Certain human foods are way too spicy, but people still enjoy them with relish. Unfortunately, after eating spicy food, a person can sometimes suffer heartburn or digestive issues. At that point, dog owners often wonder if spicy foods are safe for dogs or not. Whether they are okay with them or they suffer heartburn too. So, let’s start with the basic ingredient of spicy foods, chili pepper.
Is Chili Safe for Dogs?
A short answer to this question is NO. Human food having any form of chili, like chili peppers, chili powder, and any variety like red chili or green chili are all unsafe for dogs. The same goes for dog food; it should never contain spices. It is because chili contains a substance called capsaicin. It is a chemical found in almost all types of chilies. It causes a burning sensation in the throat and can even cause heartburn.
Can Dogs Have Chili Powder and Hot Sauce?
Chili powder is made of ground-dried chilies. Similarly, hot sauce is a condiment made from hot peppers. Both the items are majorly composed of chilies along with other seasonings. As explained earlier, chili is harmful to dogs, and the added spices pose more harm. Both of them have a sharp taste, so most dogs don’t like them. There is a high possibility your dog won’t eat them even in your absence, but surely, he will wonder what they taste like if he is seeing them for the first time. So, it’s better to keep spices, chilies, chili sauce, and similar products away from the dog’s reach.
Health Problems of Capsaicin
Chili peppers belong to the genus “Capsicum” of the plants, from which the name capsaicin is derived for the chemical compound which is found exclusively in chili peppers. This compound is an allergen for all mammals, including humans and dogs. It actually produces a burning sensation wherever it comes into touch with the body, whether it’s the skin or the tongue. But, apart from producing this feeling of burning, it can cause some internal problems in dogs if consumed in substantial amounts. Some of these are:
Capsaicin in spicy foods can irritate the epithelial lining of the stomach and intestines in the dog. It can give the dog an upset stomach and may result in vomiting and dehydration. Although larger dogs may be capable of dealing with it, smaller dogs and dogs with sensitive stomachs are more likely to develop digestive issues in no time. Capsaicin also stimulates the pain receptors in their digestive tract. The body shows an immune response to defend itself from the pain, and the dog’s digestive system works overtime to eliminate the capsaicin from the body as rapidly as possible. This eventually leads to diarrhea.
Exposure to Eyes
Besides its negative effect on the dog’s stomach and triggering irritation to the skin in contact, capsaicin can cause dreadful irritation of the eyes. It can also cause dogs to become temporarily blind. Capsaicin is the major ingredient of pepper spray, which damages the membrane of the eyes and causes blindness.
Of course, ingesting chilies will not cause this; instead, when a dog comes in contact with hot chili powder or ground chili peppers in the spice box on your kitchen shelf, it might happen. If you have a pet in your house, make sure that the spice box is off-limits to him. Close the lid tightly on the caddy containing the chili powder.
Long-term inhalation of capsaicin particles, such as those found in chili pepper powder, can be hazardous to dogs, irritating the respiratory system, causing suffocation, sometimes also leading to damage of the nervous system. In addition, if your dog is already suffering from certain conditions like immunodeficiency, asthma, or other pulmonary diseases, the inhalation of capsaicin will lead to sudden respiratory problems like coughing, heavy panting, sneezing, excessive mucus production, and difficulty in breathing. This condition can worsen to be lethal in some dogs. In addition to inhalation through the nose, sometimes eating hot peppers can also induce coughing and heavy panting in dogs.
You must have noticed your furry friend being thirsty after eating spicy foods, meat, or some other people’s foods. Of course, it happens with us as well. One reason for this excessive thirst is that the breakdown of these foods demands more water during digestion; thus, the body shows dehydration and thirst. Of course, the dog will drink plenty of water to satiate his thirst. However, it will result in a full stomach and sometimes nausea and vomiting as well.
Moreover, capsaicin in spicy food and some other types of people’s food directly leads to dehydration. Capsaicin is itself dehydrating. This molecule is detected by certain nervous receptors, which also work for detecting heat in the atmosphere. Thus the dog experiences the sensation as “heat” and shows similar gestures as shown by him when the temperature rises, i.e., dehydration, sweating, and thirst.
