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Can Dogs Eat Chili?

If you have a puppy, adult dog, or senior pooch, you may know that dogs shouldn’t eat human food and treats. Sure, the occasional treat probably won’t hurt your doggie, and there are some foods we eat that’s safe for dogs. 

But that makes knowing what foods aren’t safe all the more important so you can make sure your pooch is ok, no matter how much they look at you with puppy-dog eyes and beg for a taste of the yummy-looking morsel you are eating. 

So is chili good for dogs? Can you dog share your chili meal with you? Let’s find out.  

Can Dogs Eat Chili?

Your dog shouldn’t eat chili – whether it is a chili pepper, chili or chile powder, or a dish like chili con carne made from your famous chili recipe. While not fatal, dogs are sensitive to spicy foods. Chilis or chiles contain solanine and capsaicin, so when your dog eats chili, it can upset their stomach and digestive tract. Your chili dish may also contain other ingredients, like onions or garlic, that aren’t healthy for dogs to eat.  

The capsaicin is an enzyme that irritates your dog’s digestive tract when they eat anything that contains this chemical. The irritation can cause inflammation, which leads to painful digestive problems and even acute stomach infection. 

The enzyme capsaicin also causes your dog’s heart rate to increase, which triggers hypertension. Your dog’s body can also start to heat up more because of the capsaicin, resulting in lesions and skin rashes. 

Should Your Dog Eat Chili Peppers? 

Dogs shouldn’t eat chili peppers because they contain capsaicin and solanine that can cause intense burning sensations in your dog’s esophagus and other digestive discomforts. 

If you feed your dog a chili pepper, for example, they aren’t able to taste the spiciness from the fruit because their tongue isn’t as sensitive to flavors as ours are. Dogs only have around 1,700 taste buds, so they can taste the bitter and sourness of a chili pepper. (People have 9,000 taste buds, which is why we can taste the hotness of chili).   

If you do feed your dog a very tiny amount of chili, it may not do any harm. And your pooch may not show or have any adverse effects. But if your dog eats a lot of chili (depending on their size), they will be sick and you may need to call your vet. 

If your pooch consistently eats chili, long-term damage to their intestines and esophagus will result.  

Should Your Dog Eat Chili Powder? 

Your dog shouldn’t eat chili powder (also called chili powder blend or chili seasoning mix), which is a spice blend. Chili powder is made from ground dried chiles (or chili peppers) and other spices like cumin, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, paprika, and oregano. So there’s the digestive distress-causing compounds solanine and capsaicin as well as other ingredients that aren’t beneficial, and are, in fact, harmful, to your dog.      

The capsaicin in chili powder is quite high because it’s more concentrated in powder form. The paprika in the chili powder also contains capsaicin, increasing the quantity of this compound even more. 

The high sodium content of these spice blends can cause tummy and kidney problems. Moreover, too much salt can lead to dehydration, seizures, and tachycardia. 

Garlic and onion are part of the allium family, and they’re poisonous to dogs. Garlic and onion powders are even more poisonous because the thiosulfate compound is more concentrated, leading to anemia, dehydration, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, depression, and diarrhea. 

Should Your Dog Eat Chiles or Chile Powder? 

Your dog shouldn’t eat chiles or chile powder because of the high capsaicin content that can irritate their stomach and cause abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal complications.  

Chile powder contains almost no additives or only a few of them because the powder is made from ground dried chile (or chilis). Each chile powder will be named after the kind of chile that’s ground up. For example, there’s cayenne, chipotle, ancho, piri piri, Bird’s Eye, guajillo, Kashmiri, and habanero chile powders.  

The hotter the chile, the higher the capsaicin quantity. So if your dog eats a really hot chile or chile powder, the power of the capsaicin, the active ingredient, simply increases, which makes it much more likely that your pooch will have a bad reaction to eating a chile or chile powder.     

Should Your Dog Eat Chili Con Carne? 

You shouldn’t feed chili con carne to your dog. The dish contains chili peppers and often salt, garlic, cloves, onion, and potentially other ingredients that are harmful to your dog when ingested. Thiosulfate, found in garlic and onions, are toxic to dogs, while the capsaicin and solanine in chili peppers can cause gastric upset.   

If you make your chili con carne very spicy and your dog gets their helping because they begged you for bite after bite, their pancreas will go into overdrive, producing enzymes that digest the spicy food too early. If your dog eats a lot of spicy or fatty foods, they can develop pancreatitis. 

So yes, you can seldom give your dog a tiny, tiny bite of your chili con carne, but it’s better to refrain from feeding human food to your dog and rather to be safe.  

