Most of us like citrus of some kind whether it’s oranges, lemon, or limes. What about dogs? Do they like citrus? And, more importantly, can dogs eat citrus fruits? Can they do so safely? It turns out that the fruit of some citrus is safe for dogs to eat but many dogs have an aversion to citrus. And, some parts of citrus fruit can be harmful to your dog.
The citrus family includes all kinds of favorite foods such as lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, pomelos, and mandarins. Along with having a pleasant fragrance, citrus fruits are known for being high in vitamin C. They also contain flavonoids and limonoids that are healthy for humans. Most of them are juicy so they can be enjoyed as beverages.
Citrus fruits are also low in carbohydrates and calories.
The exact nutritional values of citrus fruit depend on which one is being considered. Limes, for example, are loaded with vitamin C and dietary fiber. They are also a good source of calcium, iron, and copper.
Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, and copper. They are also a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, iron, and magnesium.
Oranges are another excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fiber. They are also a good source of thiamin, folate, and potassium.
Grapefruit is also a very good source of vitamin C and vitamin A. And, it’s a good source of dietary fiber.
On the other hand, a large amount of the calories in citrus fruits come from the sugars in the fruit.
Eating too much of some kinds of citrus can lead to problems. Eating too much citrus can lead to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, headache, and insomnia. Citrus fruits are also high in citric acid. Eating too much citric acid can damage your tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
Can Dogs Have Citrus?
Most dogs are not very fond of sour or bitter taste of fruits such as limes and lemons. Even if they smell or lick one of these citrus fruits, if they taste it, they will usually lose interest. However, there are always a few dogs who might be interested in eating one.
If your dog is diabetic or overweight/obese, talk to your veterinarian before giving him any citrus fruit even in small amounts. These fruits do contain natural sugars which might affect these health conditions.
If your dog wants to eat citrus, the flesh of most citrus fruits won’t harm him – in small amounts. According to veterinary sources, dogs can safely eat the flesh of oranges, tangerines, clementines, and mandarin oranges. In fact, they can eat the flesh of all kinds of oranges. Some dogs like to eat orange pieces since they are sweet compared to other kinds of citrus.
However, dogs should not eat the peel, inner rind, or seeds of oranges. These parts of the orange contain more concentrated oils and chemicals which can be harmful to your dog.
Citrus peel is also hard to digest so it could lead to digestive problems or even a blockage.
Your dog probably won’t want to eat the flesh of lemons or limes, but if he eats a small amount, it should not harm him. However, he should not eat the peels, inner rind, or seeds or these citrus fruits either.
Dogs that eat a large amount of limes, lemons, or other citrus, even the soft flesh, can become ill. They can experience the following symptoms:
- Digestive upset
Some citrus peels contains the essential oils limonene and linalool, as well as a phototoxic compound known as psoralens. They can be toxic to dogs in large amounts. If your dog eats lots of citrus peel, this could be considered poisoning. Your dog could experience more serious symptoms such as:
- Cold limbs
- Excessive drooling
- Liver failure
- Loss of coordination
- Low blood pressure
- Rash or skin irritation
- Sudden death
If you think your dog has eaten a large amount of citrus peels, contact your veterinarian immediately. The prognosis for recovery is good for most dogs especially if you contact the vet quickly.
Some citrus fruits pose a choking hazard to dogs. Many of them are about the same size as a ball or toy so dogs can try to swallow or chew them with serious results. If you give your dog citrus fruit, make sure that you cut it into small, bite-size pieces (without the peel).
How Much Citrus Can You Give Your Dog?
As we mentioned earlier, most dogs will avoid eating some of the sour/bitter citrus fruits such as lemon and lime. If you give your dog some orange pieces, only give one or two sliced, bite-size pieces. Keep in mind that citrus fruits are high in citric acid and sugars. If your dog eats a lot of citrus it can result in diarrhea and other digestive upset.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Citrus?
If your dog likes citrus and eats small amounts without any problems, you could share some with him a couple of times per week. Remember to only give your dog small amounts. Make sure you remove the peel, rind, and seeds. It should only be given as a treat and not as a substitute for something in your dog’s normal meals.
Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and other vitamins. However, most dogs are not fond of the sour/bitter taste associated with fruits such as lemon and lime. Oranges are often more popular with dogs. If your dog likes citrus fruit, you should be able to safely give your dog a few slices of the soft flesh of the fruit as long as you remove the peel, inner rind, and seeds. Giving your dog too much citrus can lead to digestive problems or even toxicity so be careful. If your dog is diabetic or overweight/obese, talk to your veterinarian before giving him any citrus fruit, even in small amounts.