It is easy to assume that foods that are healthy for us humans would also provide our pets with the same nutritional benefits, but sadly, it’s not always true. While some vegetables like carrots or broccoli can be used as natural and healthy alternatives to processed dog treats, not all veggies are safe for pups to snack on.
Take another salad staple, peppers. Can dogs eat peppers?
Given their crunchy texture and refreshing taste, it’s easy to imagine that our furry friends will enjoy eating peppers and luckily, they can. However, not all peppers are safe for canine consumption. Plus, overeating peppers can cause your dog stomach upset.
Read on to find out more about what kinds of peppers are safe for your pup to eat, and what you should avoid feeding your furry friend.
Dogs can eat bell peppers. They can eat any colour of bell pepper, be it green, yellow, orange or red. They can also eat them both raw and cooked. Just remember to remove the stem and seeds before you feed any pepper to your pup.
While your dog might love the crunch of raw pepper, it can be a bit more difficult to digest than if it is pureed or cooked. If you plan to give your dog some cooked peppers do not feed them fried or seasoned peppers as these are unhealthy and can cause GI issues. You especially should not give dogs any peppers cooked with onion or garlic as these are toxic to dogs.
Dogs can eat sweet bell peppers, which is what we usually think of when we talk about peppers. However, these are far from the only kind of pepper out there. Most other kinds of pepper, especially spicy varieties, are not suitable for dogs to eat.
Yes, dogs can eat red peppers. In fact, red peppers are the most nutritionally valuable out of all the colours of bell pepper.
The different colours of pepper actually denote how long they have ripened on the vine, they are not different kinds of pepper. This means your dog can safely eat green peppers, yellow peppers, orange and red ones too.
Red peppers pack the most nutritional benefits into their bell out of all the colours available. A typical red pepper has around 11 times more beta-carotene than green peppers.
Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A inside the body, and vitamin A is important for the health of your pooch’s puppy eyes, as well as acting as a powerful anti-oxidant. Peppers are also high in vitamin A and C which are not only antioxidants but are vital in maintaining the healing properties of your dog’s body, like scarring and the creation of new skin tissue.
No, dogs should not eat chilli. The active ingredient in chillis is called capsaicin and it is what gives us that hot, burning sensation when we eat them. That’s because capsaicin is an irritant in mammals which is meant to prevent them from eating the plant. For most species, including dogs, this defence mechanism works.
Dogs not only find capsaicin highly irritating, but it causes gastrointestinal upset too. Meanwhile, we humans seem to relish the irritation and even enjoy it. We’re a strange bunch.
For the same reason, you should never feed your dog other kinds of hot pepper, such as jalapeños, cayenne, or piri piri peppers. Although they are not toxic, these kinds of pepper are all very irritating for your dog if they eat any. Eating a hot pepper can make your pooch cough and retch as well as give them a sore stomach and diarrhoea. Your dog might try to settle the burning sensation by drinking lots of water, but drinking excessive amounts can cause bloating which is potentially life-threatening in dogs.
If your dog somehow eats a spicy pepper, you should monitor them for symptoms of illness and contact your vet for advice if they are sick.
Many of the seasonings and spices we use are not suitable for dogs to eat, back pepper included. Black pepper isn’t toxic so it is “safe” if your dog should happen to eat some. However, eating a significant quantity of black pepper or the whole peppercorns will likely cause gastrointestinal upset for your dog.
So if your pup hoovers up a dropped scrap from your Sunday roast and it has pepper on it, they aren’t in any danger. But doggy stomachs are pretty sensitive to seasonings so you should not actively feed your dog black pepper. Any human food you share with your dog as a treat should be served plain.
On the contrary, bell peppers are actually a very healthy treat your pup can enjoy. Peppers are hydrating and low in fat, so make a good snack option for dogs on a controlled diet. A slice of pepper will also give your furry friend a boost of vitamins and minerals.
As mentioned above, peppers are a super source of beta-carotene and vitamins A and C. Beta-carotene and vitamin A are vital in maintaining eye health, while vitamin C helps to maintain a healthy immune system. These vitamins are also antioxidants which your dog needs in their diet to help to prevent cell damage and even fight cancer.
Bell peppers also contain vitamin B6 which helps to keep the nervous system healthy. Meanwhile, vitamin E contributes to healthy skin and fur.
Dogs do not need a lot of vegetables in their diet, but they still benefit from the nutritional boost and low-fat snack options veggies provide. If you have a large dog, vets advise that they eat less than half a bell pepper per day. For smaller dogs, they should eat less than a quarter.
However, if your dog has never eaten pepper before, you should feed them a smaller amount to make sure they like it and that it doesn’t make them sick. If they like it, you can feed them more.
Half a bell pepper weighs around 60g, which will contain roughly 18 calories and about 3.6g of carbohydrates, and 0.6g of protein. There’s a negligible amount of fat and no sodium. If your pup needs to lose a few pounds, you should consider swapping processed dog treats/food for wholesome snacks like chicken, pepper or celery or fresh, natural food like Pure to help them lose weight and stay healthy.
Peppers are a great natural treat you can offer your dog, and most dogs enjoy the taste and refreshing crunch of a slither of bell pepper. But you can have too much of a good thing. Like many other vegetables, if your dog eats too much pepper it can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but overeating pepper shouldn’t cause any lasting harm. However, it is still important to exercise moderation when feeding your dog peppers.
This old wives’ tale doesn’t have a clear origin, yet many owners believe that regularly feeding their dog peppers will help to ward off any parasites, particularly worms. Except, just as there is no clear origin to the belief, there’s no evidence to support it either.
If you’re concerned that your dog might have worms or any other parasite, you should contact your vet for advice. They will advise you on the most effective preventatives to keep parasites away as well as discussing any necessary treatment should your pooch need it.
Yes, dogs can eat bell peppers. Peppers make a low-fat and hydrating snack for dogs. However, you should never feed your dog any kind of spicy pepper. So the next time you slice up some peppers to enjoy with a salad, feel free to offer a slice or two to your furry friend!
Peppers can be a really healthy, and tasty snack to feed alongside your dog's normal dinner, as long as that's super healthy too and contains all the wholesome goodness our dogs need and deserve. Pure is honest, natural nutrition, packed with vitamins and minerals to keep dogs happy and healthy.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.