ripe lemons

Lemons are a common ingredient in a variety of dishes, as well as a great source of flavor for everything from water to ice cream. On top of that, lemons have a suspicious resemblance to a dog’s old favorite toy, the tennis ball. It’s almost inevitable that if you have lemons in your home that your dog will eventually come into contact with them.

If your dog does get a hold of a lemon, should you be concerned? Are lemons bad for dogs?

Are Lemons Bad for Dogs?

Lemons and other citrus fruits are not recommended for dogs for two reasons. The first reason is that they are extremely acidic, which can be damaging to the teeth, mucus membranes, and digestive system over time. The second reason that lemons are not recommended for dogs is that they contain essential oils and certain chemical compounds that are toxic to dogs in large quantities.

Lemons, and their cousin the lime, contain psoralens, linalool, and limonene, all of which are toxic for dogs. It’s worth noting that these compounds are safe for humans, which is why we are able to eat lemons and limes without worry. The good news for your dog is that dogs generally find lemons to be wholly unappetizing to actually consume.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

What Should I Do If My Dog Eats a Lemon?

If your dog consumes a whole lemon, you should immediately contact your veterinarian. A whole lemon poses a serious risk of intestinal obstruction to your dog, no matter how large they are. There is also a higher risk of lemon toxicity the more your dog consumes, so a whole lemon is potentially going to be more of a risk than a small slice.

Even if your dog consumes a small amount of lemon, it’s a good idea to notify your vet. They will likely tell you to monitor the situation and notify them if symptoms of toxicity develop, but they may want to see your dog, especially if you have a small dog that has consumed a large quantity of lemon or lemon juice.

Signs of Lemon Toxicity

Lemon toxicity in dogs is generally considered to be mild to moderate toxicity, so it is unlikely to cause life-threatening symptoms. However, if your dog has consumed a large amount of lemon or lemon juice, there is a serious risk to their health and life. Symptoms of lemon toxicity in dogs include mild symptoms like drooling, lethargy, depression, weakness, sensitivity to light, diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, and skin irritation. More severe symptoms include low blood pressure, cold limbs, poor coordination, collapse, liver failure, tremors, and sudden death.

Final Thoughts

Although a slice of lemon every now and then is unlikely to be a serious problem for your dog, it’s best to avoid giving your dog lemon altogether. This also includes lemon juice and lemon essential oils. If your dog consumes any part of a lemon or lemon tree, you should immediately contact your vet or the pet poison control hotline for guidance. There are multiple symptoms that could indicate your dog is experiencing lemon toxicity, so keep an eye out for mild and severe symptoms, especially if you know your dog has consumed a lemon or a lemon has gone missing in your home.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay