Can Dogs Eat Lemon: The Sour Truth

Dog lying on couch with a lemon

Key Points

  • Some pet owners may choose to use lemon as a punishment or even a refreshing treat, which leads many to wonder can dogs eat lemon.

  • In addition to wondering can dogs eat lemon, you may also wonder about lemon by-products such as essential oils.

  • Although a modest quantity of lemon is unlikely to be harmful, lemon may produce gastrointestinal distress in dogs.

It's highly unlikely that your dog likes lemons. Dogs typically don't like the scent of it, and they don't enjoy the taste either. Therefore, there is no need to add lemon to your dog's food at any time.

Even more than just your dog not liking it though, can dogs eat lemon? Everyone knows you shouldn't feed chocolate to your dogs, but are lemons safe to feed your dog? Every pet owner should be aware that feeding lemon to their dog may do more damage than good if they unintentionally consume too much.

A Sour Consequence

Some people resort to using real lemon juice as harsh, sour punishment for their pets when it comes to puppy training. Much like using cayenne pepper, the intention is that your dog associates a terrible flavor in its mouth with the activity that got them there in the first place.

In such a case, they are unlikely to repeat that activity. Some websites suggest that combining vinegar and lemon juice might be the ideal spray to keep your dog's negative habits under control, but this is a risky act. Even though your dog will not be swallowing the harmful elements in the lemon peel and seeds, the acidity of the lemon juice in your dog's "no-no spray" may create significant gastrointestinal problems; this can be a terrible experience for your dog, as well as a major clean-up for you.

You might have seen dog owners filming their dogs' reactions while feeding them lemon. Pups' funny and cute reactions might seem fun, but giving your dog a lemon can be a risk.

First, lemons are pretty sour, making them unattractive to dogs. Lemons may make your dog sick, and even a tiny piece of the fruit might disturb their stomach. If your dog consumes a large amount of lemon, their illness might get more severe, and they may experience other harmful side effects such as light sensitivity, weakness, and collapse. According to the ASPCA, lemons and lemon trees are considered toxic for dogs.

What Is Lemon Poisoning?

Lemons and limes are well-known additives to food and drink in the human world, yet they may be harmful to your dog.

Like other citrus fruits, lemons and limes contain the essential oils limonene and linalool, and psoralens, a phototoxic chemical. Although a modest quantity is unlikely to be harmful, it may produce gastrointestinal distress. More significant amounts of these fruits may cause more severe discomfort. However, this is unlikely since dogs do not find these fruits pleasant.

Phototoxic chemicals termed psoralens, linalool and limonene are produced by lemon (Citrus limon) and lime (Citrus aurantifolia) trees. These essential oils are responsible for the toxicity of citrus trees. 


Limonene is a terpene found in all citrus fruits and is responsible for that unmistakable citrusy scent.

It is mainly found in lemon peel and should not be given to your dog. It is often used in cosmetics, flavoring compounds, and cleaning chemicals. D-limonene may produce hazardous symptoms such as hypersalivation (drooling), muscle tremors, ataxia (loss of coordination), and acute hypothermia when used in sprays or baths at 5-10x the proper dosage. D-limonene and its oxidation products are mild irritants to the skin, eyes, and mucosa. D-limonene in the air may induce irritation and an allergic reaction.


Linalool, a terpene that adds a flowery perfume to the citrus aroma, is often used as an insecticide in lotions and soaps as a fragrance.

Much like limonene, linalool is also not safe for dog consumption.


When combined with the acidity of the fruits, psoralens may make the consumption of lemons and limes toxic for dogs. However, the oils produced from these plants are more harmful in concentrated amounts seen in pesticides, dips, shampoos, and sprays.

Other plants contain psoralens and linalool as well. However, the essential oil limonene is often found only in citrus trees. Linalool is also produced by oranges, grapefruit, rosewood, carrots, parsley, and cumin seeds.

Dog lying sick

Symptoms of Lemon Poisoning in Dogs

The symptoms of citrus fruit poisoning are induced by phototoxic chemicals known as psoralens and the essential oils limonene and linalool.

Symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of coordination, rash or skin irritation, and cold limbs can all be caused by lemon poisoning.

Are Citrus Fruits Good for Dogs?

Not only are lemons not a good snack for your dog, but you should also avoid giving your dog any other citrus fruit, such as grapefruits and limes.

Oranges are the lone exception to this rule. However, they should be consumed in moderation. This is because of the presence of citric acid and high quantities of sugar, which may contribute to obesity. You should also make sure that your dog is just eating the fruit and not the peel.

