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Can Dogs Eat Grapefruit? Is Grapefruit Safe Or Toxic To Dogs?


Last Updated: August 25, 2023 | 6 min read | Leave a Comment

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This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not substitute as contact with a trained professional. If your dog ate grapefruit and is reacting adversely, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

The grapefruit is a citrus fruit that grows in clusters like grapes, hence the name! Its flesh ranges in color from yellow to pink and red, and its taste also varies, some being quite sweet and others sour. Like oranges, it’s in the citrus family which means it’s packed with vitamins and antioxidants. But is grapefruit good for dogs? Will your pup even like it?

Packed with vitamins, such as vitamins A and C, as well as nutrients like fiber, potassium, lycopene, and choline, grapefruit is a healthy choice for humans looking to improve heart, skin, dental, and immune health. But just because we see the benefits, doesn’t mean it’s beneficial to our canine companions.

Grapefruit is a popular low-calorie fruit many people enjoy eating, but is it safe to share with our pups? This article explores the pros and cons of feeding grapefruit to your dog. Let’s jump in!

Is Grapefruit Safe For Dogs?

Peeled Citrus Fruit
Some  parts of the grapefruit that are toxic to dogs.

No, grapefruit is not safe for dogs! According to the ASPCA, the skin (or peel) and the grapefruit plant itself are toxic to our pets. The flesh is not thought to be dangerous, but it can cause tummy irritation to dogs if fed in high quantities.

Many dog owners have given grapefruit to their dogs without incident, but some canines can be sensitive to its effects. Like many other fruits that contain seeds, or have outer skin, Grapefruit can be potentially fatal to dogs.

Nutritional Benefits

Small Fluffy Dog With Citrus Fruit
Grapefruit is filled with many nutrients and vitamins that contribute to skin, dental, and immune health.

Grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C in humans, which helps maintain healthy skin and gums. A high level of vitamin A also contributes to a healthy immune system, and folate plays a critical role in the healthy development of unborn babies. It is a healthy, low-calorie snack enjoyed by many people.

While some of these nutrients may also benefit our pets, others are actually not required. People (including guinea pigs!) need vitamin C in their diets from external food sources, while dogs and most other animals can make it for themselves.

Is Grapefruit Good For Dogs?

Human Hands Giving Dog Open Citrus Fruit
There are many other fruits that provide more benefits but are less risky than grapefruit.

While dogs can benefit from some nutrients in grapefruit, the cons of feeding it outweigh the pros. When your pup eats a complete commercial diet, he should be getting all the nutrients he needs.

Extra sources of vitamins or minerals are unnecessary in most cases, but you may enjoy giving fruit or vegetables as an occasional treat. You will be best off spending your money on good quality dry dog food if you are concerned about their nutritional intake rather than supplementing them with fruits like grapefruit.

Do Dogs Like Grapefruit?

Sliced Juicy Citrus Fruit
Grapefruit tends to have a sour taste that most dogs don’t like.

Most dogs do not enjoy grapefruit. The taste of grapefruit ranges from sweet to sour, but it usually has quite a strong and distinctive citrus flavor. Most dogs find this taste off-putting and usually avoid eating grapefruit and other citrus fruits. If you want to give your pup a tasty treat, you might want to consider something else instead!

Pros Of Feeding Dogs Grapefruit

Small Fluffy Puppy With Halved Fruit
Though the skin is toxic, there are a few benefits of grapefruit flesh.

There are a few positives to feeding grapefruit flesh to a canine, which includes:

  • The fruit is low in calories, which can make it a helpful snack when keeping weight under control
  • They contain a high moisture content which is useful for maintaining hydration
  •  It contains vitamins and antioxidants, which can provide your pup a nutritional boost

However, it is worth bearing in mind that all these benefits can be gained from a variety of other fruit and vegetables, without the associated risks. And definitely don’t put your dog on a grapefruit diet as a means of weight loss!

Is Grapefruit Bad For Dogs?

Silly Dog With Halved Fruit in Front of Eyes
Veterinarians do not recommend grapefruit for canine consumption.

It is not advisable to give your pup grapefruit in large quantities or regularly. The flesh is high in citric acid and can irritate the digestive system, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Similar effects will be seen in dogs that drink grapefruit juice.

The peel and seeds are even more problematic to our pets. These are the toxic part of the fruit and can cause more severe tummy upsets and other issues, such as lethargy and skin problems.

