Can Dogs Eat Lemons?

Can Dogs Eat Lemons

No, although a bit of lemon is not likely to cause severe harm to your canine companion, it is not something to add to your dog’s diet, and why would you? Your dog trusts you enough to lick or take a bite if you should offer him a lemon slice, even though it is not a taste many dogs would favor or even enjoy. Many people find it comical when dogs have strong reactions to a lemon’s taste. But, just like giving a baby a piece of lemon, feeding your dog a lemon is no joke.

Some dogs eat anything they can, and if that is a lemon, the consequences could be severe. Lemons contain compounds of psoralen, citric acid, and aromatic oils like limonene, that are toxic to dogs, and the effect will depend on the amount the dog consumed. Symptoms to look out for include vomiting, diarrhea, and unusual sensitivity to light, which would prompt a call to the vet. However, each dog is unique, and while most dogs will only react to significant amounts of lemon, others might be more sensitive.

View Table of Contents

Can Dogs Drink Lemon Juice?

No, dogs can’t drink lemon juice, but a few drops in your canine companion’s water bowl after vigorous exercise or a game of fetch on a hot day may help your playful pooch recover from fatigue and remain sprightly. However, never add more than a few drops to your dog’s water bowl because the toxicity of the lemon is also present in its juice. A drop or two of lemon juice in a full water bowl for a Maltese, and seven or eight drops for your Labrador Retriever, should be safe. The rule of thumb is that it’s too much if you can taste the lemon’s tartness in the water.

Can Dogs Eat Candied Lemon?

No, lemons are not suitable for dogs, and they cause them digestive problems. Although lemons aren’t considered toxic to dogs, they can cause them to have diarrhea or vomiting. Preserved, or candied, lemons also contain a lot of sugar, which adds another health risk.

Sugar causes weight gain, diabetes, tooth decay, gingivitis, etc. Some dog owners think they have to share their own treats with their canine companions; however, they never consider sharing dog treats like pig ears and cow hooves.

Can Dogs Eat Lemon Dessert?

Deserts of any kind are bad for the health of dogs. Whether you have an English Bulldog or a Dalmatian, don’t give in to those begging eyes when you eat Lemon Cake, Lemon Meringue Pie, or something covered with Lemon Jelly, Lemon Jam, or Lemon Curd. You’d do much better giving your precious pup one of his own treats to chew on.

Cakes and desserts are full of sugar and fat and if you’re into rich foods, there might be cream to boot. So not sharing your lemony treats with your canine companion would be the kind thing to do, else he might have to deal with stomach upset, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis from eating too much sugar and fat.

Can Dogs Eat Lemon Fruit?

No, it’s safer to keep your dog away from lemons. Lemons contain compounds of psoralen, citric acid, and aromatic oils like limonene. This compound is in the highest concentration in the lemon’s skin, leaves, seeds, and the white parts of the fruit, known as the pith, making lemons bad for dogs. The fleshy part of the fruit is not as toxic, but the chances of a dog eating only the flesh are scarce.

People with lemon trees on their property should clear away dropped fruits to prevent curious or playful dogs to get to them. Some people give their dogs lemons to play with. However, as the dog plays with the lemon, the lemon peels will release some of the limonene oil, which can be harmful to your furry friend.

Can Dogs Eat Lemon Zest?

No, lemon zest is not at all safe for your dog. Any part of the lemon peel is packed with compounds of psoralen, citric acid, and aromatic oils like limonene. Along with the risks related to ingesting those compounds, lemon zest or bits of peel can cause blockages because they are hard to digest. 

Those rinds can remain in your precious pup’s gut for a long time, in fact, they might not digest at all. The consequences could include diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and skin problems. Note that smaller breeds like Pomeranians and Dachshunde have more trouble digesting lemon zest than large breeds like English Mastiffs or Bernese Mountain Dogs.

What else Dogs Can Eat Together with Lemons?

According to the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the US, dogs should not eat lemons, and even a single drop of lemon juice can have severe consequences. However, not all dog owners agree. They argue that up to the 1950s, dogs ate whatever their owners fed them, mainly the leftovers of human meals. Since the appearance of commercial dog food, however, endless lists of dangerous ingredients, food, fruit, and vegetables are there to keep dogs safe from things that posed no threat before. They maintain that almost anything you feed your dog can be harmful if he ingests too much of it.

