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Are Bell Peppers Safe for My Dog to Eat?

Sometimes, when slicing a crunchy pepper snack or unpacking a bag of bell peppers, we see hungry eyes peering over the counter. Your dog stands with a pleading expression and wagging tail, happily offering to be a taste tester. But can dogs have peppers? What about bell peppers? Let’s dive into some common dog owner questions about peppers and discuss what’s safe to share and what’s not.

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Dogs and peppers 101

Like many fruits, some peppers are safe for dogs, and some are not. There are many varieties of peppers, from mild and sweet to those that’ll make your eyes water and your mouth and throat burn, so it’s important to be careful when sharing peppers with your dog.

Capsaicin is a compound in peppers that makes them spicy. Dogs and spicy foods do not mix, so you should never feed your dog spicy peppers like jalapenos, chili peppers, and habaneros, or anything seasoned with cayenne pepper, chili powder, hot sauce, or anything else that might be spicy.

Bell peppers are one of only a few pepper varieties that contain no capsaicin. They are at the bottom of the Scoville scale, the measurement for spice created by pharmacologist Wilbur Scoville. The Scoville scale ranks the heat level of peppers based on Scoville Heat Units (SHU), and bell peppers are listed at 0 SHU.

The Scoville scale for peppers

Can dogs eat bell peppers?

Yes — bell peppers are typically on the safe list for fruits and vegetables you can share with your dog. All colors of bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, and green) are non-toxic and even considered nutritious for dogs. However, some dogs can have food sensitivities or certain illnesses, like diabetes or gallbladder disease, that require special diets. Talking to your vet about what’s safe for your dog to eat is always important.

How much bell pepper can I safely feed to my dog?

Moderation is key when sharing any human food with dogs. You should cut the pepper into small pieces to prevent choking, especially when feeding it raw. As a general rule, at most 10% of all dogs' daily calories should come from snacks and treats. A small dog should eat less than one-quarter of a pepper, and a large dog should eat less than one-half. Start slowly to ensure your dog can tolerate bell peppers.

Should I feed my dog raw or cooked bell peppers?

Dogs can eat bell peppers raw or cooked, but washing them thoroughly and removing the stems and seeds is recommended. If you’re cooking bell peppers to share with your dog, ensure they don’t have any added oils or seasonings. Oils can upset your dog’s stomach, and herbs like onions or garlic can be toxic to dogs (this means no sharing fajitas).

What are the nutritional benefits of feeding bell peppers to dogs?

Bell peppers are highly nutritious and full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These can help boost your pup’s immune system and support eye and skin health. Bell peppers are also low in calories and fiber, making them an excellent treat for pups that need to lose a few pounds.

While bell peppers can be a nutritious snack for dogs, it’s important to note that they are not a necessary part of a dog's diet. As long as a dog is eating a complete and balanced WSAVA-compliant diet, it will contain all the required vitamins and minerals in proper amounts.

Can bell peppers cause gastrointestinal issues in dogs?

When introducing a new food or treat to your dog, there’s always the potential for gastrointestinal upset, even if it’s considered a 'safe' food. This is another reason to keep portions small and monitor your dog’s reaction. If your dog displays gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea after eating bell peppers, discontinue feeding them and talk to your vet. They may recommend following a bland diet for a few days.

Are there any potential allergic reactions to bell peppers in dogs?

Food allergies and sensitivities in dogs can occur with virtually any food, although most commonly, they involve proteins. While rare, bell peppers could have the potential to be an allergen. Signs of a bell pepper allergy in dogs can include vomiting, hives, itching, or swelling and warrant a call to your veterinarian.

What about other peppers for dogs?

While there are a few other peppers that also register at 0 SHU on the Scoville scale, they are not as widely distributed or proven safe as bell peppers, so it’s best to avoid them. Play it safe with your dog by sticking to bell peppers only. If you’re looking to expand your pup's palate, there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables deemed safe for dogs.

What other fruits and vegetables can my dog eat?

Most dogs can safely consume small amounts of the following fruits and vegetables (in small pieces, with stems, seeds, and pits removed). However, as with bell peppers, some dogs might have sensitivities or need special diets, so always talk to your vet about what your dog can (or should) have.

Fruits that are safe for dogs

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Watermelon (remove seeds
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew
  • Cucumber

Vegetables that are safe for dogs

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Pumpkin (cooked only)
  • Sweet potato (cooked only)
  • Green beans
  • Beets
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini

What fruits and vegetables should dogs not eat?

While we’re sharing what dogs can eat, it’s also important to mention what they cannot. Some fruits and vegetables can be irritating or toxic to dogs and should never be shared, even in small amounts.

Fruits and vegetables that should never be given to dogs

  • Grapes/raisins
  • Cacao (cocoa or chocolate)
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Chives
  • Leeks
  • Avocados
  • Spicy peppers
  • Wild mushrooms
  • Unripened tomatoes
  • Fruit pits

What should I do if my dog accidentally eats something toxic?

Most dogs love food, and if left within reach, even the most well-behaved pups might be tempted to help themselves. If your dog accidentally eats something it shouldn’t have, the first step is to call your vet or pet poison control. They will advise on the next steps based on what your dog ate, how much it ate, and how much it weighs.

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control 888-426-4435
  • Pet Poison Helpline 855-764-7661

Be advised, there is a fee for these services.

Final takeaways on feeding bell peppers to dogs

If you've introduced bell peppers into your dog's diet, ensure you continue feeding the recommended amount to avoid stomach upset or other potential problems. The skin of bell peppers can be tough, so you might consider mild cooking or steaming to soften. As always, consult your veterinarian before introducing new food to your pet.

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