Are lime trees poisonous to dogs?

We share our homes with our adorable and lovable pets and it is only right that before we add something to our yards we make sure that it is safe and pet-friendly. One common question I hear from new home gardeners who would like to try growing lemon and lime trees in their backyards is, “Are lime and lemon trees bad or poisonous to dogs?” Yes they can be potentially dangerous for your dogs. Let us discuss the issue in detail.

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Lemon and Lime Poisoning in Dogs

Dogs do not enjoy the sour taste of fruits from lemon lime trees and are unlikely to eat a lime fruit or leaves from a Kaffir Lime tree voluntarily. However, some pets could get curious and try munching on leaves that fall on the ground or bite into low-hanging fruits on a dwarf lime tree that they might mistake for a toy. Your dog might get ill from eating any part of a lime and lemon tree – leaves, peel, or fruit – since they contain psoralens compounds and essential oils like limonene and linalool which are toxic to dogs. The level of toxicity and the danger it brings your dog depends on the amount of lemon lime tree leaves or how many fruits your dog consumed.

  • Psoralen – a plant compound present in citrus trees like lemon and lime trees. It is commonly used to treat skin disorders but may induce phototoxicity or photosensitivity wherein the skin or eyes become terribly sensitive to sunlight and other forms of light.
  • Limonene – All citrus fruits, including lime lemon tree fruits, produce limonene which is a terpene that is responsible for the aroma the fruits emit. It is often used as an aromatic ingredient for manufacturing cosmetic products, cleaning products, and flavoring compounds. Ingesting d-limonene is bad for your dogs because it contains insecticidal properties and will metabolize in your pet’s liver causing toxicity, poisoning, liver damage, or worse liver failure.
  • Linalool – This is another terpene present in all standard and dwarf lime trees that contributes a floral scent to fruits’ citrus aroma. Aside from its fragrance, it is also used as an insecticide in soaps and lotions. If your dog ingests leaves or parts of the fruit, your dog will likely have a concentrated level of linalool and severe symptoms may last for a long time and may likely cause liver damage or liver failure. Linalool is more dangerous to puppies and younger dogs compared to adult dogs so be careful when you have young pets at home.

Symptoms of Toxicity in Dogs   

If you are worried that your dogs may have eaten leaves off your Kaffir Lime trees or fruits from any lemon/lime tree you have at home check for the symptoms we have listed below to easily determine if your dog is experiencing Lemon and Lime poisoning:

  • Cold limbs
  • Collapse
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Liver failure
  • Loss of coordination
  • Low blood pressure
  • Photosensitivity 
  • Rash or skin irritation
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

If your dogs are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms after ingesting leaves from your Keffir Lime tree or fruits from your lime tree, consult a veterinarian right away so proper medical treatment may be provided.