The other side of the story

Dog owners who prefer to deal with the health and care of their canine companions in a more holistic manner disagree. When fresh lemon or other fresh citrus is added to the daily diet in reasonable amounts, toxicity is not usually an issue. If instead, your dog drinks a couple of tablespoons of lemon oil, getting him to the veterinarian ASAP would be crucial.

Related: Can Dogs Eat Citrus Fruits?

NOTE: Check with your vet before following any of the advice below. Also, note the dosage guidance at the end of the list.

Below is a list of benefits of lemons, according to a non-profit petcare society in Ohio, followed by safe dosages for different-sized dogs.

  • Allergy reducing: Combine Lemon with Rooibos Tea
  • Arthritis: Lemons on their own are acidic; however, when ingested, lemons have an alkalizing effect that helps the body balance PH levels, thereby helping to relieve arthritis pain. Adding lemon to your puppy’s diet early on can help prevent the development of debilitating arthritis later in your dog’s life.
  • Anti-Aging Properties: The high levels of antioxidants present in lemons help the body fight against aging.
  • Antibacterial: Juice of a fresh lemon can destroy many forms of bacteria, including those that cause deadly diseases.
  • Brain Health: Lemon peels contain the potent phytonutrient tangeretin, which has been proven effective in treating brain disorders.
  • Cancer Inhibitor: As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C protects your dog’s cells from free radicals. Free radicals are charged atoms that form when specific molecules interact with oxygen.
  • Calming: Lemon acts as a sedative for nerves and can be used to help induce calm.
  • Breath Freshener: Squeeze a few drops of lemon into your furry friend’s water bowl. Note that your dog might avoid drinking water and become dehydrated if you add too much.
  • Diarrhea and Constipation: Lemon aids in the cleansing of the bowels (killing harmful bacteria and dislodging toxins), which helps eliminate both constipation and diarrhea.
  • Digestive Aid: A little lemon juice mixed with warm water will stimulate your dog’s digestive tract to help maintain food movement through your dog’s GI Tract. 
  • Disease Fighting: Lemons are a rich source of limonoids (phytochemicals), vital disease-fighting compounds.
  • Eye Disorders: The symptoms of eye disorders, including diabetic retinopathy, can be mitigated with the ingestion of lemons due to the rutin present in lemons.
  • Ear Infections: Using a lemon flush is an effective way to keep your dog’s ears clean and free of infection, one of the most common ailments in dogs.
  • Heart Health: Lemons contain a relatively high potassium level – potassium is beneficial to heart health.
  • Immune System Health: Lemons are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports immune system function.
  • Liver Health: Lemon stimulates the liver and dissolves uric acid and other poisons, supporting liver health.
  • Nutrient Absorption: Vitamin C helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamin C, Vitamin B3, Selenium, and Glutathione work with Vitamin E to avoid liver and gall bladder problems.

Adding any form of lemon to your dog’s diet should happen gradually. Over a week to 10 days, gradually increase the amount of lemon to the lowest recommended dosage for your dog’s size range. If your dog shows no adverse reactions to the lower dosage, you can increase to the higher dosage in your dog’s range if you would like to do so.

Dog Size

Lowest Dosage

Maximum Dosage

Toy Size and Extra-Small dogs

3 to 12 pounds

1/16 tsp per day 

(use a medicine dropper)

¼ teaspoon per day

Small Dogs 12 to 22 pounds

¼ teaspoon per day

1 teaspoon per day

Medium Dogs 23 to 57 pounds

1 teaspoon per day

2 teaspoons per day

Large Dogs 58 to 99 pounds

2 teaspoons per day

3 teaspoons per day

Extra Large Dogs 100+ pounds

3 teaspoons

4 teaspoons per day

What are the health advantages of feeding Lemons to your dog?

According to the ASPCA, AKC, and many veterinarians, there are no advantages to feeding lemons to your dog. However, your furry friend can benefit from lemon juice without ingesting it in many ways. Below is a list of uses from which your precious pup can benefit.

