Why do dogs act weird around lemons? If you are asking this question, you have likely witnessed a dog acting oddly when you allowed him to sniff or interact with a lemon. This may leave you surprised as dogs seem to be fine with other items that are far more harmful than a lemon (think porcupines and skunks) yet, show them the yellow fruit, and they'll back away as if they just met their worse enemy on earth. What gives?
Most likely, the issue is not an issue of the lemon per se' but it's highly acidic nature. It looks like the majority of dogs find the citrus fruit repulsive causing them to react in odd ways when they're exposed to them. Some dogs will whine, pucker up or back away and some may be so disgusted they'll drool. And the issue doesn't seem to be restricted to lemons as oranges, limes and grapefruit may also top the list of dog's most repulsive fruits on earth. So for sure, you won't ever find Rover selling lemonade at the country fair stand.
We can't blame him though, try to eat a lemon and you'll likely not like it and will make all sorts of sour faces. On top of that, consider that according to the ASPCA, the essential oils and psoralens in lemon plants may cause toxic effects including vomiting, diarrhea, depression and sensitivity to light, while lemon seeds along with the peels and fruit can potentially cause irritation, stomach upset, and in some cases , when ingested in excessive amounts, even central nervous system depression. So while it may be funny to watch dogs acting weird around lemons, dogs seem to have a good reason to hate them.
Dog owners sometimes take advantage of a dog's natural aversion to sour/bitter tastes by using taste deterrents which discourage dogs from mouthing furniture or licking their wounds. A popular product used to discourage a dog from chewing or licking is "Grannick's Bitter Apple Spray." However, interestingly, such taste deterrents don't always work for all dogs, and some dogs seem to care less.
Did you know? According to Stanley Coren, in nature, bad tastes are a red flag that suggests that an animal has encountered something that is potentially harmful, indigestible, or poisonous.