Your order for a burrito has just been delivered to your home, and as you get ready to eat, you find your dog staring at you with puppy eyes begging to have a taste. Dogs are naturally curious and will want to know what their owner is doing or eating. And while giving in to your dog and giving it a taste of your burrito is not hard, it is safe to ask whether dogs can eat spicy food and how it affects them.
Can Dogs Taste Spicy Food?
Dogs cannot actually taste spicy food. However, they can detect and react to the heat that comes after eating spicy food. Basically, this means that as much your dog cannot detect the spicy flavor in food, expect some physical reactions, including vomiting, upset stomach, and general discomfort.
Do Dogs Like Spicy Foods?
Since dogs have fewer taste buds, they usually will not enjoy sour and bitter foods. Spicy foods have some bitter taste in them. Some that have huge amounts of peppers and tomatoes may have a sour taste. This means that your dog will not enjoy any spicy meals you give it.
They will not like the taste, and a few minutes after eating, they are likely to experience uncomfortable symptoms. Some of these symptoms may include thirst and excessive salivation and sweating on their paws. These reactions are similar to what humans experience when they eat extremely spicy meals and are not used to.
How Do Taste Buds Work In A Dog?
The taste buds in a dog work the same way they do in humans. Meaning, dogs can taste sour, sweet, bitter, and salty. The major difference is that humans have more taste buds than dogs. While humans have 9000, dogs only have around 1700. That means that a dog’s taste spectrum is limited. Due to these limitations, a dog will rely more on its sense of smell than on taste.
They, therefore, assess whether something is safe to eat by smelling it rather than tasting it. This is done through an organ called the vomeronasal organ that also helps dogs detect pheromones, which they also use in sexual interactions.
What Flavors Can Your Dog Taste?
As much as their taste buds are fewer, dogs can still differentiate between flavors. This means that there are some flavors they prefer more than others. Apart from the sweet, salty, sour, and bitter flavors, dogs have taste receptors, particularly for meats.
If you are keen, you may notice that dogs do not like foods that are bitter and salty-tasting. In fact, because of this information, some products are specifically designed to prevent dogs from chewing on them.
What Flavors Do Dogs Like?
You may be surprised to learn that dogs do not care much about flavor. Picture this, every time you give your dog food, it just gobbles it as fast as possible. Whether it is steak or dog food you just bought, the dog will still eat it as fast without savoring flavors. This is because dogs love smell compared to flavor, and they have a stronger sense of smell than taste. Therefore, when it comes to smells, your dog likes meaty and fatty smells.
Can Spicy Food Kill Dogs?
Hardly can spicy food kill dogs, especially if it is taken in low amounts. However, there are some ingredients in spicy food that can lead to pancreatitis and anemia. If these conditions are not treated right away, they can be terminal. Since most spicy foods do not have toxins, your dog will likely be okay.
Does Spicy Food Hurt Dogs?
While spicy food will not kill your dog, it is definitely going to affect it. Just because the dog cannot taste the spicy flavor does not mean it is immune from the burning feeling spicy food comes with. The dog might actually feel that heat more than you, meaning that a small amount of pepper you have put in the food can give your dog a lot of pain. Your dog is likely to have gastrointestinal issues and skin irritation after eating the food. Other signs you may notice include:
- Excessive gas
- Stomach pains
If your dog starts licking its lips, whining, pacing, and shaking the head after you have fed it spicy food, then be sure the food made the dog uncomfortable and caused it pain.
Which Spices Should I Keep Away From My Dog?
There are specific spices you should not expose your dog to. They include:
- Onions- They have disulfides and sulfoxides, which affect the red blood cells and, with time, cause anemia. An onion in any form will cause discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Nutmeg- It can upset the stomach and overstimulate the dog’s nervous system. It also drains your dog and is considered toxic.
- Cocoa powder- it has a similar compound to cocoa powder and caffeine, which can harm the dog’s nervous system.
- Garlic -As much as some dog owners use garlic to keep fleas away, garlic is toxic, and you should first consult a vet before using it.
- Salt- avoid feeding your dog food with salt. It makes them thirsty and they urinate more than usual, which can lead to dehydration. A huge intake of salt can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.
Treating Spicy Food Reactions
If you have been careless in the way you are feeding your dog human food, now you know what to avoid. However, accidents happen as well, and it is better to be prepared for anything. So how do you treat spicy food reactions?