In addition to the skin being toxic, it is also indigestible and should not be consumed for this reason. If your dog does accidentally eats large quantities of the skin, it could cause a blockage in their stomach or guts, which may require emergency surgery.

Cons Of Feeding Dogs Grapefruit

Cut Up Fruit in a Bowl
There are risks to feeding dogs grapefruit that outweigh the benefits.

The downsides and risks of eating grapefruit will outweigh any benefits in most cases. You should carefully consider the following:

  • The flesh of this fruit is very acidic and can cause tummy upsets
  • The skin, pips, and plant are all toxic to dogs
  • It carries a strong citrus flavor which is not something dogs particularly enjoy
  • There are better ways of giving your pup a treat or extra nutrients

As a side note, you should try to keep any unprepared grapefruit out of reach from your canine companion. If he accidentally gets a hold of and ate a large quantity of this fruit, it could make him very unwell. So, keep fruit up high in a fruit bowl so they cannot reach or shut it in a cupboard out of sight.

If Fido accidentally eats a lot of grapefruit, call your veterinarian. If your pup hasn’t already vomited through stomach irritation, your vet may need to induce this via medication to try and get them to expel the toxic skin and pips. Attempt to get him to the clinic as soon as possible as this treatment is more effective the earlier it is given.

Many dogs do just fine after eating grapefruit but may need supportive treatment if they are feeling particularly unwell. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you further.

So, Can I Feed My Dog Grapefruit?

Rottweiler Puppy Tilting Its Head and Looking at Camera
Your pup may beg for a bite but only offer a small amount, as there are some hazards associated with the fruit.

Technically, the flesh is okay if given in small quantities and is unlikely to cause any major concerns. However, you will find most dogs don’t enjoy its sharp taste and flavor. It would be better to offer some of these fruits as an alternative, occasional, treat instead:

  • Apples: a good, crunchy snack, best served without the pips and tough core
  • Banana: a filling treat many dogs enjoy the texture of
  • Blueberries: a great little snack that requires little preparation before feeding and is high in antioxidants
  • Melon: all types of melon are safe for dogs to eat and are a good warm weather treat due to their high water content, especially watermelon.
  • Mangoes: an exotic sweet snack, serve without the large pit to avoid any blockages in their digestive tract
  • Pears: a safe snack, best served without the skin and core
  • Peaches: a non-toxic fruit and safe for your pet to eat as long as you remove the pit
  • Strawberries: a handy treat that doesn’t require much preparation

Most dogs won’t like eating any fruit at all, so never force them. It may be best to stick to your pet’s usual diet or try offering other dog-safe snacks such as strips of cooked lean chicken and vegetables like carrots and cucumber. Remember to introduce anything new to your dog very slowly and feed in moderation, as too much of any fruit or vegetable could cause stomach upset.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is citrus okay for dogs?

Oranges and tangerines are the only citrus fruits considered okay to give dogs. Other citrus fruit such as lemons and limes can irritate a dog’s stomach and intestines if eaten in large quantities. The skins and seeds of these fruits also contain toxic compounds which can cause harm to dogs, including essential oils and a phototoxic chemical called psoralen.

Can grapefruit kill dogs?

While grapefruit is unlikely to kill your dog, it may cause some unpleasant side effects if eaten in large quantities. Upset stomachs are most likely, and potentially dermatitis (skin irritation). Contact your veterinarian if your pup has eaten a large volume of grapefruit or is sick in any way.

What fresh fruits can dogs eat?

Several other fruits would be safer for dogs to eat. These include apples, bananas, blueberries, melon, mangoes, pears, and strawberries. Make sure any fruit you offer has been appropriately prepared (skin and pits removed) and you only give small quantities at a time.

Can dogs get grapefruit poisoning?

Not as such, you are more likely to see non-specific signs such as stomach upsets and lethargy, particularly if your dog has eaten the skin or seeds of the fruit. Dermatitis (skin irritation) is seen in some cases, which can worsen with exposure to sunlight. If your dog has eaten a large quantity or appears sick, then you should call your veterinarian immediately.

Final Thoughts

While grapefruit does contain some nutrients which could be of benefit to our pets, most of these can be obtained from safer sources. Vitamin C is the main nutrient humans eat grapefruit for, but this is something dogs don’t need from external sources.

If you are still determined to offer grapefruit to your dog, make sure it is a very small amount and stick to the flesh only. If you see any signs of ill health after consumption, you should monitor them closely and contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Chihuahua Looking Up From Laying on the Ground

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