Healthy or Not So Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet: Citrus

The next ingredient we’re covering in our ongoing series on Healthy or Not So Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is Citrus. Citrus makes up a big part of human’s daily diet, especially breakfast, but is it good for your pet?

What is citrus?

Citrus is a category of fruit that includes oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and pomelos. They are a flowering tree and shrub in the rue family, Rutaceae.

Why would it be in pet food? 

While the Vitamin C found in citrus fruits is beneficial to humans, your dogs and cats do not typically need that vitamin supplemented in their diet. While not a frequently sourced ingredient in pet food, it can be found in some in small amounts, most likely to add flavor or some zing from the citric acid.  Vitamin C and Ascorbic Acid can also act as a preservative to help keep the food fresh.

Are there any risks to feeding your pet citrus?

There can be risks in feeding your pet citrus. The high sugar content and acid in these fruits can cause digestive issues in your pet and may lead to stomach distress or diarrhea. 

Pay heed to the following cautions:

  1. Small amounts of oranges and mandarins are okay. Lemons, limes and grapefruit however should not be fed to your pet due to the high levels of citric acid found in the flesh. Most pets do not enjoy the sour taste either. 
  2. Citrus plants are also toxic, so be sure and keep your pet away from the leaves or branches of a citrus tree.
  3. The rinds and seeds from a citrus plant are quite toxic and may even cause a blockage in some pets, so be sure not to allow them access to these discards. If you see evidence your pet has eaten a discarded rind, you should notify your veterinarian for advice.

Citrus Factoids:

The United States has over 1 million acres of land devoted to citrus production.

Citrus fruits are native to Southeast Asia where they have been cultivated for over 4,000 years.

An orange tree can grow to reach 30 feet and live for over a hundred years.

Pet foods that contain citrus:

(dog) Pronature™ Holistic Duck a la Orange 

(dog) Farmina™ Natural & Delicious Chicken & Ancestral Grain Light Medium & Maxi

(cat) Drs. Foster & Smith™ Healthy Aging Healthy Aging Chicken  


Personalize your pet’s daily meals.

Feed the right amount each day with the SmartFeeder and SmartDelivery.