A dog with a wary expression looking at lemons, showing they are harmful to dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Lemons?

No, dogs should not eat lemons. Although lemons are not toxic, their high acidity and essential oils can cause gastrointestinal distress in dogs. Your pup might instinctively avoid lemons because of their sour taste, but if they don't, it could lead to some nasty side effects.

A photo of Stefan Stumpfl, the co-author of this article.

By Stefan Stumpfl, in collaboration with Dr. Ali Raza.

Updated on Jul 11, 2024

Did You Know?

Lemons contain essential oils and psoralens, which are toxic to dogs in significant quantities.




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Allergic Risk


Why Are Lemons Bad for Dogs?

Lemons are packed with citric acid, which can irritate your dog’s stomach, leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Additionally, the essential oils in lemons, such as limonene and linalool, can be toxic to dogs if ingested in large quantities. Even the lemon peel can pose risks, including potential blockages in their digestive system.

How Much Lemon Can Dogs Eat?

Ideally, dogs should not consume any lemons at all. If your dog happens to lick a lemon slice or two, it’s unlikely to cause serious harm, but it’s best to discourage this behavior. Always monitor your dog for any adverse reactions like upset stomach or lethargy if they do manage to sneak a taste.

Common Misconceptions

Some people believe that a little bit of lemon juice can be beneficial for dogs, perhaps to freshen breath or as a vitamin C boost. This is misleading. Dogs synthesize their own vitamin C, and the risks of stomach upset far outweigh any minor benefits. Better options are available for breath freshening and nutritional supplementation.

Similar Harmful Products

Lemons aren't the only citrus fruits to watch out for. Here are some other citrus fruits and related products that are equally harmful:

  • Limes: Like lemons, they contain high levels of citric acid and essential oils.
  • Grapefruit: This fruit is also acidic and can lead to gastrointestinal issues.
  • Citrus-scented cleaners: These household products often contain essential oils that can be toxic if ingested or absorbed through the skin.

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Lemons?

First things first: If your dog eats a lemon, don't panic. Remove any remaining lemon pieces from their reach and observe for symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or drooling. If these symptoms appear, contact your veterinarian promptly. Avoid trying to induce vomiting, as this can sometimes make the situation worse.

Long-term consequences of ingesting harmful foods might include ongoing digestive issues or even internal damage in severe cases. The treatment can be costly, but that’s where pet insurance comes in handy. Having pet insurance can alleviate financial stress and ensure your furry friend gets the best possible care.

What Are Healthy Alternatives?

Instead of lemons, consider these safe and tasty options for your dog:

  • Blueberries: Low in calories and high in antioxidants.
  • Carrots: Great for dental health and rich in beta-carotene.
  • Apple slices: Just remove the seeds and core; they are crunchy and packed with vitamins.


Lemons are a no-go for dogs. Though not outright toxic, their high acidity can wreak havoc on your pup's stomach. Always stick to dog-friendly fruits and vegetables, and consult your vet for personalized dietary advice. Your furry friend’s health is worth the extra effort.