Can Dogs Eat Citrus? The Risks and Dangers

Dogs and citrus may not mix as well as you think. Find out why citrus fruits can be harmful to your furry friend and what to do if they accidentally ingest some.
Can Dogs Eat citrus?

Can Dogs Eat Citrus?

Dogs should not eat citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, or grapefruits. While a small amount of citrus might not be harmful to some dogs, these fruits can cause gastrointestinal irritation and even central nervous system depression in certain cases. Moreover, the citric acid and oils found in citrus fruits may irritate a dog's mouth and stomach, leading to discomfort and vomiting.

Why Citrus Fruits Are Harmful to Dogs

Citrus fruits are harmful to dogs because they contain citric acid, which can cause irritation and discomfort in a dog's digestive system. In large amounts, citric acid can even lead to central nervous system depression, which can be life-threatening. Additionally, the essential oils found in citrus fruits can be toxic to dogs. These oils can be absorbed through the skin and cause irritation or ingested and cause vomiting and other gastrointestinal issues.

How Much Citrus Is Safe for Dogs?

It is generally best to avoid giving your dog citrus fruits altogether. However, if your dog accidentally ingests a small amount of citrus, it is unlikely to cause any serious harm. As with any food, it is important to monitor your dog for any signs of discomfort or illness, such as vomiting or diarrhea, and contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns. In general, it is recommended to feed your dog a balanced and species-appropriate diet and avoid giving them any human foods that are not specifically formulated for dogs. This will help ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy.

Signs of Citrus Toxicity in Dogs

If your dog has consumed citrus fruits, it is important to monitor them for any signs of toxicity or adverse effects. Some common symptoms of citrus toxicity in dogs include:

Gastrointestinal Issues

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

Skin Irritation

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching

Central Nervous System Effects

  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog after they have consumed citrus, contact your veterinarian immediately for advice on how to proceed.

Safe Fruits for Dogs

While citrus fruits are not safe for dogs, there are many other fruits that can be a healthy and delicious treat for your canine companion. Some safe fruits for dogs include:

  • Apples (with seeds removed)
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cranberries
  • Mango (with the pit removed)
  • Pears (with seeds removed)
  • Pineapple (with the skin removed)
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon (without seeds)

Always introduce new fruits to your dog's diet in moderation and observe them for any signs of an allergic reaction or digestive upset.

How to Prevent Citrus Exposure in Dogs

To prevent your dog from accidentally consuming citrus fruits, take the following precautions:

Store Citrus Fruits Out of Reach

Keep oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits in a location that is inaccessible to your dog, such as in a closed pantry or on a high shelf.

Supervise Your Dog in the Kitchen

When preparing or consuming citrus fruits, keep your dog out of the kitchen or closely supervise them to ensure they do not steal any fruit or lick up any juice.

Properly Dispose of Citrus Peels and Seeds

Make sure to dispose of citrus peels, seeds, and any other discarded parts of the fruit in a secure trash can that your dog cannot access.

Educate Others About Citrus Toxicity in Dogs

Inform family members, friends, and pet sitters about the dangers of citrus fruits for dogs and ask them not to feed your dog any citrus or leave citrus fruits within their reach.

By following these precautions and avoiding citrus fruits in your dog's diet, you can help keep your canine companion safe and healthy.

Medically Reviewed by Nauman Zaheer, DVM

Nauman Zaheer Ghumman, DVM is an MPhil qualified Licensed Veterinary Doctor with a wide range of academic writing experience, including published work in an International Veterinary journal and educational material for Pet owners.

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