Can Dogs Eat Canned Chili?

Your dog shouldn’t eat canned chili. Apart from the capsaicin and solanine compounds that cause digestive distress, canned chili also contains a lot of salt and other ingredients, and preservatives that aren’t suitable for dogs. 

Canned chili, depending on the brand, generally contains chile peppers (like jalapeño and chili), chili pepper flavoring (or chili powder), beef or pork, beans, crushed tomatoes, modified cornstarch, soy and corn flour, salt, sugar, onions, and vinegar. 

What stands out are the lots of chili, salt, and onions. All of these can cause digestive issues for your pooch, plus, onions are toxic. 

Vinegar can also cause gastrointestinal upset. Tomatoes are also part of the nightshade family and contain solanine, which in large quantities can be harmful. Plus, if your dog has a sensitive stomach, ingesting tomatoes just further aggravates health problems like gastroenteritis. 

Sugar is also not good for dogs as it can make them pile on weight. Too much sugar can also cause diabetes and dental problems. 

Any preservatives in the canned chili can also cause health problems for your pooch as toxins build up because your dog’s body can’t eliminate preservative toxins well.       

Can Dogs Eat Chili Cheese?

Dogs should not eat chili cheese because it contains various ingredients that are harmful, if not toxic, to dogs. 

No matter what ingredients you use to make your chili cheese, the chilis aren’t safe for your dog to eat because of the pepper’s capsaicin and solanine content. 

Salsa, a common ingredient many add to their chili cheese, contains onion and garlic, both of which is toxic to dogs because of the thiosulfate compound. You may also add jalapeño, lime juice, and salt to your salsa, all of which a dog shouldn’t ingest.  

Cream cheese and shredded cheese are high in fat and calories. While these are okay to give to your dog in small amounts, it is best to avoid sharing cheese with your pooch. It can cause obesity, pancreatitis, and digestive upset.   

Most often, we eat chili cheese with tortilla chips. Feeding your dog tortilla chips is a choking hazard. Tortilla chips also contain a lot of salt and fat, which is unhealthy for your furry friend. And the corn in the chips is one of a many known allergens affecting dogs.  

What Happens If a Dog Eats Chili?

What happens if a dog eats chili depends on how much they eat. A dog may be perfectly fine if they ingest a tiny amount of chili, but if your dog has a sensitive tummy, even a small amount of chili can cause adverse symptoms. The biggest risk comes if your dog eats lots of chili or eats a dish that also contains other ingredients like onions and garlic that’s toxic to dogs.   

If your dog ate a small amount of chili, chances are they are fine with no adverse symptoms. However, if your dog ate a whole bowl of chili or large amounts of chiles or chili powder, then it’s likely your dog will suffer from any of the following: 

  • Excessive drooling 
  • Panting 
  • Runny nose 
  • Dehydration and uncontrollable thirst  
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Indigestion 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Passing gas 
  • Puffy, runny eyes
  • Ulceration of the gastrointestinal system
  • Skin rashes and lesions
  • Hypertension 

If your dog also ingested garlic, onions, salt, and other no-no ingredients, the symptoms and effects can be worse like seizures, shock, and respiratory distress. Thiosulfate (from onions and garlic) damages your dog’s red blood cells, which causes life-threatening anemia.   

What to Do If My Dog Eats Chili?

What you do if your dog ate chili depends on the symptoms your pooch has. In general, however, if your dog ate chili, give your dog first aid treatment by giving them lots of water and then milk to relieve some of the tummy trouble they experience. Call your vet if your dog has persistent symptoms or has trouble breathing. 

Trying first aid if your dog has abdominal pain, diarrhea, and so forth includes: 

  • Ensure your dog drinks lots of water to prevent dehydration and to relieve some of the discomfort they are experiencing after eating chilis. 
  • You can then give them milk, which will neutralize the capsaicin and other toxins. Milk will also stop the heating and burning sensation your dog feels in their esophagus and digestive tract. If you don’t have milk in the house, give your doggo a spoonful of yogurt.  
  • Next, give your pooch some bread so they can go potty – this will help get the chili out of their system. 

Feed your pooch a bland diet for the next few days if they’ve vomited or had diarrhea. After a few days, re-introduce your dog’s normal diet and monitor if any symptoms show up again. 

If your dog ate garlic or onion or other toxic ingredients with the chili, it’s best to take your dog to the vet so they can monitor your dog, do blood tests, and give them IV fluids if necessary. 

If your dog’s symptoms become unmanageable, call your vet, get advice, and follow their instructions to help your dog. Tell your vet exactly what your dog ate, including if the food contained toxic ingredients like garlic.