No matter what kind of food we eat, our dogs are always curious about it. They usually come running once human foods hit the kitchen table. Lots of dogs are practically trained by their pet owners to clean up leftover food- unless it’s something harmful like dark chocolate. That does beg the question, is citric acid harmful to dogs? We asked some canine food and nutrition experts to get the full scoop.
We’ve noticed that many pet foods and dog food in the pet food industry contain natural preservatives- a common additive, especially for dry foods, is citric acid.
Most dogs eat citric acid and have no issues, while other foods might upset their digestive tract. In high doses, citric acid can be harmful. Luckily a dog won’t be consuming enough citric acid to cause problems if it’s only through dog food. If a dog does end up consuming too much citric acid, often central nervous system depression can occur (in both dogs and cats actually). Upset stomach and low blood sugar are also common when a dog eats too much food with citric acid. A dog’s digestive system is not designed to play nice with extremely large quantities of acidic compounds! Dairy products are a good way to help your dog get a little more comfortable if you think that they have eaten too much citric acid. Remember, it’s a natural compound, so your dog could get a bad tummy just from sneaking into the fruit basket and taking an orange.
As dog owners, we can’t seem to resist those adorable eyes, but remember that lots of human food is not going to sit well in your dog’s tummy. Lots of human food has high fat content that isn’t good for dogs. Even milk chocolate and baker’s chocolate can be dangerous and bring on liver failure or even death! Not everything we humans normally eat can also be eaten by our beloved pet dogs.
In this post, we will discuss what citric acid is, in particular—including a list of citrus and other fruits which contain citric acid. And we’ll answer the question, “is citric acid safe for dogs?”
What is Citric Acid?
Citric acid, or citrate, is an organic compound that’s naturally found in the citrus fruit family. It is an excellent source of vitamin C for humans. We can obtain vitamin C from citrus fruits such as orange, lemon, lime and many more. It can also be manufactured in the form of additives which are added in some foods, nutritional supplements and even cleaning agents.
Here are some of the most popular citrus fruits which contain citric acid:
- Oranges (mandarin, blood and bergamot)
Here are the other fruits which also contain citric acid but in lesser amounts:
Is Citric Acid Safe for Dogs?
While citric acid is safe for us humans to consume, it can be extremely toxic for dogs. However, feeding your dog with citrus fruits in low levels and in small quantities occasionally is not something to worry about—it can only lead to stomach upset if consumed regularly. Additionally, there are some citrus fruits that are low in citric acid but have high sugar content in them. These fruits should only be fed to your dog as a treat and not the main meal.
Feeding your dog citrus fruits in high levels or in large quantities, on the other hand, is a different story. Doing this will result in your dog having central nervous system problems and depression. In spite of this, dogs do not like the taste of citric acid very much to begin with. In this sense, it is a good relief knowing they’ll avoid a possibly dangerous food instinctively.
Citric acid in dog foods is safe for your dog to eat since it is only used as a natural preservative. When used for this purpose, there are very low levels of citric acid present in the dog food, and definitely not enough to cause harm to your pup. Most dog foods contain a significant amount of fats which are prone to oxidize. With the antioxidants present in citric acid, these will help prevent early spoilage and the loss of nutritional value by helping preserve these fats. Even if your dog eats a ton, there will be no negative side-effects from the small amounts of citric acid used as a natural preservative.
The Bottom Line
For all intents and purposes, citric acid is safe for dogs to eat. However, It can be harmful if citric acid is consumed frequently in high levels or large quantities. A piece of an orange or pineapple every once in a while is fine for your dog if they enjoy it. But remember, not all foods we humans eat can also be eaten by dogs. As responsible dog owners, we should be aware of which types of food our dogs should not eat. So before you start feeding your dog some food off your plate, double check first!