You may enjoy grapefruit but this is one fruit that you should definitely not give your dog. Even if your dog looks at you pleadingly with big eyes and acts like he wants to try it, grapefruit is not recommended for dogs (or for cats). We’ll tell you more below.
Is Grapefruit Good for Dogs?
Most dogs aren’t very tempted to eat citrus, including grapefruit. Grapefruit has a bitter taste that doesn’t appeal to dogs in general. Technically, dogs can eat the flesh of the grapefruit, according to Purina but it’s highly acidic and can cause digestive problems. The flesh of the grapefruit is not toxic but the peel, the seeds, and the plant parts are.
Because it is highly acidic, grapefruit seed extract is used in some dog foods as a natural preservative. It’s used in such small amounts in dog food that it shouldn’t have any harmful effects on dogs.
If your dog eats grapefruit, even peeled or cut into small slices with the peel removed, it can lead to an irritated, upset stomach. Grapefruit has so much citric acid that it can upset your dog’s digestive system. Your dog might only have mild gastrointestinal upset but some dogs have more severe symptoms that last longer.
Grapefruit also contains something called psoralens. Psoralens in plants can cause phototoxic dermatitis when they are eaten and the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun. This can cause your dog’s skin to break out when he’s out in the sun.
The skin or rind of the grapefruit also has essential oils which are toxic to dogs, along with psoralens. Grapefruit seeds also contain psoralens.
What Do to If Your Dog Eats Grapefruit
If your dog eats grapefruit, especially the peel, seeds, or parts of the plant, call your veterinarian right away. Symptoms of grapefruit poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and in some cases, photosensitive dermatitis. Symptoms will vary from dog to dog.
Can Dogs Eat Other Citrus Fruits?
Yes, they can! Most citrus fruits are not as acidic as grapefruits. Dogs can eat small amounts of orange and tangerine, for example. You can offer your dog a slice of orange and see if he likes it. Watch to see if he has any digestive upset. If he reacts well to eating the slice you can add small amounts of orange (or tangerine) to his diet. As always, keep in mind that your dog doesn’t really need fruit in his diet so he should only have small amounts.
Some dogs don’t like citrus fruits at all. If your dog isn’t interested in an orange slice, don’t worry about it. Citrus fruits aren’t really part of a dog’s natural diet anyway. Your dog will get the vitamins and minerals he needs from his regular diet.
We recommend that you don’t give grapefruit to your dog. While grapefruit flesh is, technically, not toxic to dogs, it’s very acidic and can cause digestive upset. The peel, seeds, and plant parts, however, are toxic to dogs and can cause long term digestive problems as well as photosensitive dermatitis in some cases. Most dogs aren’t tempted to eat grapefruit anyway because of it’s tart-bitter taste. Try offering your dog a slice of orange instead.