Can Dogs Taste Lemony Food?

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Introduction

Have you ever seen a video of an adorable dog barking or playing with a lemon, making their "ugly face" at the fruit like they don't like it? If you have, you know it can be adorable, but you also may have wondered if it is safe for dogs to actually eat or taste the lemon. 

Most dogs will not go anywhere near the lemon, let along try and give it a bite, but it is still good to know whether or not lemons are safe for dogs to eat. In short, you want to avoid ever having your dog eat a lemon. It can do much more harm than good.

Signs of a Dog Not Liking a Lemon

We all can tell when our furry friends fall in love with a new food at first bite or how they react when they see their favorite treats come out of the bag. Your dog will be full of joy and excitement. Your dog shows you they love the food you have by wagging their tails, staring at you - fully alert, maybe they bark or whine, they will most definitely drool a ton, and they may even pace around in front of you or paw at your leg. These are some of the ways your pooch is trying to let you know they enjoy the food and would like more. 

On the other hand, it will also be obvious when your dog does not like a certain food. Many dogs will give the food their "ugly face" - meaning they will snarl or show their teeth at the food, or play bow at the food like they don't like it and would rather play with it than eat it! Some dogs may bark at it as well. If you have a very polite dog, perhaps they will just ignore the food you gave them and walk away from it like they are completely disinterested. 

Body Language

These are some signs you may notice if your dog does not like lemons:
  • Pacing
  • Sniffing
  • Dropped Ears
  • Stalking
  • Exposed teeth
  • Play bowing

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you may notice if your dog does not like lemons:
  • Ignoring the Food
  • Showing their teeth/snarling
  • Turning their head away from it

History of Lemons and Dogs

Even though the lemon is such a popular and readily available food, the origin of the lemon is still unknown. It is believed to have possibly originated in India, although this is merely speculation. Lemons have been popular in India for more than 2500 years. Traders from Arabia brought lemons to Africa and the Middle East and they eventually made their way to Europe as well. 

By the 15th century, lemons became so popular in Europe that they were regularly used in cooking and began large-scale cultivation. We then saw lemons introduced to the Americas when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds with him to the new world. By the 1800s, California and Florida were the main lemon cultivators in the United States and commercial production grew. 

Lemons were not just used for cooking, but they were also used for medical purposes. People who suffered from scurvy were often treated with citrus, like lemons, to help cure this dreadful illness. Lemons were also used for prevention. Vitamin C helped to boost the immune system and fight off this deadly infection. Scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C, therefore, the high vitamin C content found in the lemon was able to help individuals become healthy again. 

Science Behind Dogs and Lemons

Lemons are not necessarily toxic to dogs like grapes and raisins are, however, dogs should avoid consuming lemons. Firstly, lemons will not be a pleasant treat for your dog to eat. They are extremely sour and acidic and will not be enjoyable to them. The high acid level in lemons can also cause unpleasant GI upset in your dog. If your dog consumes too much lemon, they can suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, which will not be fun for you or your dog. 

There are many sources that claim lemons are highly toxic to dogs, although this claim is not completely accurate. Your dog would have to consume very large amounts of lemon and eat the entire lemon (pits, seeds, flesh, and peel) to have a severe or life-threatening reaction to lemons. Lemons have strong essential oils and psoralens that can affect your dog's stomach and nervous system if they eat quite a bit of the lemon fruit. If you dog sniffs a lemon or tries to take a single lick of the lemon, they are not going to experience any kind of life-threatening side effects.

There is no reason to feed your dog lemons since they do carry some risks and do not taste particularly good. Your dog will not want to eat this sour fruit. Furthermore, lemons do not carry any nutritional benefits for your dog. 

Although lemons are high in vitamin C and have phytonutrients, there is no good or safe way to delivery enough lemon juice for your dog to reap any of the benefits. Your dog can get the same benefits that lemons have from other dog-friendly and safe sources of fruit like apples, blueberries, and melons. 

Overall, you should avoid giving your dog lemons or keeping lemons in a place where your dog can easily access them. However, letting them sniff a lemon will not do them much harm. It is always important to keep in mind that just because something has toxic properties to your dogs, does not mean any contact with that food will be a massive cause for concern. Often, your dog will have to be exposed to large amounts of the toxic food for them to really be at risk. 

Training Dogs to Avoid Lemons

Just as we discussed above, feeding your dog any part of the lemon can pose some issues. Lemons do not contain any nutritional benefits for dogs and dogs do not like the very strong and tart flavor or lemons. 

If you want more phytonutrients or vitamin C in your dog's diet, there are many other safer and better sources your dog can get those nutrients from. For instance, blueberries and broccoli contain a lot of vitamin C and other minerals that are very healthy for your dog and completely safe for them to eat.

If your dog ever comes in contact with a lemon, there are some commands that would be useful to have your dog know. As with anything you want to keep your dog away from, the "Leave it" command can prove to be invaluable. "No" or "Come" can also be used to get your pooch to leave the fruit alone and turn their attention toward you.

How To React If Your Dog Eats a Lemon:

  • Take any remnants of the lemon away.
  • Determine how much they consumed versus the size of your canine.
  • If your dog got into quite a few lemons, it's time to call the vet.

Safety Tips for Keeping Dogs Away from Lemons:

  • Keep your dog in a crate or safe space while you are out of the house.
  • Keep all human food well out of the dog's reach.
  • Make sure all family members know that the dog should not be given lemons.