Your dog’s big, imploring eyes are hard to resist, especially when they’re begging to share your food. Though dogs have evolved senses to protect against hazardous foods, their judgment sometimes fails them. Should you share your burrito or spicy nachos with your canine buddy?
Dogs should not eat spicy food and usually won’t. Most pups don’t want hot treats; they can’t actually taste the spice, but they do experience the heat.
This article explains why dogs can’t taste spicy foods and how the impact of capsaicin and other spicy foods on dogs and their health makes hot treats unfavorable options. We also explore how to treat pups who have consumed capsaicin and chilis.
Can Dogs Taste Spicy Foods?
Dogs can’t actually taste spicy foods though they generally avoid them. Their sense of smell evolved to keep them away from harmful foods, and hot snacks are among the worst types of foods for canines.
When dogs eat spicy foods, the meals register as sour or bitter on a canine tongue. This unpleasant flavor is an evolutionary protection; dogs don’t want to eat things that taste bad.
Pups have 1700 taste buds versus our 9,000. These sensors are divided into the same four quadrants we use – salty, sweet, bitter, and sour, but they have far less sensitivity to flavor.
Still, dogs don’t register any of the spicy deliciousness we savor as humans; they only taste a trace of bitterness and feel the impact of the capsaicin burning their throat and hurting their tummies.
The Effects of Spicy Food on Dogs
Spicy foods are not great for dogs. They can be hazardous to a pup’s health and might cause:
- Stomach pain
- Excessive thirst
Dogs feel the effects of spicy foods more acutely than humans, and the impact is more intense. The results of spice ingestion in canines range from discomfort to fatal, depending on the precise substance and amount your pup has eaten.
The symptoms hot foods cause in canines usually abate in a few days but need to be carefully monitored. These maladies, left unchecked, can be profound and prove harmful to your pet.
Effects of Peppers on Dogs
Peppers get their heat from a chemical called capsaicin, the substance encasing the chili seeds. While dogs can’t taste the flavor of the chilis, the capsaicin triggers a response in a pup’s mouth, throat, and central nervous system.
Dogs feel capsaicin’s heat, and it hurts them far worse than it hurts us, without providing any of the pleasure we experience when we taste it. The compound causes dogs to:
- Foam at the mouth
- Paw at their face
- Have watery eyes
- Dry Heave
These symptoms often lead to dehydration in dogs, so make sure your pup has plenty of water available.
The Effects of Onion & Garlic on Dogs
Spicy foods often contain onions and garlic, two potentially lethal ingredients to dogs. Onions damage a canine’s red blood cells via a toxin called N-propyl disulfide. Even very small amounts of onion harm your pup. Left untreated, onion consumption can cause fatal anemia in dogs.
Garlic is a cousin to onions, a fellow member of the Allium family, and the spice impacts pets similarly. The disulfides and thiosulfates cause the following in pets:
- Hemolytic anemia
- Heinz body anemia
Compromised red blood cells cause all three conditions. Even very tiny amounts of garlic are toxic to pets, and any consumption should be avoided at all costs.
What To Do if Your Dog Eats Spicy Food
Pet owners should, above all, be diligent about what their dog eats and monitor their consumption. Pups are persistent, however, and may devour a Caliente snack when you’re not looking. Mitigating the discomfort and illness caused by your pet eating hot foods requires quick action. Plan to take your pup to the vet as soon as possible, but first:
Find Out What Your Dog Ate
Your vet needs to know what substance they’re treating your dog for. Different foods cause different reactions and require individualized treatments. The hotter the pepper, the more intensely it impacts your dog. Additionally, your dog’s spicy food may contain other hazardous ingredients your vet will need to treat.
Make Sure Your Dog Has Plenty of Water
Your pup will scramble for water after ingesting the peppers. Make sure their water bowl is filled and ready for them. As noted earlier, capsaicin causes intense gastrointestinal distress in dogs, resulting in diarrhea and vomiting, which lead to dehydration. Therefore, ensure to have water available to counteract dehydration.
Offer Your Pet Some Yogurt or Milk
Dairy isn’t that great for dogs. As such, you want to limit the amount of milk or yogurt you give your dog to a small dish. The oil base helps soothe the burn caused by the capsaicin. Therefore, offering your dog a small saucer of milk or a spoonful of yogurt cools the burning sensation in their throats and mouths.
Wash Your Dog’s Paws
Use some cool water and a clean cloth to wipe any oils from your puppy’s paws. Spicy foods make a pet’s eyes water, and they will attempt to wipe their face and eyes, transferring any oils from their paws to their skin or eyes. Unfortunately, spicy food can cause severe irritation and pain.
Wipe Your Dog’s Face
If your dog’s eyes are already watering, you need to take a different course of action such as wiping their face with a cool, wet towel. Washing your pup’s face removes any oil they may have inadvertently transferred to their face before you had a chance to wash their paws.
Monitor Your Dog Closely
The next several hours will most likely be eventful with lots of diarrhea and vomiting. Therefore, you will want to take your dog out often, and watch out for signs of dehydration. Make sure your dog has plenty of water available and watch closely for indicators of dehydration such as lethargy. Your pup will need small amounts of food offered frequently, as they will be voiding all the nutrients from their system.
Feed Your Dog a Bland Diet
Immediately following your dog’s encounter with capsaicin, feed them mild, bland foods. Your vet may recommend commercially available pet food, or you can offer your pup plain cooked chicken meat or some whitefish mixed with prepared white rice.
Re-introduce your dog to their regular food gradually and watch closely to ensure the integration is effective.
Keep Your Dog Away From Peppers
Dogs are like humans; each pup has a different heat tolerance. While most canines naturally avoid peppers and hot foods, some are drawn to them. However, even if your dog wants to eat peppers, they shouldn’t. Remove the temptation by:
- Keeping peppers in your refrigerator or somewhere well out of your pup’s reach.
- Cleaning up scraps immediately
- Avoiding leaving your dog alone around spicy foods.
- Keeping any peppers you’ve grown behind a fence your dog can’t breach.
Most canines have no interest in eating hot foods. However, while dogs can’t actually taste capsaicin, they feel its effects like burning and gastrointestinal discomfort.
It’s best not to let your dog eat peppers and spicy foods, even if they have a taste for them. Eating such foods can lead to pups’ dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Be prepared to treat your dog if they eat peppers or any other spicy food by providing them with plenty of water and some yogurt, washing their face and paws, and contacting your vet..
- Nationwide: Garlic Toxicity & Pets
- Mi Dog Guide: How do dogs react to spicy food?
- Wag Walking: Can Dogs Feel Heat from Peppers?
- Hepper: Dog Ate Chilli or Spicy Food? Here’s What to Do (Vet Answer)
- Hills: Can My Dog Eat Spicy Food?
- PawTracks: Can Dogs Eat Spicy Food? What You Need To Know
- National Pesticide Information Center: Capsaicin
- American Kennel Club: Can Dogs Taste?