There are an awful lot of types of peppers out there. Peppers are a part of the Capsicum family, including sweet and hot peppers, also known as chili peppers. They are very versatile fruits (yes, pepper is actually a fruit not veggie), and come in different shapes, colors, and sizes.
Peppers are loaded with vitamin C and some other essential minerals. Not only that, but they are low in calories and fat! Naturally, peppers have many health benefits for humans, but are there any for your four-legged friend?
After all, can dogs eat peppers?
Some food that is healthy for us can be toxic to our pets, so you should rethink twice before you slice some fresh peppers into Milo’s food bowl. In this article, you will discover things like: can dogs eat peppers, what are the possible risks, and health benefits, so read along!
Can Dogs Eat Peppers?
The short answer to this question is – yes, dogs can eat peppers. They can eat peppers in moderation as a healthy treat, or mixed with other high-quality dog food.
Dogs are carnivores, and 95% of their diet should consist of dog food and meat, and only 5% can be human food (veggies, fruits, nuts, dairy). That’s why peppers are not considered necessary for your dog’s diet, but they won’t do any harm. What’s more, peppers can provide valuable nutrients such as essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
But to explain further, let’s look at the nutritional value of bell peppers (100g) for example:
Peppers have more vitamin C than orange juice! They make more than 170% of Reference Daily Intake for vitamin C, making them one of the richest sources of this essential nutrient. They also contain proper amounts of vitamin K1, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamins B6 and B9, folate, and potassium. Also, they’re rich with antioxidants, which help protect the body from damage by free radicals.
But before we go any further, there are some things we need to make clear. It is estimated that there are over 50,000 different types of peppers around the world, and they range from very spicy to mild-hot and sweet.
The real question here is – which types of peppers can your dog eat? To answer this question, we have to see which type is which.
1. Types Of Peppers
Peppers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and we created five main categories for easier understanding:
Sweet To Mild Peppers
- Sweet papers differ in shape, color, and size. They are often green or red, but can also be yellow, white, purple and black. These peppers have a mild, sweet flavor and are firm with a juicy, crisp flesh. Scoville rating (a scale for measuring pungency of chili peppers) here is from 0-500.
- These are Sweet Bell Peppers, Pepperoncini, Banana peppers, and Pimento peppers.
Mild To Medium Peppers
- These are longer and usually dagger-shaped. They come in different colors, such as green, yellow, and red. Scoville rating here is from 500 to 2,000. Mild to medium peppers are Anaheim peppers, Poblano peppers, Ancho peppers, Paprika, and Shishito peppers.
- Medium peppers range from 2,500-23,000 Scoville Heat Units. They can be green, orange, yellow, red, or black. Usually much smaller in size, dagger-shaped, and the pods are thin and curvy. These are Jalapeno peppers, Chipotle, Hot wax peppers, Serrano peppers, Cowhorn chili peppers, and Fresno pepper.
- These peppers are about 2 inches long and are usually thin. They come in vibrant colors such as bright red, orange, yellow, and sometimes green. Hot peppers range from 80,000-350,000 Scoville Heat Units. These are Bahamian Peppers, Carolina Cayenne peppers, Jamaican peppers, Bird’s eye peppers.
Super Hot Peppers
- These are usually much smaller than the rest of the types and can grow up to 1-2 inches long. Super hot chilies come in different shapes and can be thin and small or shaped like cherry tomatoes, only with wrinkles. They are usually red, bright green, or yellow. These are Scotch bonnet peppers, Habanero peppers, Volcanic Peppers, Pepper X, Ghost, and Carolina Reaper. Scoville Heat Units range from 800,000-220,000,000!
2. Can My Dog Eat Sweet Bell Peppers?
- Yes, dogs can eat sweet peppers. Their slightly sweet taste will make a perfect healthy snack for your pet.
- Any type from this category in any shape and color will suit your dog. However, red bell peppers are the healthiest ones for your dog as they contain the highest amounts of vitamins and antioxidants.
