Can Dogs Eat Oranges?

Written by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker
Puppy with Orange

Story at-a-glance -

  • Oranges are OK as dog treats, as they may provide nutrients like vitamin C, potassium and fiber
  • Excessive intake may lead to gastrointestinal upsets, but are not toxic
  • Cats, being obligate carnivores, probably won’t eat oranges, but they are not toxic if consumed
  • Consult your veterinarian to find out which foods are suitable for your pet’s health status

Citrus fruits like oranges are well-loved by people because of their juicy texture, sweet and refreshing flavor, and vital health benefits. However, if you’re enjoying some oranges and suddenly notice your dog eyeing a piece or two, you may be curious if your pet can tolerate this fruit or not. Keep reading to discover if dogs can eat oranges, and whether they could provide benefits to your canine companion’s well-being.

Are Oranges Good for Dogs?

According to Dr. David Dilmore of the Banfield Pet Hospital, oranges, tangerines and clementines are nontoxic to dogs.1 Oranges are suitable as dog treats, as they provide nutrients like vitamin C, potassium and fiber, while being low in sodium.2

These nutrients may promote better immune system health in dogs, too. Vitamin C in particular may play a role in improving dogs’ immune system function and may benefit collagen production.  When dogs eat mandarins, oranges and tangerines, they also get other vital nutrients such as fiber, potassium and folate.3

In a PetMD article, Dr. Stephanie Liff of the Brooklyn Care Veterinary Hospital notes that vitamin C may be useful for dogs who have ingested toxic substances such as onion powder, propylene glycol and other toxins.

Dr. Christine Keyserling of The Animal Medical Center in New York also adds that while most dogs do not require additional vitamin C supplementation, giving your canine companion just the right amount of oranges can be helpful. This is because the ability of your dog’s liver to produce vitamin C can decline due to extreme exercises or long periods of stress.4

What Quantity of Oranges Are Safe for Dogs?

Dilmore advises that one to two orange segments daily may be good for dogs, as higher amounts may cause loose stools. Before you feed oranges to your dog, be sure to discard their seeds and remove the peel.

Oranges contain natural sugars, so feed oranges and other citrus fruits in moderation. Liff reiterates, “Oranges can affect blood values in diabetic dogs, more due to the vitamin C than the sugar levels, and would be best avoided in these patients.”  Lower glycemic vegetables would be a more appropriate treat choice for diabetes dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Orange Peels?

Do not feed dogs orange peels. These tend are rough on your dog's digestive tract,  as they are difficult to break down, which may result in digestive problems like gastrointestinal upset.5,6

Furthermore, pet insurance company Trupanion highlights that poisonous oils and found on orange seeds, leaves, peel or stems may cause potentially life-threatening adverse effects if consumed by dogs.7

Is Orange Juice Good for Dogs?

While your dogs can have a small amount of oranges, you should be cautious about feeding them orange juice, and there’s really no reason to offer juice to pets.

In general, dogs should not drink commercially produced orange juice because it’s often loaded with high quantities of sugars (natural8 or artificial) that may trigger health problems or worsen existing health conditions. For instance, orange juice may lead to dental issues such as a decrease in the enamel of your dog’s teeth.

Allowing dogs to have orange juice may also expose them to high amounts of citric acid. While this substance is naturally found in oranges, too much of it can trigger stomachaches or increase the risk for chronic stomach problems. In some cases, your dog may pass acidic stools or experience a burning sensation when defecating.9

Can Cats Eat Oranges?

While these citrus fruits are potentially beneficial for dogs, cats will most likely not consume oranges at all. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) emphasizes that orange skin and peel are toxic for cats and other animals like horses.10,11 Cats also possess a natural aversion to this fruit.

Orange peels also contain essential oils that can contaminate the fruit and would need a liver enzyme called glucuronyl transferase to be metabolized effectively.12 Although this is found in humans, cats don’t have it. Menthol that may be found in oranges’ oil can be toxic too because cats’ bodies aren’t able to metabolize it properly. Lastly, oranges’ psoralen content may cause indigestion and depression in cats.13

Oranges have also been known to trigger photosensitivity, vomiting or bad diarrhea in cats,14 while their citric acid content may cause irritation and other health problems in these animals’ central nervous system.15,16

The good news is cats don’t want to eat oranges anyway.

Stay on the Safe Side: Feed Your Dogs Oranges (in moderation!)

Responsible pet owners can offer oranges to dogs in moderation, as a snack, including mandarin oranges or tangerines. Avoid giving citrus or citrus juice to dogs and cats.

If you want to enrich your pet’s diet by feeding them fruits and vegetables, consult your veterinarian to find out which foods are suitable for your pet’s health status and know what other foods can be harmful for their health.