slice of a lemon

Are Lemons Good For Dogs?

Dogs owners have a new habit lately, which is letting their pooch taste lemon and recording their reaction on a video. Even though that seems like a completely harmless thing to do, that move might not be as innocent as it seems. Because some compounds in lemons make us think that they are not good for dogs.

Are Lemons Good For Dogs?

Lemons contain some oils and a compound called psoralens that can be toxic to dogs. Also, they have a very high acidic value that can cause gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea. That is why it is not a good idea to let your pooch get near lemons. 

But why exactly are lemons bad for dogs, and are there alternatives that you can feed your pooch?


Lemons are one of the most popular members of the citrus family. They grow in the lemon tree, and they are frequently used in food and drinks. Their sour and distinctive taste makes them a perfect complementary fruit to a lot of meals.

Another reason why people love lemons is that they are very nutritious. First, they are filled with vitamin C. So, they have amazing anti-oxidant benefits.

They also contain high levels of citric acid and phytochemicals. That is why lemons are also used widely in cleaning products.

On paper, lemons seem like they are very nutritious, and they have a wide range of benefits. Yet that is not the case. Because lemons contain some compounds that can be harmful and even toxic to dogs.

Why Are Lemons Not Safe for Dogs?

Psoralen Toxicity

We already mentioned the reason why lemons are not safe for dogs. Because they contain some essential oils and a compound called psoralen. Especially psoralen is dangerous for dogs even in small amounts, and it can cause a variety of issues.

The common symptoms of psoralen poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, behavioral changes, and photo-sensitivity.

Photosensitivity is an unusual sensitivity to lights, and that is why it is very easy to detect. Another consequence of photo-sensitivity is that your pooch will have a hard time standing up.

There are other less common symptoms of psoralen toxicity, and they include trembling, general debility and rashes. There is also a chance that your dog will develop a rash in his groin area.

Digestive Issues

We already mentioned that lemons contain high levels of citric acid and that can cause issues for the digestive system of most dogs.

The way lemons disturb the digestive system of a dog is by disrupting the acid balance. That is why they can cause issues like vomiting and diarrhea.

The effects of citric acid to a dog’s digestive system can change from one dog to another. Also, the amount that the dog consumed is another significant factor. For most dogs, small amounts of lemon consumption will not cause any digestive issues.

Peels and Seeds of the Lemons Can Also Be Harmful

The biggest issue that will occur if your dog ends up eating the peel or skin of the lemon is choking hazard. That is especially true for dogs that are smaller breeds. Because a large piece of peel can easily disrupt the gastrointestinal tract of a dog.

That is also true for the seeds of the lemon. While they are not toxic to dogs when consumed, they can cause gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Lemon?

The first thing you must do is to look for the symptoms of the lemon poisoning caused by psoralen. The most common symptoms are vomiting, nausea, signs of frequent discomfort, or other unusual behaviors.

You should not give your dog any food for 24 hours. Fasting your pooch will allow his gut to recover from any toxins that it has in it. During that time, make sure that your dog is getting enough water. This will help to flush the fruit out of his system.

If the symptoms continue, you should take your pooch to the vet immediately.

Luckily, dogs can taste bitter and sour, and most dogs are not fond of them. That is why there is a little chance that your pooch will get near the lemons, let alone eating them. Because dogs instinctively know that these foods are poisonous to them and they learned to avoid them.

But dogs won’t be able to distinguish the taste of the lemon if it is among the other ingredients in a meal. That is why you should always be careful about feeding your pooch foods that have lemon in them.

Can Dogs Drink Lemon Juice or Lemonade?

The answer is no because lemon juice is just as acidic as a lemon. So, it will cause severe digestive issues when consumed too much. Also, commercial lemon juices contain some artificial preservatives to prolong the shelf life of the products.

As for the lemonade, other than containing lemon, the problem with that is it contains sugar. Most dog owners already know the harmful effects of sugar consumption in dogs. But we would like to remind you of a couple of side effects.

First, we should start by mentioning that why sugar is bad for dogs. Because dogs are evolved from wild wolves, which relied mostly on protein for surviving and thriving. That is why sugar consumption is not natural for them. They are not even as successful as humans at tolerating it because their digestive system has not adapted to eat digest sugar at all.

Too much sugar can cause serious issues for dogs. Weight gain is the number one result of eating too much sugar. We should mention that obesity in dogs is widespread and sugar is the number one culprit of that problem.

Can Dogs Eat Lemongrass?

Since many herbs are beneficial for dogs, you might think that lemongrass is the same. But unfortunately, that is not the case. Lemongrass can cause severe stomach problems for dogs if they end up having too much of it. Because a dog’s digestive system is not well adapted to digest such intense plant material.

Yet we should mention that lemongrass can also be used beneficially because it is a natural mosquito and flea repellent. You can spray tiny amounts of it on your dog’s food for a good smell, and it will also repel fleas. You should remember to spray tiny amounts to avoid any potential digestive issues.

Fruits That are Alternatives to Lemon

We already mentioned that lemon is very harmful and even in some cases toxic to dogs. That is why you must go for other citrus fruits if you want your pooch to consume some safely.

Tangerines and oranges are perfect substitutes for lemons. But you should never feed your dog grapefruits because they are as harmful as lemons.

We should mention that dogs don’t need any vitamin C. That is why there are better fruits to feed your pooch compared to the citrus fruits.

For instance, most dogs love bananas and strawberries. They are also very nutritious and perfectly safe to consume. But as with every other food, you should never exceed the moderate amounts. Otherwise, stomach problems or can occur.

Conclusion: Are Lemons Good for Dogs?

Even though lemon is an inevitable part of our food culture, that is not the case for our furry friends.

Because some compounds that lemons contain can cause severe issues for dogs, and in extreme cases, it can even be fatal.

That is why you should never let your tail-wagger consume lemon or any food that contains lemon, including lemon juice and lemonade.

Also, there are a lot of cleaning products made by using lemon as one of the ingredients. That is why you should keep those products away from your pooch and shouldn’t let him inhale the harmful chemicals.

If you suspect that your pooch consumed lemon, you should fast him and wait if the symptoms will subside. Otherwise, you should call your vet immediately. Also, you can contact the ASPCA’s animal poison hotline for advice.