fruits in my dog’s homemade treats or meals if I’m careful with the quantity?

It’s generally best to avoid citrus fruits in homemade dog treats or meals. There are plenty of other safe and delicious options that can be incorporated into your dog’s diet without the risks associated with citrus fruits.

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