Grapefruits are a common fruit that most of us enjoy thanks to their sweet, sour, and tangy taste. They grow in bunches where their pulpy flesh has different colors ranging from red, pink and yellow.
Once ripe, different breeds have different tastes, some having a sweet taste while others are pretty sour. Like other fruits in the citrus family, grapefruits are vitamin-rich and contain many antioxidant properties.
Following their many benefits, you may wonder if your dog can have some too. If dogs can eat mandarins, they can surely eat grapefruits too, right? Wrong!
Although dogs can eat some citrus fruits, not all are safe for them. A good example is grapefruits.
Why are Grapefruits Not Safe For Dogs?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ASPCA, grapefruits are toxic to dogs. The skin contains natural oils that can be harmful when ingested. The flesh was thought not to be toxic but has been discovered to be a major cause of stomach irritation when fed in excess.
While you might have given your dog grapefruit a couple of times without an incident, some canines have been seen to have an adverse reaction after eating the fruit. Like other fruits with seeds and peels, the parts can be fatal when ingested.
Grapefruits can be more dangerous. This is because their toxins might accumulate in your dog’s blood system. Consequently, your dog may experience mild effects such as gastrointestinal upsets. It may also suffer from longer-term symptoms that can be very severe, such as photosensitivity.
Can Dogs Enjoy Grapefruit?
Grapefruit has a strong and distinctive citrus flavor that most dogs don’t enjoy when eating. Some are sour, which is off-putting to dogs, especially those who have a sweet tooth. If your furry friend loves an occasional sweet treat, then feeding them clementine is a better alternative.
Related: Best Dog Treats: 20 Excellent Products for Your Canine Friend
Nutritional Benefits of Grapefruits
As a citrus fruit, vitamin C is a predominant nutrient in grapefruit. The vitamin is known to have numerous health benefits to humans, such as maintaining healthy gums and skin. Vitamin A is also present, contributing to an overall healthy immune system. The vitamins play a vital role in unborn babies’ healthy development.
Some of the nutritional benefits of the fruits humans eat are also prevalent in dogs. However, in grapefruits, that’s not the case; dogs and other animals are known to make vitamin C on their own and don’t need to supplement the nutrient from a diet. Consuming fruits with excess vitamins could make a dog have kidney stones.
If your dog has a mineral deficiency and the mineral is highly present in grapefruit, don’t consider using it as a supplement. The cons of a dog eating grapefruit outweigh the pros. Instead, consider feeding tangerines to your dog as the fruit is dog friendly.
Pros of Feeding Grapefruit to Dogs
While it is not recommended to give dogs grapefruits, not all get to experience the negative effects of consuming them. There are some positives to dogs eating them. They include:
- Contain minerals and antioxidants responsible for a dog’s nutritional boost.
- They are low in calories and hence are a useful snack for weight control.
- Have a high moisture content, making them helpful in maintaining hydration in dogs.
However, it is important to note that your dog can acquire the benefits from other fruits without getting the risks associated with grapefruit. If you must use grapefruit as part of your dog’s diet, talk to your vet first.
Cons of Feeding Grapefruits to Dogs
The risks associated with dogs eating grapefruits outweigh the benefits. Some of the disadvantages associated with dogs eating grapefruits include:
- It is a very acidic fruit that can cause stomach upset.
- The peel and seeds are toxic.
- It has strong flavors which your dog might not enjoy.
Though the fruits have adverse effects on dogs when consumed, your dog may be fine after eating them.
You will need to monitor their health and offers supportive care when they are restless. If the symptoms persist, rush your canine friend to a vet.
Are Grapefruits Toxic to Dogs?
Grapefruits have a high level of citric acid which is not good for your dog’s general health. The acid can irritate your dog’s digestive system causing them to develop symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. A similar effect can be experienced when feeding lemons to dogs.
Seeds and peels of grapefruits are more toxic than the fruit’s flesh. The parts cause more severe stomach issues, skin issues, and lethargy. They are indigestible, and if eaten in large quantities, can cause a blockage in your dog’s throat and stomach. Blockage resulting from peels and seeds can result in surgery if there are complications.
