5 Reasons Why Grapefruit Is Highly Toxic To Dogs

Dogs Shouldn't Eat Grapefruit

Imagine a situation: you’re peeling a grapefruit for yourself, and your dog is eyeing the fruit with longing. Just one look at those longing eyes and you’re forced to think: should I give my dog the fruit? The thought of your pup’s pleading eyes – and that tongue – is just too much, and you cave. Although it is completely understandable to want to share your food with your dog, especially if it’s a juicy piece of fresh fruit like grapefruit, it isn’t actually a good idea. Grapefruit is highly toxic to dogs and here’s why!

According to ASPCA, grapefruit peel, seeds, and pith contain a compound called psoralen, which is toxic to dogs. Psoralen leads to the release of cyanide when ingested. Dogs can’t break down psoralen, so they absorb an unsafe amount into their system that lingers for hours after ingestion. And, to make matters worse, psoralen degrades quickly. This means the toxin is released at unsafe levels after only thirty minutes of ingestion. But what are the side effects of feeding grapefruit to my dog, you ask? Well, here are 5 reasons why dogs shouldn’t eat grapefruit:

1. Vomiting

The first and most obvious reason grapefruit should not be given to your dog is that it can induce vomiting. Your dog will probably throw up at the scent of the citrus fruit, but what will he throw up? Not just that – but everything else he’s eaten that day. As I’ve mentioned above, dogs can’t break down psoralens present in the grapefruit, which gets absorbed into their system.

As a natural reaction against toxic substances, the dog’s body will try to expel these toxins through vomiting. Belching isn’t necessarily life-threatening, but prolonged vomiting can be. Vomiting, in dogs, can be deadly if it turns into dehydration. It is for this reason that you should not feed any toxic foods to your dog unless you have been given specific instructions from your veterinarian.

2. Diarrhea

If you’re lucky, your dog will only vomit after eating grapefruit. If you’re not, s/he might also experience diarrhea. Although it might seem like a mere discomfort, it can actually be hazardous to your dog’s health. Small bouts of watery stools are fine, but recurrent diarrhea can be dangerous for your pup. Similar to vomiting after eating grapefruit, diarrhea is caused by your dog’s inability to break down the psoralens in the grapefruit. Moreover, the released cyanide might lead to increased bowel movement.

If your dog experiences diarrhea, s/he is at risk of losing water and electrolytes in his/her system. Without proper hydration and treatment, diarrhea can lead to dehydration and electrolyte depletion. Dehydration is dangerous in dogs because it can quickly lead to shock and organ failure. Treatment is simple if caught early: you need to give your dog plenty of fluids and electrolytes.

Also Check Out: 10 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Feeding Grapes To Dogs

3. Lethargy and Muscle Tremors

Once again, without proper hydration and electrolyte replacement, your dog’s body will begin to shut down. With the dehydration and electrolyte issues, you’re left with muscle tremors. Lethargy and muscle tremors can be dangerous for your dog. Your dog will likely lose the ability to walk and move around. In addition, if left untreated muscle tremors can lead to serious muscle and organ damage. The dog will also begin to suffer from seizures, especially if he/she has low levels of energy due to dehydration. If you think your dog’s symptoms might just be dehydration, give him plenty of water and electrolytes until the issue resolves.

4. Depression

Along with lethargy, muscle tremors, and dehydration, grapefruit poisoning can also lead to depression. Depression in dogs commonly manifests as an unwillingness to move, difficulty breathing or panting, and overall lack of energy. With the inability to move or play around after eating grapefruit, the dog will likely feel depressed. He/she will begin to lose interest in everyday activities, which will only make him more lethargic. Without proper treatment, the depression can worsen and lead to a serious case of lethargy along with a myriad of health problems.

Related: 10 Warning Signs Of Depression In Dogs

5. Photosensitive Dermatitis

One of the other side effects of grapefruit poisoning is photosensitive dermatitis. This skin condition is characterized by skin inflammation after being exposed to sunlight. It is usually not dangerous and does not cause much pain. However, it can become serious if not treated. Your dog will experience a lot of itching and redness, and will likely scratch his own skin to the point of bleeding. If untreated, photosensitive dermatitis can lead to poor healing and scarring. It is for this reason, once again, dogs shouldn’t eat grapefruit.  You must only feed your dog food that your veterinarian has authorized.


In conclusion, dogs shouldn’t eat grapefruit. Grapefruit is a fruit to be enjoyed by humans – not by dogs. Our canine buddies lack the enzymes necessary to break down the psoralens present in grapefruits. As a result, dogs can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, muscle tremors, depression, and photosensitive dermatitis. However, if you’ve already given your dog the fruit and he/she has already eaten it – don’t panic! The most important thing you can do is watch out for your dog’s condition and behavior. If you notice any changes, seek immediate veterinary attention. Don’t wait until the condition becomes even worse before taking action. Keep your dog safe by keeping him healthy and avoiding unnecessary risks like feeding him grapefruit.

Thank you for reading the article.

To explore more, check out our other articles on grapes for dogs.

Has your dog ever helped himself/herself to a serving of grapefruit? What was their reaction like after eating it? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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