  • Lemon Juice for Eyes: Properly diluted lemon juice can effectively remedy eye infections in dogs. Consult your vet if your dog’s eye condition does not improve in two to three days. Before using lemon for a dog’s eye, make sure it’s an infection and not pink eye, as the remedy is useless against conjunctivitis. Yellow or green discharge from the eye is a way to tell that what your dog is dealing with is an infection. Mix four to five drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice with two tablespoons of distilled or previously boiled (and cooled) water. Use an eyedropper or cotton ball to put two to three drops in each eye twice a day.
  • Tear Stains: You can also moisten a cotton ball with this solution to help fade tear stains.
  • Train Your Pup: Spritz the fabric of furniture with lemon spray to teach your puppy to stay off. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to 1.5 cups of water in a spray bottle and use the solution to mist your furniture. The spray adds a fresh lemony scent to the room and will discourage your pet from climbing on the furniture.
  • Flea and Tick Repellent: Avoid skin irritations and epileptic seizures caused by the harsh chemicals in ordinary flea and tick repellants. Lemon juice is an all-natural alternative to these potentially harmful products. Mix a solution of equal parts of lemon juice and water in a spray bottle. Before taking your dog outside for a walk, spray his coat with the lemon juice solution.
  • Coat Whitener: Some dogs suffer from an ailment known as Chromodacryorrhea. It is a stain that forms around the dog’s eyes, feet, and mouth. The coloring is typically reddish-brown and can be unsightly and expensive to remove with surgical procedures. A mixture of equal parts lemon juice and baking soda can be an affordable and natural solution to your dog’s coat stains. Mix it into a paste and rub it onto your dog’s coat in the problem areas. Let it sit for up to ten minutes before rinsing thoroughly from your dog’s fur. Do not get into the dog’s eyes.

What are the disadvantages of feeding Lemons to your dog?

Dogs that react badly to eating lemons might have any of the symptoms listed below.:

  • Vomiting or Diarrhea

The citric acid and citrus oils found in lemons can upset your dog’s tummy. You’ll find these in the flesh and peel. Your pup’s symptoms can be mild, but it depends on how much lemon they ate (the more they eat, the sicker they are likely to be). Dogs with sensitive guts can be affected more significantly. Without treatment, they can become severely dehydrated and unwell. But if your dog isn’t eating or drinking from the start, or they’re reticent, speak to your veterinarian sooner.

  • Gut Blockage or Choking

Some pet parents might be tempted to give a dog a whole lemon to roll around or play with. Don’t do this. You might think it impossible that a dog can swallow an entire lemon, but you’d be surprised what dogs are capable of swallowing. Also, be extra careful about where you keep your lemons at home, as they will look like excellent playthings to most dogs. A whole lemon, or large amounts of lemon rind, is not only a choking hazard, but if your pup swallows it in one piece, it could get stuck in their gut. Dogs with a gut blockage are often vomiting, lethargic, off their food, not pooping, and have tummy pain. They can die if not dealt with quickly, so call your veterinarian if you think this has happened.

  • Lethargy

Some of the chemicals in lemons, such as essential oils, can make dogs sleepy if eaten in large amounts and not calmly and relaxing. Oils are found in high concentrations in the lemon peel (or rind) and leaves. In the worst case, dogs can tremor, dribble, and have problems walking. Many lemons would have to be eaten before you might see symptoms of essential oil toxicity.

  • Skin Problems

Psoralen can cause skin reactions when your dog eats lemons. When exposed to the sun, their skin can become inflamed and develop painful spots and scabs. Dogs shouldn’t be left outside in the direct sun for too long anyway, even if they haven’t been eating lemons.

What are the best dog foods with Lemons?

This is where Dog Food Care usually tells you about the different dog food brands containing the human food item under discussion. Well, this time, as expected, we could not find a single manufacturer of dog food with lemons included in their recipes. 

Are Lemons Toxic to Dogs?

There are two chemicals in lemons and other citrus fruits that are problematic for canines and other animals. The seeds, pith, and peel contain psoralen, an organic compound found in many plants. It can interfere with DNA synthesis and cause mutations. That probably sounds scary enough. However, it also increases one’s sensitivity to light and, thus, the absorption of UV radiation.

The other organic compound in lemons that can adversely affect your canine companion is limonene, found in the peel primarily. It is a primary component of the essential oil and gives lemons their refreshing scent. Bear in mind that these ingredients are highly concentrated. A little goes a long way. This information adds up to a toxic food not only for dogs but also for cats and horses.

The Bottom Line: Whether you agree with authorities about the dangers posed by lemons or with the holistic mind thought, know this: Lemon is not toxic and not likely to cause your precious pup’s death. However, dogs who ingest too much lemon could have adverse health consequences – whether your dog came across a lemon and decided to check the taste or whether you gave your dog lemon to eat.

Further Reading: What Human Food Can Dogs Eat: “Can Dogs Eat” People Foods?

See more:

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.