Can Dogs Eat Capsicum (Bell Peppers)?Medically Reviewed
Capsicum, or bell peppers, are not only very colorful, but healthy as well. However, is that also the case when it comes to dogs? This article will give you the answer.
Capsicum, or peppers, come in different colors and different shapes and sizes.
Some prefer green, others yellow, while others can’t imagine a better vegetable than the red pepper.
No matter the color and shape, we can all agree on one thing – peppers are really beneficial to us! But the question is – does this apply to dogs as well?
Newsflash – dogs love to eat! What else is new? Sometimes to the point where they’ll try anything they come across, only to discover the hard way that a certain food is bad for them or even toxic. So, it’s your responsibility as a dog owner to know what’s safe and what’s not, in the dog world of food.
Considering peppers are very common in many recipes and a popular vegetable, it’s natural that you’re wondering if it’s OK to share some with your dog. So, today we’re answering the following question:
Can I Give Peppers To My Dog?
Yes, peppers are generally safe for dogs to eat. They can even be quite nutritionally beneficial, just like they are for us. Plus, they’re very low in calories which makes them a great, healthy treat.
However, there are still some things you should have in mind when serving capsicum to your dog. Namely, some kinds are better and safer than others. Some should be avoided all together! So, read on and find out what the best options are.
Sweet peppers are safe for dogs to eat. Not only, but they can also be quite beneficial for them.
What Kind Of Pepper Should I Serve?
Capsicum is a wide term indicating different kinds of peppers – sweet peppers and chili peppers being two of the biggest groups. The general rule could be the following: sweet, or bell, peppers are usually safe for dogs while spicy peppers should be avoided. Spicy food and dogs is never a good combination and this is no exception. Any pepper with a spicy taste of some kind is off-limits for dogs!
When it comes to bell peppers, they come in many colors – green, red, orange, yellow…Even though they’re all perfectly safe to give to your dog, one of them stands out as the healthiest one. Namely, the red bell pepper contains the highest levels of important nutrients – carotenoid phytonutrients, (1) beta-carotene, anti-oxidants and vitamins.
However, this doesn’t mean that bell peppers in other colors are unhealthy. The red ones are simply the richest in benefits, but the others are really healthy as well! Let’s take a look at why!
Sweet or bell peppers are safe for dogs, while spicy peppers should be avoided. However, the red bell pepper contains the highest levels of important anti-oxidants and vitamins which makes it the perfect choice for a low-calorie, healthy dog treat.
Why Are Peppers Healthy?
We know that peppers are healthy, but what is it that makes them so beneficial? This list will give you a better insight.
- Folate/ Folic acid
- Vitamins A, E and K
- Some B vitamins
- Vitamin C
Antioxidants help to protect and repair tissues in the body, as well as help in fighting cancer. They also are thought to help ease joint pain in senior dogs if they suffer from diseases such as arthritis. Beta-carotene, that can also be found in carrots, helps to improve vision and slow down age related eye degeneration. (2, 3)
Bell peppers contain really high levels of vitamin C, which is important for the repair of tissues and contributes to a better working immune system. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and also for binding calcium in the bones.(4) Vitamins A and E have anti-oxidant properties and also important for skin and hair health. Finally, peppers are really low in calories, which is always a plus, right?
Being so rich in vitamins and minerals, peppers can benefit your dog’s health in multiple ways. They will help ease joint pain in elder dogs, promote our body’s protection mechanism and help in repairing tissues.
How Do I Serve Capsicum To My Dog?
You can be very creative if you want to incorporate this healthy vegetable in your dog’s diet. You can give the pepper pieces as they are or mix them with something else. However, there are a couple of guidelines you should follow when serving peppers to your dog.
First of all, never give peppers that have been prepared with onion or garlic. For instance, some of your favorite stew may include peppers, but often includes other vegetables, garlic and onion. Don’t give this to your dog, even if you only give the peppers to your dog. Even a small bit of onion is toxic to dogs and should never be given!
Second, don’t give your dog a whole pepper. Instead, it is better to cut them into smaller pieces. This will make them easier to digest, and you won’t have to worry about your dog choking on a big piece.
Finally, introduce peppers slowly if it’s the first time, to see how your dog reacts. If your dog seems to like the taste and tolerate them well, you can start incorporating them occasionally, in normal amounts.
On the other hand, if you notice that your dog doesn’t enjoy them or digest them well, don’t force this vegetable on him or her. Watch out for signs of vomiting, diarrhea or flatulence as signs that the bell pepper doesn’t agree with your dog and he is struggling to digest it. These side effects are rare, but may happen, especially if your dog eats a lot of bell peppers all of a sudden. If they don’t seem to agree with your dog, there are plenty of other healthy options out there!
If you follow these guidelines, you can serve them in whatever way you and your dog find the best. You can either serve the pepper pieces raw or mashed together with dog food or some other vegetables. Some dogs may find it difficult to chew on raw bell peppers, as their teeth aren’t made for chewing on vegetables. If that’s the case, steaming some pepper pieces will facilitate the chewing and digestion process a lot!
The best way to serve bell peppers to your dog is by cutting it into small pieces. You can serve them raw or steamed.
How Much Peppers Should Dogs Eat?
Even though peppers are safe and healthy, there’s no reason to go overboard! Feeding your dog a lot of capsicum won’t make the benefits any bigger, but it may upset your dog’s stomach. An upset stomach can lead to diarrhea and vomiting – something we’re guessing you don’t want for your dog?
So, it is best to feed peppers only occasionally (5), as a treat IF your dog likes them. Dogs don’t have the same nutritional requirements that we do. So, vegetables aren’t equally important to them, even though they can be beneficial.
And once again, start introducing them slowly if your dog has never had them before. Any new food should always be introduced gradually, in order to see the reaction. Not all dogs like the same things, so you have to see what your dog likes!
Feed bell peppers occasionally and in moderation. 5-10% of your dog’s daily food intake is the right amount of treats you could feed your dog with. Do not exceed this rule!
Great news – peppers are not only safe for dogs to eat, they’re quite healthy too! These vegetables are rich in vitamins, fiber, anti-oxidants and beta-carotene – just to name a few benefits. They’re believed to help boost the immune system as they are packed with anti-oxidants and vitamin C. They may also help with eye health and joint issues too.
However, since capsicum is a broad term, you have to be sure of which peppers are safe for your dog, and which are not. The general rule is – sweet peppers, such as bell peppers in all colors, are safe while spicy peppers or chili peppers should be avoided. If you follow this rule everything will be fine and your dog will be able to enjoy some capsicum now and then, presuming that he or she likes it.
You can be very creative when serving peppers to your dog and you can serve them either raw or steamed, plain or mashed together with some other food. Whichever way you choose, just remember to serve them ripe and without any spicing, most importantly with no garlic or onion. And as always, start introducing any new food slowly and don’t overdo it. There’s no need to go overboard with the amount- Dogs will benefit from small amounts, given occasionally.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Margarita Boyd, BVSc MRCVS.
Margarita graduated from the University of Liverpool, earning a Bachelor in Veterinary Science with distinction. She worked in small animal and equine practice for a few years, before choosing to focus solely on companion animals. She has developed a special interest in internal medicine and ophthalmology.