Can Dogs Eat Lemons and Limes?
Are lemons bad for dogs? Yes! So when life gives you lemons, keep them away from your dog at all costs!
Limes are toxic to dogs as well. Any type of citrus fruit is poisonous and can have severe effects on your pet, so be careful where you leave your fruit bowl.
Citrus fruits contain the essential oils, limonene and linalool. As well as these oils, they have phototoxic compounds called psoralens. In small amounts, these substances are only likely to cause gastrointestinal upset. In larger doses, the threat is much more significant.
The symptoms of citrus fruit poisoning come from the combination of the psoralens and the essential oils.
- Cold limbs
- Excessive drooling
- Liver failure
- Loss of coordination
- Low blood pressure
- Photosensitivity (sensitivity to light)
- Skin irritation
- Sudden death
If you see your dog eating a citrus plant and they start to display symptoms, visit your vet immediately. They will ask you questions about the plant and your dog to determine the most effective treatment plan. Questions might include:
- How much of the citrus plant did they eat?
- Which part of the plant?
- How long ago did they eat it?
If you didn't see your dog eat the plant, your vet would usually take a urine sample, blood chemistry profile, and a complete blood count. These will determine what toxin is causing distress.
Any skin reactions, vomit or stool will be analysed for toxins by your vet. They may also measure your pet's reflexes and coordination to work out which specific areas of their nervous system have been affected by the poisoning.
- Don't induce vomiting as breathing in the essential oils can be harmful to your dog's lungs.
- Limonene and linalool are present in many dog shampoos as a fragrance. Avoid products with them when removing citrus oils.
If your dog has made the sour choice to eat lemons, lemon juice or any other variant of citrus fruit, the symptoms will probably be mild depending on how much they've eaten.
Hopefully, if they vomit quickly afterwards, they will be able to physically remove as much as possible before the toxins fully absorb into the body.
If not, there are various treatments available. Firstly, take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. Citrus fruits are so toxic to dogs, and it's better to be safe than sorry.
Stomach Pump - The most effective treatment is a stomach pump as it will remove as much of the toxin as possible from the digestive system.
If your dog has eaten products with an intense concentration of citrus or in large quantities, go to your vet immediately.
Activated charcoal would then neutralise any more toxins from being absorbed.
Water - If dealing with a minimal amount of lemon or lime, withhold feeding your dog for 24 hours. Just giving them water will flush out the fruit quicker. Watch out for signs that the poisoning is getting worse, such as an upset stomach.
If necessary, go to your vet to get them checked.
Bath - If exposed to concentrated oils (e.g. lemon essential oils) through the skin, the best thing to do is bath your dog immediately.
Wash them in warm, soapy water until the smell of citrus and all traces of the oil has gone. Dry your dog, keep them warm, and monitor for further symptoms developing.
IV fluids/additional treatments - Often, IV fluids are used to combat dehydration, speed up the flushing process and adjust any imbalances that might develop.
If your dog is struggling to breathe, the vet will give them oxygen. If your dog has acute tremors, they will get antiseizure medications.
There is no remedy for either the psoralens or the essential oils so apart from decontamination, treatment is only supportive. Therefore, if you know your dog has eaten a lemon or lime, you need to take action immediately.