Citric acid is found in citrus fruits. Citric acid, in sufficient doses, may be toxic to dogs, causing central nervous system disorders and depression.

Citrus fruits should not be fed to dogs that are overweight or have diabetes. While the natural sugar in fruits is not intrinsically harmful, it may affect the blood sugar levels of diabetic dogs and lead to extra calories if provided in high quantities. Your dog's size and breed may also impact how well it digests citrus fruits. For example, large-breed dogs may tolerate higher doses than small-breed dogs.

While a Husky or German Shepherd may be able to eat two or three segments of fruit without issue, a smaller breed such as a Yorkie or Pomeranian would most likely have stomach discomfort if they ate that much. In addition, the same quantity of fruits would account for a significantly larger percentage of a smaller dog's daily calorie and sugar consumption than a larger dog's.

Dog with a glass of lemonade

Lemon Water for Dogs

On a hot summer day, few things are more pleasant than a glass of cold lemon water. It satisfies in a way that few other drinks do. So whether you see your dog panting after a vigorous game of fetch, you may wonder if he might get the same advantages. After all, it tastes great and contains traces of vitamin C.

Lemon has a few potentially hazardous chemicals that may be harmful to your dog if eaten. However, when appropriately diluted, lemon juice may be an effective treatment for eye infections in dogs. For example, four to five drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice to two tablespoons of distilled or previously boiled — and cooled — water. Apply two to three drops to each eye twice a day using an eyedropper or cotton ball. To help remove tear stains, wet a cotton ball with this solution.

Moreover, distilled lemon juice may aid your dog's breath. Fill your pet's water bowl with a lemon slice. Take care not to let seeds or peel float in the water since they contain compounds that might make your pet nauseated and are moderately harmful. Finally, check to see whether your dog is drinking enough water. Your dog will not drink enough if the water is excessively sour. This might result in dehydration and other health issues.

Additionally, lemon juice is a well-known and efficient flea treatment for dogs. To prepare this flea spray, finely slice a lemon and place it in a pint of water. Bring to a boil. Allow the citrus solution to soak overnight before pouring it into a spray bottle. The following day, spray the citrus solution over the contaminated areas of your pet's furniture or beds. 

Dog looking at cookies

Lemon Cookies for Dogs

Dogs should not eat lemon cookies. When taken in high quantities, the preservatives in the cookie may damage your dog's health, mainly if they are diabetic or have an irritated digestive system.

A lemon cookie might contain an artificial sweetener such as xylitol. This naturally occurring sweetener may be found in various products marketed as sugar-free, including ice cream, sweets, pastries, gums, yogurts, juices, and others. If ingested, xylitol is highly toxic and may be deadly. It may induce seizures, liver failure, and death even in small dosages. You may want to think about different snacks that are safer and contain no preservatives.

Dog looking at chicken on a table

Lemon Chicken for Dogs

If you're in the kitchen cooking up some lemon chicken for the family, you might be tempted to throw your dog a bit as a tasty treat. Unfortunately, though, you wouldn't be doing them any favors.

Dogs should not be permitted to consume or even taste lemon chicken. The meat is dry and too fatty, the lemon sauce is pungent, and the other spices are unpleasant or harmful. As a result, it is reasonable to say that lemon chicken is not suitable for dogs.

It's no secret that lemon chicken is high in fat since it's cooked in butter. Some lemon chicken recipes call for baking, while others call for frying. The end outcome in both circumstances is a fat overdose. Overeating fatty foods might set off a pancreatitis attack. Obesity is caused by an excess of fat in the long term. The recipe might also contain salt. Too much salt might make your dog very thirsty. That entails several trips to the fire hydrant, which might result in sodium-ion overdose. Vomiting, diarrhea, sadness, tremors, high fever, and seizures are all symptoms of too much salt. It may even result in death.

Moreover, the lemon sauce contains sugar. The stomach of a dog is not built to digest sugars. Too much sugar may cause problems in the digestive tract and cause hyperactivity in dogs. Obesity and diabetes are long-term consequences.

Another ingredient added to the lemon chicken recipe is black pepper. While a little bit of pepper is not dangerous, excessive spicing will cause stomach and bowel trouble in the dog. Stomach ulcers have been linked to irritating spices such as black pepper in more severe instances.

Garlic and onion are other essential ingredients in lemon chicken. Both include substances that are harmful to the dog's red blood cells. When red blood cells are damaged, they are unable to function and are removed from circulation, resulting in life-threatening anemia.

