Can Dogs Eat Grapefruit?


A grapefruit is a subtropical citrus fruit that has a slightly sweet and sour flavor. Most dogs don’t like the smell of citrus but there are still a few who tend to eat almost anything, including the citruses.

If your pet ever got into grapefruit, should you call your vet right away? You might have heard or read somewhere that it’s bad for dogs. Is it true that grapefruit is toxic to canines? Learn the truth about grapefruit and dogs from this post.

Is Grapefruit Safe for Dogs?

There are conflicting opinions regarding this matter. Some say the flesh will be fine in small amounts. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the flesh of the fruit can be eaten. Problems only arise when dogs also eat other parts of the plant, as well as the peel. The skin and the other parts of the grapefruit plant can cause adverse effects in dogs.

Given these risks, more sources agree that this fruit should be avoided even in small amounts. It can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. Your dog could suffer from diarrhea, skin itching, and vomiting after consuming grapefruit. In some cases, dogs can also suffer from depression after being exposed to the toxins in grapefruit.

The depression can be caused by several different factors. It is hard to know the real cause why dogs experience depression after eating a lot of grapefruit. But in humans, this fruit actually has a negative effect when eaten if you are taking certain drugs, particularly antidepressants. This is due to the fact that grapefruits contain enzymes that can wipe out the ability of the medications to treat the condition.

Grapefruit poisoning is one of the mild types of poisoning among canines. It is not as lethal as other food items, such as raisins and grapes but it can still cause issues. Regardless of that, we cannot deny the fact that it can still cause ill effects in doggies.

Why Are Grapefruits Toxic to Dogs?

This citrus fruit contains a combination of essential oils and psoralens that cause phototoxic dermatitis in canines when ingested. This is also the reason why other citruses, particularly lemon and lime are considered mildly poisonous to them.

Phototoxic dermatitis might be mistaken for allergic reactions, but there are some differences. They are usually caused by photosensitizing agents. In this case, it’s the psoralens and other essential oils combined. Furthermore, they are much less common in canines compared to allergies.

There is more concentration of toxins on the seeds and skin of grapefruit. If you ever ate some grapefruits, dispose of the peels and the seeds properly. This is important especially if you got a dog that has the habit of raiding the trash.

What To Do If Your Dog Ate Grapefruit?

The mild symptoms, such as stomach upset and skin dermatitis can progress into severe ones if your dog is not treated. So as soon as the first symptom occurred, call your veterinarian right away.

If the ingestion happened less than five hours ago, your vet might advise you to perform induced vomiting. This is done by giving half a teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. This can be performed at home but it is still recommended that you get help from an animal poison control center or a vet if you have not done it before.

Inducing vomiting using hydrogen peroxide should cause your pet to vomit in as fast as five minutes. If it did not take effect after 10 minutes then you can repeat it. Do note that emesis can only be performed twice. If the first and second attempts did not have any effect, call your vet for further assistance.

Other than hydrogen peroxide, vets also use activated charcoal to induce vomiting. It is effective in preventing intoxication. When the dog is not showing any clinical symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, this can be mixed with water to give to your pet orally. Like hydrogen peroxide, activated charcoal can be administered an hour after the ingestion of a toxic substance.

At the clinic, your veterinarian will perform a series of examinations to rule out if it’s really grapefruit that is making your dog sick. If your pet is suffering from skin problems, your vet will likely examine the skin by scraping a small layer of it. Aside from a skin test, your vet will also check how Fido’s organs are handling the essential oils and psoralens. This is done using a chemistry panel or biochemical profile.

In case your pet is suffering from dermatitis, your veterinarian could prescribe a medication to offer relief. The treatment will depend on the level of itching. Antibiotics and oral antihistamines are the usual forms of conventional treatment.

For mild itching, you can definitely try a more holistic approach. But before you do this, make sure that you do your research well. It’s better if you are being guided by a holistic vet through the process. These are the common natural remedies to dermatitis in dogs:

  • Coconut oil – a popular remedy for various skin issues both in humans and pets, coconut oil deserves to be on the top of the list. It can be applied directly to the affected area. For maximum results, you can also give it orally. You can incorporate it into your dog’s homemade dishes.
  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV) – it is effective in treating many skin problems in dogs, including dermatitis. However, it should be diluted in water before applying it to dog’s skin. The recommended amount is 50 percent ACV and 50 percent water.
  • Probiotics – in some cases, vets also suggest using probiotics to strengthen the immune system. They are also known as “good bacteria” and can help your pet tremendously in many aspects apart from boosting his immunity.
  • Vitamin E oil – when your pooch has dermatitis, it goes without saying that the affected area tends to be very itchy and dry. For that, Vitamin E can be of great help. Vitamin E works as an antioxidant but doubles as a moisturizer to lessen the dryness. You can massage a small amount of Vitamin E oil on the infected area.
  • Oatmeal – the last but not the least, is perhaps the safest natural remedy for skin dermatitis. Your favorite breakfast is not just bursting with vitamins and minerals. It also contains phenols and avenanthramides that can help in treating inflammation and itchiness.

However, if the itching or dermatitis is a more severe one, your vet would likely suggest a hypo sensitization therapy to lessen the itchiness. This treatment is effective in up to 80 percent of canines. It’s best to follow your vet’s advice to prevent any worse condition from occurring. This should also serve a lesson that dogs cannot eat citruses particularly grapefruit.


To ensure your dog’s safety, it is better to avoid feeding him grapefruit at all costs. For humans, grapefruits can offer a myriad of health benefits. They are excellent antioxidants and also contain many vitamins. But better not share them with your dog because there are more disadvantages than advantages when we give this fruit to them.

If you want to provide your pet with enough antioxidants and nutrients, there are other foods that you can share with him. Blueberries, carrots, and red bell peppers are rich sources of antioxidants that you can share with your pooch.


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