Although chili allergy is rare in dogs because chili peppers are seldom part of their regular diet or of commercial dog foods but, some dogs can show an allergy to chili in their food. In such cases, dogs perceive certain proteins found in chili peppers or capsaicin as allergens. As a result, their immune system shows a response to them in the form of anaphylaxis. The common symptoms of this anaphylactic reaction include itchy skin, wheezing, bloating, ear infections or paw biting, etc. If not treated timely, it can be fatal.
Can Dogs Eat Spicy Food?
We should never let dogs eat spicy food considering the harm it causes. Eating chili peppers raw or added in food is extremely hazardous for dogs’ health. In most cases, the pets cannot withstand the sharp spice taste. Even if they eat some of it, the harm they will suffer will probably keep them away from it. Besides chilies, the spicy food humans eat has some herbs and vegetables that are not safe for them. Onions and garlic are at the top of the list.
Onions have a toxin that doesn’t harm humans but harms dogs. These toxins get attached to the red blood cells resulting in less capacity of cells to carry oxygen. As a result, it can eventually reduce the number of red blood cells in the body.
Garlic belongs to the same group of onion, allium, and has thiosulphate in it. Therefore, it affects the red blood cells, in the same way, accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Other Herbs Found in Spices
Powdered chilies are not solely composed of chili pepper. They have some other herbs too that are toxic for dogs. Some of these include:
- Oregano: This herb decreases the heart rate and disturbs the digestive system, causing ulcers.
- Paprika: Paprika contains solanine. This compound is famous for causing nervous system and breathing problems.
- Cumin: This spice is generally safe but can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. Moreover, the herb is never recommended if the dog has thin blood.
What to Do if a Dog Has Eaten Chili?
Dogs have fewer taste buds, so they probably don’t know exactly what they are eating. As a result, your dog might end up eating spicy food or chili peppers without giving them a second thought. He will only experience the bitter taste after he has eaten them and suffer a burning sensation. To save your dogs from the potential harm, you need to take the following steps:
Visit a Vet
The first step you need to take is a visit to the vet’s clinic after your dog has eaten spicy food. If he has eaten in large quantities, the vet might try to induce vomiting using hydrogen peroxide. In case the dog has consumed only small amounts, he might medicate him to protect him from long-term harm from the toxic effect of capsaicin. Pet parents are advised not to take any of these steps on their own. Neither they should medicate them nor should induce vomiting. Home remedies can be toxic to dogs, especially when you don’t know the core reason.
Feed Something Sweet
Though too many sweets are bad for dogs, in this case, when their mouth is burning, and they are continuously showing signs of discomfort, you can feed them something sweet in small amounts. However, make sure it is not a bar of chocolate as theobromine cannot be metabolized in their body resulting in chocolate poisoning. Similarly, the sweet must not have xylitol in it as xylitol toxicity can be fatal enough to cause death in them.
Give a Bland Diet
Giving something bland to eat can help reduce the burning of the mouth and mask the effect of capsaicin. Bland diets include soft foods that are high in fibers. It aids digestion and compensates for the harm caused by toxic capsaicin. It can include bread, eggs, peanut butter, plain pasta (without spices), plain white rice, etc.
Actions to Avoid
A common sign after eating too many chilies is the induction of thirst in dogs. Many pet owners give them water to fulfill their thirst and prevent dehydration. It is not a right act. Giving water makes the condition worse as it gives the capsaicin a medium to spread all around the mouth. It produces even more burning in the mouth and throat.
Keep chilies out of their reach. It might be possible that they ask for more even when their mouth is burning like hell. It is not because their taste buds are craving it. In fact, it is due to the nervous response produced in their bodies due to the release of endorphins (a happy hormone). Endorphins are produced in response to the capsaicin, making them urge for more.
Chilies are not safe for dogs. All the varieties have a chemical called capsaicin in them. It can cause gastrointestinal problems, irritation of skin and eyes, nerve damage, respiratory distress, and thirst. Some dogs might be allergic to this compound as well. The same goes for spicy food. Spicy foods don’t provide any nutritional value; instead, they cause health problems when a dog consumes some.
If your dog has eaten chilies by mistake, they are going to demand more. They are not demanding more chilies but are demanding more health hazards. Keep the pets safe and healthy by keeping the chilies and other spicy food away from them.