Lemonade for Dogs

Lemon juice is as acidic as lemons, and lemonade is just lemon juice mixed with sugar.

Your dog does not need either in their body. Sugar will add to your dog's possible weight gain, which may lead to other health issues. Excess citric acid and sugar may also induce vomiting and diarrhea. Therefore, it's advisable to avoid anything with lemon. Other fruits may be given to your dog, and water can be used to keep them hydrated.

Dog looking at a piece of cake

Lemon Cake for Dogs

Desserts like lemon cake should be kept out of reach of your dog. They aren't good for your dog's health, and you'll discover why when you look at the components in lemon cake. Flour, butter, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and zest are the most basic components.

Eggs include protein, and many dogs easily develop egg allergies. GI symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea are signs that your dog is experiencing an allergic response. They might have skin problems like itching around the ears, paws, and other areas.

However, none of the ingredients listed above are poisonous to dogs. However, they will create plenty of issues, particularly in the digestive system, if consumed in high quantities. A little slice of lemon cake is unlikely to make your dog sick, but anything larger may need careful monitoring and a trip to the vet.

Dog with a piece of pie

Lemon Meringue Pie for Dogs

When you look at the nutritional composition of a lemon meringue pie, it's clear why it's bad for your dog.

It contains a lot of sugar. It also has more salt than your dog needs. The main issue with feeding your dog lemon meringue pie is the sugar. Dogs, like people, need carbohydrates in their diet. Sugar from nutritious fruits is healthy in moderation for your dog. However, the sugar in lemon meringue pie is bad for your dog.

In a lemon meringue pie, salt is probably the last thing on your radar. However, it's vital to understand that dogs have a far lower sodium need than humans. A 33-pound dog should not consume more than 200 milligrams of salt each day. This implies that one piece of lemon meringue pie has more salt than even a big dog needs in a single day.

Remember that dog food, as well as any treats you may offer them, includes salt.

Lemon Essential Oil for Dogs

Essential oils are becoming more popular, so it's no wonder that some dog owners want to try them. Essential oils are often promoted as natural therapy choices or even alternatives to traditional medication, with promises ranging from anxiety to skin issues. Unfortunately, there are major hazards to using essential oils incorrectly to treat pets. However, there are also methods to utilize them safely.

The lemon essential oil contains citrus oil, which is highly concentrated due to its chemical potency. While some essential oils are known to treat a variety of health conditions in humans, they may have a negative impact on your pet if swallowed. If you use essential oils daily, you could consider using them on your pet. Citrus oils, however, should be avoided at all costs, regardless of whether the label allows it. Your dog will almost certainly lick its paw if you apply essential oils to the dog's skin. In addition, it might result in poisoning as soon as it is consumed.

If you are looking for another option to reduce anxiety, consider a calming dog bed with pet-safe calming inserts.

What to Do When Your Dog Has Eaten a Lemon 

If your dog has eaten a lemon or a lemon-mixed treat, you'll need to consider how much they ate.

In most cases, you'll simply need to manage any symptoms that occur. However, if your pooch ate a large amount of pie, it's best to call your vet. If your dog is suffering from stomach issues, vets normally suggest delaying meals for 12-24 hours. After that, it's advisable to start feeding them again with a bland, readily digestible meal until their stomach heals.

It is important to take out the toxins from your dog's stomach. Your vet might pump out his stomach to do so. It is recommended to contact your veterinarian if your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea or if they have blood in their feces. If they develop a fever, lethargy, or a rash in addition to gastrointestinal problems, take them to the vet.

Finally, believe your gut feelings. If something doesn't seem right, it's advisable to contact your veterinarian.

Final Thoughts

If you have a food-motivated dog, it is critical to understand which foods are poisonous to your pet.

Don't assume your dog can eat whatever you can, including lemons. Citrus fruits include several harmful toxins that might create serious problems for your dog. Citric acid is toxic to dogs, particularly in high amounts. It may induce severe stomach distress, vomiting, and diarrhea. Citric acid is abundant in lemons. Though a single lick of lemon or lemon juice is unlikely to upset your dog's stomach, too much of it might make them ill.

Lemons also contain a few naturally occurring compounds that are toxic to dogs, including psoralens, which may make dogs ill if consumed and cause skin irritation if they come into touch with it. If they get any on their skin, it might cause rashes or sunburn-like painful spots.

It is recommended to give other fruits to your dogs like apples, bananas, blueberries, and pineapples. You can also give oranges in small amounts as they are rich in vitamin C and potassium.

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