Can Dogs Eat Limes? What Are the Risks?

Written by Kristin Hitchcock
Published: January 25, 2023
© Radu Bercan/Shutterstock.com
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Limes may seem like an utterly benign food. However, you should not include limes as a normal part of your dog’s diet. Citrus isn’t easy on a dog’s stomach and causes diarrhea and vomiting. Furthermore, all green citrus fruits can cause lime poisoning if eaten in high amounts.

Luckily, most dogs do not like limes or similar fruits. The sour taste turns a lot of dogs off, preventing them from eating limes. However, dogs are variable, and some may eat limes despite their sour taste. Therefore, you should keep your limes out of reach and avoid giving them to your dog.

Why Are Limes Bad for Dogs

Lime Citrus Fruits In Fruit Market
Can dogs eat limes? Keep reading to find out.

©Radu Bercan/Shutterstock.com

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Limes are not a suitable choice of food for your dog. On top of upsetting your dog’s stomach, they can also cause lime poisoning. Their general unhealthiness can be attributed to a few different things.

Essential Oils

All citrus fruits contain essential oils. It’s what gives them their recognizable flavor. The peels of the fruit are particularly high in limonene and linalool. Both of these oils are toxic to dogs in high amounts.

Limonene can damage your dog’s liver and kidneys. This can occur after only eating lime one time. Unlike other foods, it doesn’t take limonene long to create damage.

Linalool can lower your dog’s blood pressure. Not only can this cause heart issues, but it can also cause hypothermia – even when it isn’t that cold.

Luckily, it takes quite a bit of the essential oil for these negative outcomes to occur. However, avoid exposing your dog to the peel of the citrus fruit to be safe.

Acid

Limes are very acidic. Anyone who has ever tasted a lime knows that. This acidity is caused by citric acid. In humans, citric acid can be digested pretty easily. However, dogs can have a more challenging time with it – especially if they aren’t used to it. If your dog overeats limes, it may experience bloating and other digestive issues.

Because limes are so acidic, it doesn’t take much to upset your dog’s stomach. It can also hurt their throat, creating discomfort.

Sugar

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Smaller dogs are much more sensitive to sugar than larger dogs due to their weight.

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Surprisingly, lime juice is relatively high in sugar. While dogs can digest sugar, they are much more sensitive to it than humans. Therefore, they’re more likely to gain weight and develop health issues from increased sugar intake.

A dog’s size is essential here. Smaller dogs are much more sensitive to sugar than larger dogs due to their weight. However, even the biggest dogs don’t benefit from having sugar added to their diet.

Lime Poisoning

Large amounts of lime can cause lime poisoning. As explained above, the peel poses more of a problem than the fruit itself. While the fleshy part of the lime contains some of these oils, the extracted essential oils cause lime poisoning.

Essential oils of many types are dangerous to dogs. They can be absorbed quickly, which means that poisonings can happen suddenly. Because oils are filtered by the liver, dogs with liver problems will be more prone to lime poisoning. Younger dogs are also more at risk, especially small puppies.

At the very least, lime poisoning can cause gastrointestinal upset. Your dog may vomit, have diarrhea, or appear lethargic. In other words, they won’t make your dog feel good. Luckily, these minor symptoms often resolve on their own. However, there is always a chance of the condition worsening.

Luckily, lime poisoning rarely occurs due to dogs’ reluctance to eat citrus. It would take a tremendous amount of limes to poison a dog – and the sour taste often prevents this from occurring. Usually, it’s the essential oils that are to blame. Still, when in doubt, we recommend contacting your vet right away.

Can I Let My Dog Lick a Lime?

We don’t recommend letting your dog lick a lime. Dogs are susceptible to citrus, and it may only take one lick to upset their stomach. Plus, the essential oils in the lime can complicate matters, though a single lick isn’t enough to cause poisoning.

While it may be funny to see your dog recoil after tasting a sour lime, the discomfort your dog may experience later isn’t worth it.

Of course, different dogs are more sensitive to citrus than others. Smaller dogs are more susceptible to just about every kind of poisoning due to their smaller size. Dogs with liver problems are also more at-risk for lime-related issues, as the essential oils are metabolized through the liver.

Are Lime Popsicles OK for Dogs?

Vizla puppy eating from red bowl on white background
We wouldn’t recommend giving your dog lime popsicles.

©AndrasKiss/Shutterstock.com

We wouldn’t recommend giving your dog lime popsicles, either. Popsicles, per see, aren’t toxic, as they can help your dog stay cool in hot areas. However, the ingredients of a popsicle need to be carefully considered.

Popsicles with “lime flavoring” and other similar ingredients may contain lime essential oil, which is particularly toxic to pets. This oil gives citrus fruits their aroma, so it is often included in artificially flavored popsicles.

Many popsicles also include xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener. While this sweetener is fine for humans, it is highly toxic to dogs. Even a tiny amount can cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This condition can cause seizures, coma, and death if left untreated. Often, popsicles labeled “sugar-free” include xylitol and thus should be avoided.

How Do You Treat Lime Poisoning in Dogs?

If your dog is exposed to a lime essential oil (via actual limes or the extract), any parts of the body that were exposed need to be washed. The essential oil can soak through the dog’s skin, causing poisoning. Your dog doesn’t even need to eat it. Dishwashing detergents like Dawn and water are commonly used.

Dog shampoo should be avoided, as some contain low amounts of lime essential oils for fragrance. While this isn’t usually a problem for most dogs, it should be avoided if your dog already has lime poisoning. For the same reason, avoid citrus detergent.

Vomiting is sometimes recommended, but you should never try to get your dog to vomit. There is a chance your canine may breathe in the oil while vomiting, which can damage the lungs.

At the vet, irrigation is often performed to remove as many toxins as possible from the digestive system. At the same time, activated charcoal may prevent further absorption of the toxic compound.

Sadly, there is no antidote for this condition. It cannot be “cured.” Instead, the treatment revolves around reducing the absorption of the toxin and controlling the symptoms. Often, IV fluids are recommended to prevent dehydration. Many dogs will need to be watched over a day or so to prevent complications from occurring.

Some dogs may have trouble breathing. Therefore, oxygen may be needed. If a dog experiences seizures, then antiseizure medication may be administered.

Final Thoughts

Lime poisoning can be serious. Luckily, it doesn’t often occur, as dogs don’t usually love to eat citrus. Still, it can technically occur if your dog consumes too many lime peels. Therefore, we recommend that your dog avoid eating limes altogether.

Citrus fruits like lime are also harmful to your dog’s stomach. Limes can upset your dog’s stomach, causing vomiting and similar symptoms. Luckily, these symptoms often clear up after a few hours. Typically, they don’t require veterinary attention.

Lime poisoning can be pretty serious, though. Therefore, if your dog consumes citrus essential oils or a ton of limes, you should speak to your vet.

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The Featured Image

Lime Citrus Fruits In Fruit Market
Can dogs eat limes? Check out this article for a complete overview of risks and precautions relating to your pup consuming citrus.
© Radu Bercan/Shutterstock.com

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