Can dogs eat peppers and onions? It’s a question that may well be on your mind if your four-legged friend is eager to share your dinner with you, or if you’re looking to reduce food waste in your home by feeding Fido any leftover veggies that you and your family aren’t going to eat yourselves.
It’s also a question that doesn’t seem to have any straight answer. Depending on where you look and who you ask, the advice about which vegetables are safe for dogs to eat and which aren’t can sometimes seem conflicted, confusing, and even completely contradictory.
That’s where this guide comes in.
Today, the canine dietary experts here at Canine Weekly answer all of your questions about whether your dog can eat peppers and onions, how to feed them, and any alternatives you might want to consider instead.
Can Dogs Eat Peppers and Onions? Your Questions Answered
The first thing we need to be mindful of when we’re deciding whether to feed peppers to our dogs is that there’s actually lots of different types of pepper (over 50,000 of them to be exact) and just because it’s safe to feed them one type doesn’t mean it’s safe to feed them another.
Of course, it would take us forever and day to go through all 50,000 varieties, we can at least talk about some of the more common types of pepper that you’re most likely to have in your home.
Can Dogs Eat Bell Peppers?
Sweet, juicy, and delicious, bell peppers are what many of us first think of when we think of peppers.
The good news is that yes, dogs can eat bell peppers safely.
They’re non-toxic and unlikely to cause digestion issues or other issues.
In fact, bell peppers are actually a great source of nutrition for your furry friend and make a very healthy addition to homemade dog food recipes.
They contain ample amounts of Vitamins A, C, and E which can help them maintain healthy skin, coat, bones, and digestive systems.
Bell peppers also contain healthy amounts of carotenoids, which are the pigments that give them their distinctly vibrant red, yellow, and green color and can act as a powerful type of antioxidant.
Which Color of Bell Pepper Can Dogs Eat?
There’s more good news here in that all three common types of bell pepper -red, green, and yellow- are perfectly safe for dogs.
That said, red bell peppers contain significantly higher amounts of vitamins than their green and yellow counterparts, as well as higher levels of beta-carotene, which not only serves as an antioxidant, but can also help keep their mind sharp, and promote a healthy respiratory system.
What’s the Best Way to Feed Bell Peppers to Dogs?
Sliced and diced bell peppers can make a tasty, healthy alternative to regular dog treats, or they can simply be cut up and mixed in with their regular food.
Cooking bell peppers before you feed them to your dog will help to soften them and make them easier to digest, especially for puppies or older dogs who have trouble chewing.
However, it’s important to cook them on their own and avoid adding any spices, seasoning or flavors as these could be toxic to your dog. It’s especially important that you avoid mixing them with onions and garlic as these can be particularly hazardous to their health. In other words, if you’re planning to feed them any leftover bell pepper after cooking a meal for your family, cook that bell pepper intended for your dog separately to those peppers used to feed your family.
Can Dogs Eat Chili Peppers and Other Spicy Peppers?
In short, no. It’s not safe to feed chili peppers, jalapeños, and other spicy types to your dog as these can be harmful.
If you’ve ever eaten a spicy pepper before, you’ll know how much that heat can affect the inside of your mouth. The same thing happens in dogs, and while some of us humans actually enjoy spicy foods, pups tend not to.
The heat can be uncomfortable at best and downright painful at worst, not to mention its ability to cause all manner of gastrointestinal distress.
You may be able to tell if your dog has eaten a chili pepper or other spicy variety because their eyes may water, they may sneeze, cough, or even foam at the mouth.
In that case, you might want to put a little pup-friendly milk in their bowl to help them cool the inside of the mouth and call your veterinarian for advice.
Can Dogs Eat Onions?
Much as is the case with spicy peppers, it’s simply not safe to feed onions to your dog.
That’s because onions contain a toxic substance called N-propyl disulfide which attaches the oxygen molecules in their red blood cells, restricting those cells’ ability to carry oxygen throughout their body.
As a result, your dog’s body comes to see its own red blood cells as a poisonous invader and destroys them, ultimately leading to your dog developing a condition known as hemolytic anemia.
This applies to all types of onions, all parts of the onion, and all the many different ways in which onion can be prepared. Indeed, it doesn’t matter whether that onion is fried, boiled, or raw, it’s still not a good idea to feed it to your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Food Made from Onion Powder?
Sadly, onion powder is even more toxic to dogs than pure, raw onion as it’s usually mixed with other harmful ingredients. Therefore, it should be avoided at all costs.
That means keeping Rover away from any soups, stews, or other foods with onion powder as an ingredient.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Onions
First things first, don’t panic, and keep in mind that the amount of onion eaten, and the size of your dog, are important factors in determining the severity of the onion toxicity.
A small nibble of raw onion by a Great Dane, for example, is unlikely to be as serious as it would be if the same amount was devoured by a tiny Yorkshire Terrier.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), signs of onion toxicity in dogs can include:
- Blood in urine
- Weakness and fatigue
- High heart rate
- Reduced appetite.
If you do notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s best to contact your vet right away for diagnosis and treatment.
Alternatives to Peppers and Onions to Feed Your Dog
So, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the things your dog can’t eat, but what about the things they can eat?
If you’re still looking to incorporate more healthy vegetables into your dog’s diets, here are a few suitable alternatives to peppers and onions.
There’s a good reason why carrots consistently crop-up in scores of best-selling dog-food brands:
They’re so inherently good for our four-legged companions.
Not only are carrots low in calories and high in fiber, but they also provide plenty of that health-promoting beta-carotene that we looked at earlier, ensuring your dog gets lots of Vitamin A and Anti-Oxidants.
Like carrots, green beans are a great high-fiber, low-calorie treat that are packed full of vitamins and minerals. If you feed green beans to your dog, make sure they’re plain, and that if they come from a can, you give them the low or no-salt option.
Prefer to give them some delicious fresh fruit rather than vegetables? Dogs can eat watermelon safely and many enjoy doing so, especially as it helps keep them cool and hydrated on long, hot days.
Its cooling properties aren’t the only advantage that watermelon has. It also contains lots of vitamin A, B-6, and C and healthy amounts of potassium.
Can Dogs Eat Peppers and Onions? The Verdict
So, to sum up then, onions should be avoided at all costs as they can lead to anemia and all of the awful symptoms that go along with it.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that dogs can eat peppers as long as they’re bell peppers and not chili peppers, jalapeño peppers, and other spicy varieties.
Think about it this way:
If a pepper would be noticeably hot in your mouth, it’s likely to be painful and unpleasant to your dog. Bell peppers, on the other hand, are safe, and while red peppers may contain the most vitamins and antioxidants, the green and yellow varieties are still pretty healthy too.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should immediately start cramming as many bell peppers into their meals and treat times as possible.
As with most foods, it’s best to start small and see how they go as some dogs may not respond well to peppers. For larger dogs, stick to no more than half of a regular-sized pepper in one go, and for smaller breeds, a quarter of a pepper should be more than enough.
Stick to that, and what you’ve got with bell peppers is a nutritious, vitamin-packed addition to the diet that adds lots of health benefits with none of the toxicity problems caused by onions.
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.