Some people love spicy food, others hate it, but is it okay for our four-legged friends? We’ve taken a look and put together this article to answer that question for you. Read on to find out everything you need to know when it comes to dogs and spicy foods.
Can My Dog Eat Spicy Food?
The types of spicy food vary wildly, though there is one constant. No matter whether it’s a delicious curry, a plate of flaming wings, or a burger smothered in hot sauce, the physical effects once we pass our tolerance threshold is the same across the board. You’ll start sweating, and your mouth will burn.
This is due to a chemical found in chillis called capsaicin, which stimulates the nervous system and activates the brain’s heat response.
Capsaicin doesn’t just affect humans; the same sensations are triggered in dogs and other mammals. So can they eat spicy food too? The short answer is yes, they can, but should they? Probably not, at least with most types. We will go in-depth as to why and cover the adverse effects that can arise as well as any potential benefits that spicy food may have for your pet.
Are There Benefits to Spicy Food?
For us, humans, there is a multitude of benefits to eating spicy food. It can help with digestion, dieting, and depression, among other things. Can it have similar effects on our dogs?
The chili peppers that give spicy food its kick are rich in vitamins and also contain copper and potassium. These are important parts of the diets of humans and dogs alike and help keep us all healthy and active, but even we only tend to eat chilis in smaller amounts. There are other ways to ensure your dog is getting the nutrition it needs, ones that won’t have the same adverse side effects.
Ginger is not known to be harmful to dogs. In fact, there are several purported benefits. We’ve used ginger as a remedy for upset stomachs for a long time, and you can do the same for your dog. It’s a great carminative and can help with both nausea and digestion.
Ginger isn’t just good for tummies. It also contains antioxidants, as well as being an anti-inflammatory, which can supposedly help older dogs with conditions like arthritis. If you do want to give your pet ginger, be sure to research the appropriate amount for their size and do not overfeed them.
Not only are fennel seeds (and the fennel plant itself) safe for dogs, they can also help them. If your dog has been particularly gassy lately, fennel seeds could be another good way to calm their digestive system and stop the stink. They are also antioxidants and contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. Again, always do your research and moderate appropriately so your dog doesn’t eat too much.
Is Spicy Food Bad for Dogs?
There may be a couple of spices that are safe and beneficial to dogs, but spicy food as a whole can lead to problems for them.
The most common issues you’ll encounter if your dog has too much spicy food are gastrointestinal. Dogs can have fragile tummies, and spicy food can lead to gas, diarrhea, and even vomiting. This is no more fun for them than it is for us, so avoid your dog having a bad time by making sure they can’t get at your leftover curry or arrabbiata.
Dogs experience the same burning sensation we do from eating spicy foods. Plenty of us don’t like it, and dogs are the same. A lot of owners report their dog being seriously confused and agitated by it and barking or growling at the source. The aforementioned stomach issues will also be highly uncomfortable or even painful for your poor pooch.
Spicy food can lead to excessive thirst in dogs, and the tummy troubles we mentioned can also lead to major fluid loss and dehydration. If they do manage to eat it, then make sure there is a lot of water available for them, though be aware that drinking too much water (as they’re more likely to do in this situation) can itself induce vomiting.
Types of Spicy Foods and Their Effects on Dogs
We’ve covered the typical negative effects of spicy food, but some spices are especially bad for your dog and should be avoided entirely. Here we’ll break down a few of them for you, though keep in mind that there are many types of spices, and this list is not exhaustive. If you ever have questions about a specific ingredient, always read up about it and make sure it’s safe beforehand.
Nutmeg contains a compound called myristicin that is toxic to dogs. If they manage to consume it in large amounts, they can face issues ranging from abdominal pain to seizures. While a small quantity is unlikely to cause much trouble, to be on the safe side, we would avoid giving nutmeg to your dog altogether.
While paprika is not known to be toxic to dogs, it can be an irritant as well as causing the previously discussed issues associated with capsaicin. It may be good for us due to it being rich in antioxidants and high in vitamins A and E, but those positives do not outweigh the downsides and suddenly make it appropriate for our pets. Due to its powdery form and a dog’s inclination to sniff anything new, paprika could irritate their nose, eyes and even cause breathing issues. The same can be said for other fine spices.
There’s a little debate over whether or not garlic counts, but it is regularly used as a spice. It is also poisonous to your dog, so make sure it’s kept from reach. Consuming it can lead to garlic toxicity, and this can cause major stomach problems and anemia.
Garlic has a range of benefits for us, being highly nutritious and acting as an antioxidant. There are even some that claim it can be good for dogs, too, in small doses. There does not seem to be solid proof of this, however, so given the known negatives; we cannot recommend it.
Although not technically considered a spice, onions can act as one. They are a very common ingredient and are extremely toxic to dogs, so we thought they were worth mentioning here. Eating onions will damage a dog’s red blood cells because of something called N-propyl disulfide. All parts of the onion are bad for them, and the same goes for similar foods like shallots.
FAQs About Spicy Food and Dogs
Do dogs taste spicy food the same as we do?
Not really. Capsaicin may have the same effects on dogs, but they have nowhere near as many taste buds as us. That upset tummy is not going to be worth it. Smells are another story, with a dog’s sniffer being far more effective than our own. They have 10,000 to 100,000 times the receptors that we do. We know how fragrant and aromatic spices can be; now imagine how overwhelming that must be for our pets.
Do dogs like spicy food?
While dogs may not taste in the same way as us, they have different preferences, just as we do. A lot of spicy foods may not be good for them, but there are plenty of testimonials online from people who say their canine companions enjoy it.
Could spicy food kill my dog?
No, most food should not kill your dog just because it is spicy. That alone does not make it poisonous. Some spicy foods contain chemicals toxic to dogs, however, so you should always know exactly what is in something before you decide to give it to them.
Can my dog eat chillis?
They’re not toxic to dogs, but this is where the capsaicin chemical comes from, so they’re likely to cause those problems we talked about earlier. Stronger chillis should be nowhere near dogs. Some have been known to put people in the hospital, so giving them to a pet would be dangerous and cruel.
My dog got sick from spicy food; what should I do?
Your dog isn’t likely to get sick unless it has eaten a lot of spicy food, but if they are experiencing the adverse effects, be sure to contact your vet. They will probably instruct you to monitor them, but they’ll also know if any further action is needed and might recommend ways to alleviate your dog’s discomfort.
So should we give our dogs spicy food? We’ve done the research, and we think there’s a clear answer. The majority has no benefit to them, nutritional or otherwise, and it’s far more likely to cause your pet trouble than it is to make for a good meal. In some cases, it could be very dangerous. We recommend avoiding it and sticking to regular dog food. There’s a reason you don’t see spicy versions of their
favorite brands on the supermarket shelves, after all.