Grapefruit Poisoning in Dogs
If you are suspicious that your dog consumed large quantities of grapefruit, rush it to the vet immediately. Your vet will ask questions to know the medical history of your furry friend. This will be useful when administering medication. They will also check your dog’s vitals by conducting a physical exam.
Blood samples might be required so that the vet can determine how your pet is handling the toxins. If your dog happens to defecate or vomit, samples will be collected.
Depending on your dog’s condition, lab work will be conducted to know how organs are functioning.
Causes of Grapefruit Poisoning
Your dog can get grapefruit poisoning from the psoralens and essential oils found in grapefruits. The psoralens can result in phototoxic dermatitis if your dog eats them and then gets exposed to the sun and UV rays. And, as we have seen above, the seeds and rinds also have toxins.
You should be careful if your dog eats orange peels, as they also contain the same toxins.
Symptoms of Grapefruit Poisoning
The symptoms vary depending on the amount and part of grapefruit your dog ingests. Some of the symptoms include:
While these can be symptoms of any kind of poisoning, you should be extra alert if you know you have grapefruits around.
There is no way of telling how fast the symptoms can occur. However, getting medical attention soon after the poisoning is your dog’s best chance of not suffering too much.
Treating Grapefruit Poisoning in Dogs
Your furry friend’s symptoms will influence the type of treatment your vet uses. If you witnessed your dog eating grapefruit, induced vomiting could be part of the diagnosis. It will remove most of the fruit from your dog’s stomach before it gets absorbed. You can use activated charcoal to neutralize the toxin levels and reduce the amount of toxin buildup.
If your dog’s body has already absorbed the toxins and your pup is vomiting and passing loose stool, the vet can apply the use of intravenous fluids (IV) to stop dehydration.
Any skin condition that will develop due to grapefruit poisoning can be treated by using medical cream or ointment.
Recovery from Grapefruit Poisoning in Dogs
Because of the dangerous effects of grapefruits on dogs, it is important to ensure your dog doesn’t wander close to anywhere they are. This is especially vital if you own a grapefruit tree. Grapefruit intoxication can be fatal to dogs if it goes untreated.
Go to the vet as soon as possible after your dog exhibits signs of grapefruit poisoning. This is a necessity just like it is when your dog eats limes, especially the peel or seed, after which they can get psoralen poisoning.
Detoxification is the most important thing if this happens to your dog. This increases your dog’s chances of having a full recovery. The longer you wait before going to the vet, the more you reduce your dog’s chances of a full recovery.
Note that treating grapefruit poisoning can be very expensive and take a chunk out of your pocket. To prevent all this hustle, do your best to keep your dog away from grapefruits.
Can Grapefruit Kill a Dog?
Though your dog can experience severe symptoms after eating grapefruit, it will most likely not kill it. If consumed in large quantities, the severity of the symptoms can be excruciating. It is wise to rush your pet to a vet for treatment.
If your dog still wants a taste of something citrusy when you deny them grapefruits, you can substitute them with something else. For example:
Some dogs find clementine sweet and might enjoy them. These can be a nice alternative to settle their craving for citrus fruits. However, limit their intake to at most two sections a day because of its high sugar content.
Even veterinarians agree that dogs can eat oranges. Your dog might, however, not be a big fan of the fruit because of its strong smell. You can limit their orange intake to one piece a day.
Dogs can also enjoy tangerines, but only to a point. Some dislike their citrusy taste, while others might like it. Monitor your dog’s reaction to the fruit to decide whether you can feed or avoid it altogether.
So now you know, you should not feed your dog grapefruit. Ensure your dog is not near any grapefruits or doesn’t accidentally find some in the trash.
In case it somehow manages to find some, take it to the vet immediately if you notice any adverse reaction.
As mentioned above, there are several alternatives to the fruit. But still, limit your dog’s intake as taking citrus fruits in excess can result in digestive issues.