4 min read


Why Dogs Don't Like Citrus



4 min read


Why Dogs Don't Like Citrus




There are certain things which dogs typically like and they include taking long walks, chasing squirrels, playing fetch, belly rubs, running around, and perhaps eating. There are a few exceptions now and then, but these truths apply to the majority of dogs. Similarly, there also seems to be a general accord among dogs on things they dislike or what they find repulsive, and the smell of citrus is apparently high on that list. It is difficult to imagine that one of the things that dogs find unpleasant one of the smells which humans seem to favor a lot. However, you may find that this may work wonders for you in more ways than one. 

The Root of the Behavior

It does not matter what type of citrus, orange, lemon, grapefruit, or limes; nearly all dogs dislike citrus. The only consolation about this is that although they abhor the smell, it is not dangerous to them and this can come in handy for use around the house and in the yard. You can use citrus as a natural and safe way to keep canines away from unwanted areas. Cut up citrus fruits and place them strategically around the house in areas you need to be protected. There are some dogs that try to chew the end of tables or chairs and the strong smell of citrus will help prevent dogs from chewing furniture. Mixing citrus peel with ground coffee left over in your coffee pot is a great fertilizer for your plants and flowers. This actually hits two birds with one stone since it prevents your dog from digging up your flowers while feeding your plants with the nutrients they need. However, be cautious when using acidic fruits because you would not want your house to smell so bad that your dog will start thinking it’s a dump.

To determine how your dogs feel about citrus, peel an orange so that your fingers are covered with its juice then put them near your dog’s nose. If your dog backs away and makes a face that is not so pleasant then you can bet that he is a member of the club that hates citrus. If your dog starts licking your fingers, then it means he is one of the very few canines in the world who love citrus and this means you won’t be able to use citrus around the house as a deterrent. Don’t fret though, because there are other things that your dog might be repulsed by. For example, some dogs are fine with citrus but they won’t go in a room where you used vinegar. So, what you can do is try out different scents in various parts of the house? 

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Encouraging the Behavior

If you are at your wit’s end finding a safe deterrent to use around the home or in the garden to prevent your dog from scratching the door or gnawing furniture, you will be very happy to know that there are certain smells which canines dislike. As a matter of fact, they positively hate these smells so using them strategically, such as citrus peels, will do a great job of keeping dogs away from your furniture. The great thing about citrus is that they do not hurt your dogs so you can safely use them at home. Keep in mind, however, that the ASPCA has listed lemons as one of the fruits that are actually harmful to canines, as well as cats and horses. Lemons contain poisonous components such as psoralen compounds. There is a possibility that if your dog gets his paws on a lemon, he may suffer side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and unusual light sensitivity. If your dog does ingest lemons accidentally, call the veterinarian. Never let your dog eat lemons or any other human food unless you are 100% sure that it is safe for them. Make sure that all things that might be toxic to your dog are away from them so they remain healthy. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

How sensitive your dogs are to a specific scent largely depends on their breed and partially on their unique personality traits. Some breeds have a certain personality trait while other breeds also have different personality traits but one thing remains true, dogs have a very powerful olfactory sense. They are born to sniff. A dog’s brain is also specialized in identifying scents. The part of their brain that is devoted to smell is 40 times larger than that of a human's. It is estimated that dogs have the ability to identify smells up to 10,000 times better than humans! No wonder they are very sensitive to certain scents, including citrus.


Your dog’s repulsion to citrus scents is actually not a new thing. The majority of dogs do not like citrus and this may work to your advantage if you are trying to make them avoid certain places or certain things in the house. However, do keep in mind that said citrus fruits may have harmful effects if ingested accidentally so be careful with them.

By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze

Published: 02/09/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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