3. What About Chilli Peppers?
Absolutely not, don’t give your dog hot peppers
- Hot and spicy peppers in small doses may not be a lethal combination to your dog, but can definitely have some consequences. Dog’s digestive system is not equipped for eating spicy foods, and it can upset their stomach. Moreover, they can choke from the spice, experience mouth burn and irritations, vomit, or have diarrhea.
- If your dog eats small amounts of any hot pepper, don’t panic straight away. Monitor your dog, and make sure there’s a healthy supply of water nearby. If your canine seems to be vomiting or has an extended diarrhea case, it could lead to dehydration, which could be extremely serious. In such an event, it is best to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
The culprit behind that burning sensation
- Have you ever wondered why hot peppers are hot? That is because hot peppers contain compound capsaicin. Capsaicin is a flavorless and odorless substance found inside the flesh of peppers. The spicy sensation happens when the substance binds to pain and heat receptors. Your brain is then tricked into thinking your mouth is on fire, causing your body to fight the heat by sweating.
What Are The Health Benefits?
Now that we’ve settled which type of peppers your dog should eat, it is time to determine health benefits. We will focus here on sweet bell peppers, as those are the most nutritious for your canine.
Sweet bell peppers are rich with vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, and antioxidants like lutein, capsanthin, violaxanthin, beta-carotene. Also, they contain some phytonutrients like quercetin and luteolin and minerals like potassium and folate. Peppers are a perfect healthy treat for overweight dogs due to low amounts of fat, calories, and carbohydrates.
Some of the benefits are:
- Better eyesight (vitamin A and beta-carotene)
- Healthy skin and coat (vitamin E)
- Strong immune function (vitamin C)
- Hormone regulation and nervous system function (B6)
- Reduced inflammation and cognitive aging (vitamin C)
- Proper cell function and fat metabolism (vitamin E)
- Improved liver and blood health (vitamin K)
- Beta-carotene improves vision and pigmentation
- Potassium promotes healthy brain function
- Healthy hydration level
- Tissue repair (vitamin A)
- Wound healing (vitamin C)
- Better digestion and healthy gut due to dietary fiber
- Weight regulation
- Prevention of heart disease and cancer (antioxidant quercetin), etc
High-quality dog food already contains these minerals and vitamins. However, if you are home-cooking for your dog, you can consider adding small amounts of peppers, as they can be nutritionally beneficial. If you’re still not sure, you should seek professional advice from your veterinarian.
How To Prepare Peppers For Your Dog?
- The best way to serve your dog peppers is to steam or cook them. That’s because raw peppers may be harder to digest and chew. Steaming will soften the outer skin and preserve nutritional value. You can also mix peppers with your dog’s food or make a puree out of it with a food processor.
- Consider washing the peppers first. Then just cut them into smaller pieces and remove the seeds. Also, don’t add any seasonings like salt, onion, or garlic powder, as those are very toxic to dogs if ingested. Frozen and pre-cut peppers are full of add-ons, so those are not an option for your canine either.
- Don’t forget you should never give your dog spicy pepper varieties and start with smaller amounts in case of an allergic reaction.
How Many Peppers Can Your Dog Eat?
First of all, peppers should be introduced slowly to see how your dog will react. If everything’s okay, you can increase the amount, but don’t get carried away. Peppers should be given in moderation, like any other vegetables. Dog’s intestinal tract is designed to process meat and not large amounts of fruits and veggies.
Amounts of peppers fed should not exceed 10% of your dog’s overall diet.
Nonetheless, here’s a chart for the more precise intake of peppers:
|Large and medium-sized dogs||Less than one-half pepper at a time|
|Small-sized dogs||Less than one-quarter pepper at a time|
We advise serving your dog peppers once in a while, mixed with other quality dog food or as a special healthy treat. Any higher amounts and your dog might wind up with an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting.