Bell Peppers are a popular vegetable with lots of nutritional value. But can dogs eat bell peppers? Or are they toxic to canines? Keep reading to find out.
Providing they like the taste, bell peppers are safe for your dog to eat. They can make a healthy treat option, but, as with any vegetable, should only be given in moderation.
Bell peppers shouldn’t be confused with spicy chilli peppers. While chilli peppers aren’t toxic, they contain an irritant called capsaicin. This can cause severe discomfort and stomach upsets.
Are Bell Peppers Safe for Dogs to Eat?
Bell peppers of all colors (red, yellow and green) are non-toxic and safe for your dog to eat. In moderation, they may even provide nutritional benefits, as they provide Vitamins A, C, and other nutrients.
This vegetable can be fed raw, although cooked bell peppers are easier for your dog to digest due to the softened outer skin.
The seeds and stems aren’t toxic either, but it’s best to remove these before feeding them to your dog. The tough stem is difficult to digest, while the seeds have a bitter taste that your dog probably won’t enjoy.
Make sure you only feed plain bell peppers to your dog, as seasonings could be harmful. Garlic and onions, for example, are both highly toxic to your dog. Even salt can cause health problems, as it can lead to dehydration. Excessive salt is also dangerous for dogs with renal problems.
How Many Can Dogs Eat?
While there are lots of vegetables that are safe for dogs, their diet should be made up predominantly of proteins and healthy fats.
This means that bell peppers should only be fed occasionally as a treat. Supplemental foods and treats should only make up around 10% of your dog’s daily diet.
Introduce Bell Peppers in Small Quantities
Whenever you introduce a new food to your dog’s diet, take it slowly to make sure they don’t suffer any adverse reactions. Try offering one slice and monitor for signs of an allergic reaction or gastrointestinal intolerance.
An allergic reaction often causes skin irritation. Your dog may start to itch more, and they could develop a rash, hot spots or swelling. Gastrointestinal issues, such as an upset stomach, are also common. In severe cases, allergies can cause respiratory problems.
Allergic reactions can happen almost instantly, or take longer to manifest. Ideally, you’ll want to wait a few days to ensure there are no negative side effects before you feed more bell peppers.
Note: If your dog shows any signs of an allergic reaction to bell peppers, you should always seek advice from your vet. If your dog has known food sensitivities, check with your vet before introducing new foods.
Avoid Feeding Too Many
Even if your dog appears to tolerate bell peppers, you shouldn’t go crazy with the amount you feed them. A daily treat of half a pepper for large dogs and a quarter for small dogs is more than enough.
If you give your dog too many, it could cause an upset stomach and even diarrhea. Peppers aren’t a normal part of your dog’s diet, so their digestive system may not cope.
Plus, these veggies are relatively high in sugars – it’s what gives them their sweet taste. Too much sugar in your dog’s diet can lead to weight gain, dental issues, and more serious problems, like diabetes.
Are There Nutritional Benefits of Bell Peppers for Dogs?
Bell peppers are a low-calorie vegetable. Made up predominantly of water, they’re also a healthy source of carbohydrates.
Dogs don’t need bell peppers as part of their daily diet though. Providing they are eating a well-balanced commercial dog food or home-cooked diet, they’ll be getting all the nutrients they need.
Eating a small amount of bell peppers as a treat, however, could offer some health benefits for your dog. This popular vegetable contains a host of beneficial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some of these include:
- Vitamin C. As far as vegetables go, red bell peppers are one of the richest in this essential vitamin. Although dogs produce Vitamin C themselves and it shouldn’t be over supplemented, getting some extra from bell peppers could help to boost your dog’s immune system.
- Vitamin B6. A beneficial supplement when treating dry, flaky skin, this vitamin can also help with red blood cell health, regulating hormones and could even have a calming effect on your dog.
- Potassium. Boosting your dog’s intake of this vitamin could help your dog maintain a healthy heart rate, nerve function, blood pressure and joints.
- Vitamin E. An essential vitamin for dogs, topping up on Vitamin E with a pepper treat could boost their immune system. Vitamin E may also promote muscle health and a healthy skin and coat.
- Quercetin. This antioxidant can be helpful when dealing with allergies, itchy skin, inflammation and cases of cystitis.
All peppers provide beneficial nutrients, but red peppers contain higher quantities of Vitamin E and Vitamin C compared to green peppers or yellow peppers.
Red bell peppers are also higher in beta carotene. This converts to Vitamin A in the body and can be great for promoting eye health.
What About Other Types of Peppers?
Spicy chilli peppers should never be fed to your dog. Although they’re non-toxic, hot peppers could burn your dog’s mouth, resulting in discomfort and irritation. They can also cause your dog to have an upset stomach or diarrhea.
Of course, some peppers are hotter than others. Super-hot chillies, such as Habanero or Scotch Bonnet, will cause more discomfort than a milder variety, although any chilli pepper could be problematic for a dog.
If your dog gets hold of a particularly spicy chilli, or appears in discomfort, you should always contact your vet for advice.
Bell peppers are a low-calorie vegetable that’s packed with nutrients. When fed occasionally, they are a healthy and tasty treat for your dog.
As with any vegetable, bell peppers should only be given in moderation. Too many could cause a stomach upset. You should also introduce bell peppers slowly, to watch for signs of an allergy or intolerance.