If you like spicy foods, it is only natural to wonder whether your dog might like them too. Certainly, many dogs will show a strong interest in their owners’ food no matter how spicy it is. But is it a good idea to feed spicy food to your dog? Let’s take a deeper dive into how your four-legged friend may react to these more extreme eats.
Can your dog taste spicy food?
Dogs and humans are similar in many ways and one of those ways has to do with how we perceive taste. Dogs can taste most of the same basic flavors that we do, with the exception of salt. They do not have as refined a palate owing to the fact that they have fewer taste buds (about 1,700 compared to the 9,000 in humans) but they have a vastly more powerful sense of smell.
While dogs can taste the same main tastes as humans, they do react to them differently. For example, dogs can taste salt but do not like it as much as humans. Researchers believe that this is because the wild ancestors of our domesticated pets were able to get enough of the mineral in their diet and did not need it from additional sources.
When it comes to the heat in chili peppers or wasabi, a dog will not actually be able to taste it or detect the heat but it may have other effects.
The effects of spice on dogs
If you are an experienced dog owner, you already know that there are many foods that humans eat but which are off-limits for dogs. Even though peppers may not have the same taste to dogs that they have to humans, they can still cause symptoms further along the gastrointestinal tract. For example, they may experience short-term symptoms like stomach pain along with flatulence and intense thirst. In some cases, spicy food can cause major long-term health problems such as canine pancreatitis. Canine pancreatitis is a health problem that affects mainly middle-aged and older female dogs.
Note that the dangers to your pet come not only from the hot peppers and other sources of heat. Many spicy foods may contain other ingredients that are even more dangerous to dogs such as onions and garlic. Onion and garlic can cause anemia in dogs even in relatively small amounts, whether fresh or in powdered form.
Note that food containing spices that still tastes mild to you might still be too spicy for your dog. Even a tiny amount of spice might have unwanted effects.
What should you do if your dog has eaten spicy food?
If your dog has eaten something spicy, it may cause the aforementioned short-term symptoms but eating spicy food once should not cause them any serious health problems. Simply wait for your dog to pass the chili pepper (or other spicy food) out in their stool. There is no need to take any additional action, aside from keeping your dog away from spicy foods in the future.