- Start with water- Water will dilute that spicy feeling that is making the dog restless.
- Give them some milk- If water is not doing it, then try some milk. It can help calm that burning feeling. However, if your dog is lactose intolerant, then only give it a small amount of milk.
- Call your vet- When milk and water are not cutting it, give the vet a call. This is important, particularly when the symptoms are getting severe, like diarrhea and vomiting.
Spicy Food Safety Tips
When you own a dog, you need to be responsible, ensuring it is healthy, happy, and safe. That does not mean you stop eating spicy food, considering it has health benefits. However, when you are eating, ensure your dog will not run into any leftovers. Also, keep the plate away to ensure your dog does not lick it. If you are a fan of hot peppers and chilis, when prepping meals, also keep your little friend away from the kitchen or be cautious.
Can Dogs Detect Spicy Food?
Nutritional experts believe that dogs cannot detect spicy food the way humans can. However, once they have eaten the food, they can feel the bitter flavor of spicy food. But even that will not be as strong for them as for humans. As mentioned earlier, what they are likely to experience is the burning sensation that comes from spicy food. However, when you are prepping a meal that has spices that cause human eyes to water, your dog may also feel the same impact or even worse.
Why Would A Dog Eat Spicy Food?
Of course, there is an exception to the rule for different reasons. For instance, a dog can develop tolerance to spicy food the same way as humans. Take, for example, a dog in an Indian household where the bigger percentage of their meals are spicy. A dog in such a home will eat plenty of spice. However, most likely, they are eating the food because it comes from a human plate or has meat in it.
Why Does My Dog Like Spicy Food?
Your dog does not like spicy food exactly. That is because dogs cannot taste the spicy flavor of the food. However, there are certain meals like fatty and meaty meals that your dog will still enjoy even when spicy.
Are Chilly and Pepper Bad for Dogs?
A dog’s intestines are not that developed, and so they may not be able to digest spices. If you have noticed, even most humans cannot stand spicy food, yet they have developed digestive systems. When a dog takes chili and pepper, it will end up vomiting and diarrhea. Considering that there may be other errors in their diet, this will lead to the development of gastritis and enteritis. In worse cases, it can cause pancreatitis and liver problems. Therefore, if anyone has told you chili and pepper will not hurt your dog, they have lied. The only person who should give your dog dietary advice is a vet.
Are There Spicy Foods with Health Benefits?
When given in small amounts, some spices are beneficial to the dog. However, first, consult with a veterinarian before adding any spice to your dog’s diet. Common spices with health benefits include:
- Cinnamon- If taken in small amounts, cinnamon can improve digestion, blood circulation, and brain function in your dog.
- Bell peppers- Even though you should not feed your dog some hot peppers like chili peppers and jalapenos, professional vets suggest that bell peppers come with a few health benefits for dogs. They are rich in lutein and vitamins A, E, B6. Also, they are a good source of vitamin C which helps strengthen the immune system of the dog.
- Turmeric- There is evidence that feeding your dog foods containing turmeric can help with inflammation. Aside from that, turmeric helps in pain management for dogs with arthritis.
Do Dogs Care About the Taste of Things?
Dogs can distinguish four tastes, which are salty, sweet, bitter, and sour. However, even with that, they still have fewer taste buds, which means they also have a low sensitivity to taste. The ways those few taste buds have been distributed in a dog’s mouth contribute to how your dog perceives flavors.
For instance, receptors for bitter taste are located on the back of the tongue. That explains why a bitter taste may take time to register. Sour and salty taste receptors are located on the sides of the tongue.
However, receptors for unique tastes tuned to detect fatty and meaty food are located all over the dog’s tongue. Dogs hate the sour and bitter taste and do not care much about salty foods. This is because they have evolved to eat meat that contains salt naturally and is enough to satisfy their body.
In general, to dogs, taste does not matter so much as it does to humans. And spiciness has nothing to do with taste but an unrelated sensation.
How Can I Add Variety To a Dog’s Food?
There are several ways you can add variety to your dog’s meal if you are looking to enhance their eating experience, and they do not have to include spices. For instance, instead of sticking to one brand of dog food, try a few now and then. Also, instead of always buying baked dog treats from the market, how about baking them from home? Dogs enjoy ginger biscuits, and ginger comes with several health benefits.