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Can Dogs Taste Spicy Foods? Should It Be Part of Their Diet?

Dogs can feel the heat of spicy foods and the burning sensation, but they cannot taste the spiciness flavor. When dogs eat large amounts of certain spices it affects their health negatively.

It can be tempting to share spicy foods with dogs but dogs cannot enjoy spicy foods like humans. 

Spicy foods are bad for dogs because they contain ingredients that are not safe for dogs to eat like excessive salt, onions, and garlic. 

These can cause severe dehydration and anemia in dogs.

Can Dogs Taste Spicy Foods?

No, dogs can’t taste the spiciness, but they can sense the heat. They will also experience the effects of spicy foods such as the burning sensation, salivating, and excessive sweating.

What happens when dogs eat spicy foods?

Dogs don’t have enough taste buds to enjoy spicy food. They have an average of 1,700 taste buds. This is low compared to humans who have more than 9,000 taste buds. 

So, giving spicy foods to dogs makes no difference in that regard. 

While dogs can sense all four of the same tastes as humans, salty, sour, bitter, and sweet, they don’t react in the same way to these flavors as humans do.

What happens when dogs eat spicy foods

Do dogs like spicy foods?

Dogs have a much keener sense of smell than humans which determines what foods they like. 

For example, dogs enjoy the smell of meat more than the taste of it. They don’t know the difference between different meats, for example, beef versus chicken.

Dogs also don’t like bitter tastes which means they are also unlikely to enjoy spicy tastes.

Is Spicy Food Good For Dogs?

Spicy food is not recommended for dogs. The main ingredient of these foods is capsaicin. This mineral is responsible for the burning and itching sensations that one gets when eating spicy food. 

Capsaicin is not inherently bad for dogs but the burning sensation that capsaicin causes in their mouth and throat can be distressing for dogs.

The Nutritional Value Of Raw Chili Peppers

Nutrient Amount (one tablespoon or 15 grams)
Calories 6
Water 88%
Protein 0.3 grams
Carbs 1.3 grams
Sugar 0.8 grams
Fiber 0.2 grams
Fat 0.1 grams

Vitamins and minerals in spicy foods

Spicy food provides some useful vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins and minerals Benefit
Vitamin B6 A family of B vitamins that help with energy metabolism.
Vitamin C Is a powerful antioxidant that helps with healing wounds and boosting the immune system.
Vitamin K1 Is essential for blood clotting, kidneys, and strong bones.
Lutein High consumption of this mineral improves eye health.
Potassium Performs a variety of functions and most importantly decreases the risk of heart disease.
Copper Aids with strong bones and healthy neurons.

Spicy Foods For Dogs

Dogs can partially benefit from the nutrients in spicy foods if they eat some in small amounts.

Here are some of the spicy foods that can benefit dogs: 

Bell Peppers

Hot peppers such as chili peppers are not good for dogs but dogs can eat bell peppers for enrichment. Bell peppers are high in vitamins A, E, and B6 as well as Vitamin C which helps to boost a dog’s system.

Different Bell Peppers

Turmeric

This can be beneficial for dogs suffering from arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Basil

With its antiviral and antimicrobial properties, basil can be given to older dogs who struggle with pain. Basil is also calming and can strengthen the immune system of dogs and humans.

Cinnamon

Small amounts of cinnamon given once in a while can help dogs with brain function, digestion, and circulation.

Spoon full of powdered cinnamon, with cinnamon sticks

Parsley

Parsley helps with organ function and its antioxidants help to flush out topics in the body. You can also give it to your dog to make their breath smell better.

Cumin Powder 

Your dog can have small amounts of cumin powder or cumin seeds added to their regular food. It can provide some health benefits if given in appropriate amounts but can cause digestive problems.

Ginger

Ginger root contains anti-inflammatory properties and antibacterial properties. It boosts the digestive system and can soothe nausea.

Rosemary

Rosemary is high in vitamin B6, iron, and calcium. It also has essential oils which are sometimes used to preserve dog food. It also works as a natural stimulant and helps to increase blood flow to the brain.

Cilantro

Dogs can eat cilantro. It can help control blood sugar levels and improves calcium absorption. Your dog may not like how it tastes.

Can Dogs Eat Cilantro and Lime

Echinacea

This herb helps to cure common colds in humans and it can do the same for dogs by improving the immune system and reducing itching.

Giving Dogs Combinations of Spicy Food

You may not be feeding your dog spicy foods directly, but you could feed them foods that have been seasoned or marinated with various spices. 

Some of those foods can be eaten by dogs but some cannot:

Salt and Pepper

Dogs cannot eat foods that have been seasoned with salt and pepper. The high salt content of this spice can lead to a sodium overdose while too much pepper can upset your dog’s stomach or choke them.

Salt and Pepper

Curry

It is best to also withhold curry from your dog. Some curries can have fewer spices and fewer antioxidants but they can contain high amounts of garlic, onions, salt, and even sugar which will not be easy for your dog to digest. Negative reactions to a curry may be vomiting, tremors and diarrhea.

Marinated meat

Marinades are made by combining lots of spices, oils, and acids, and all of them can be very unhealthy for your dog. To avoid any accidental poisoning it is best to give your dog plain, unseasoned meat.

Marinated meat

Paprika vegetables

You can feed your dog paprika vegetables but in small quantities. They can be a source of proteins and vitamins for your dog.

Can Spicy Food Kill Dogs?

Dogs cannot die from spices but some spices can be harmful to dogs when given in excessive amounts. These spices contain a compound called thiosulphate which can damage the red blood cells of your dog:

  • Garlic: according to the Merck Veterinary Manual[1], garlic is toxic for dogs as it is part of the allium family which contains thiosulfate.
  • Onions: dogs cannot eat green onions or any other type of onion.
  • Cocoa: due to its theobromine contents, cocoa cannot be metabolized by dogs[2] making it poisonous to them.
  • Salt: too much salt causes severe thirst and potential sodium poisoning for dogs.
  • Nutmeg: the toxin myristicin is found in nutmeg and large amounts of it will upset your dog’s stomach.

What Happens When Dogs Eat Spicy Food?

Dogs can experience mild or severe symptoms of discomfort and irritation when they eat spicy food because it contains minerals that are toxic to their taste buds and metabolisms.

How Do Dogs React To Spicy Food?

Dogs can react to spicy foods in a variety of ways:

  • Excessive lip licking
  • Panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive drinking of water resulting in bloating
  • Head shaking
  • Backing away

Dogs can also show gastrointestinal symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Internal inflammation
  • Pancreatitis or kidney problems
  • Anemia

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Spicy Food

If your dog eats spicy food, it won’t necessarily result in a serious condition right away. You can keep an eye on them for the next 24 hours. If they are vomiting, struggling to breathe, or looking severely dehydrated you can take them to the vet.

What To Do When Your Dog Is Struggling With Spicy Food

If your dog eats something spicy by mistake and they are visibly struggling, you can give them the following home remedies:

  1. Water: your dog will probably rush to the bowl after eating something spicy so make sure that the bowl is full of fresh and clean water.
  2. Yogurt: in the extreme case, a spoon of plain yogurt may also be given to a dog to counter that burning sensation in their taste buds
  3. Milk: a saucer of milk can also be given to a dog to diffuse the taste of spicy food.

You can also give your dog’s paws a rinse to make sure that there are no more traces of the spiciness that can re-enter the dog’s mouth.

Conclusion

Just because dogs do not respond to spicy foods like humans, does not mean you cannot give them seasoned food. You can use spices that are safe for them. Ensure that you add the seasoning while the food is cooking so that the food is seasoned properly.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.