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For people, there are few things more refreshing than an ice-cold glass of lemonade. In addition, lemons are high in vitamin C and fiber; using them while cooking can be a healthy way to add flavor to your favorite recipes.

But can dogs eat lemons? No, and here’s why.

Are Lemons Safe for Dogs?

While the fleshy part of lemons is not toxic to dogs, this fruit still isn’t something to feed to your dog. If eaten, lemons could make your dog sick. Furthermore, citrus’ sourness is off-putting to most dogs. Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC, advises, “Dogs can eat lemons, though they do not eat them voluntarily, as they do not like the pungent citrus smell.”

Pembroke Welsh Corgi sitting up on its hind legs begging outdoors.
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Dogs disliking lemons’ smell is helpful. Lemon juice, which is a more concentrated version of the fruit, contains high amounts of citric acid, which is toxic to dogs. In addition, It’s important to keep your dog away from lemon rinds and skin. The rinds of lemons contain psoralen, which is also toxic to dogs. If swallowed, lemon rinds could cause gastric obstruction. If your dog has eaten a whole lemon or a rind, contact your veterinarian right away.

Similarly, while lemons themselves don’t contain much sugar, humans enjoy sugary, lemon-based drinks and foods like lemonade or lemon tarts; we recommend not giving these products to your dog. Too much sugar can lead to obesity and obesity-related health conditions in dogs.

Avoid Lemon Oils

Although the scent of lemon is pleasing to many people, it can be harmful to dogs. “The aromatic oils are considered toxic,” explains Dr. Klein. Direct contact with essential oils can cause topical irritation, and direct consumption of essential oils can be toxic and dangerous to dogs and cats. The lemon essential oil contains d-limonene and linalool; if ingested, these natural insecticides can harm your dog.

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Consuming lemon oil could cause serious damage to your pet’s liver or lead to gastroenteritis, whose symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting. However, since dogs dislike the smell of citrus, citrus odors are sometimes used in spray dilutions to deter them from chewing.

Fruits Dogs Can Eat Instead

Instead of lemons, your dog can eat limited quantities of canine-safe fruits that are packed with vitamins. Remove seeds and the core before feeding your dog small pieces of apple (an excellent source of vitamins C and A).

Alternatively, try cut-up blueberries (which are rich in antioxidants) or strawberries (which are full of fiber). We recommend avoiding feeding your dog canned fruit, which may be packed with sugary juices or syrups, or dried fruits, which are high in carbohydrates and can be processed with sugar.

Related article: Can Dogs Eat Kiwi?
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