Bulldog looking at a capsicum in disgust.

Can Dogs Eat Capsicum?
Fact Checked By Our Vet

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Canine Coach, Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 18th January 2024

This cooking essential is delicious and healthy for humans… but should your dog try it out? If your dog just sneaked a piece of capsicum and you’re wondering what to do, this one is for you. Here’s what researchers have to say about capsicum for dogs.


Can Dogs Eat Capsicum?

Capsicum, also known as bell peppers, are safe for dogs to eat.

Related: What Vegetables Can Dogs Eat?

Red, green, orange and yellow capsicum are ok for dogs regardless of their colour. Since the only change is the state of ripeness, capsicums of all colours share the same nutritional profile.

PRO TIP: If your dog has a sensitive stomach, try red capsicum first. Green capsicums are unripe, so they are slightly more difficult to digest than their ripe version.


Possible Benefits of Capsicum For Dogs

Capsicums are full of micro and macronutrients that can be very beneficial for humans. Luckily, research shows that animals (including dogs) might also get similar benefits.

Related: Best Veges For Dogs.

Here are the pros of giving a bit of capsicum to your dog:

  • Improved iron absorption: Iron is essential to keep your dog away from anaemia, but as a mineral, it can be hard to absorb. The high levels of vitamin C in capsicums exponentially increase iron absorption in the gut [3]. By adding a few pieces to their diet, your dog will be able to take in more iron from their food.
  • Stronger immune system: Capsicums are exceptionally high in vitamin C, without the typical acidity from other sources like lemons and oranges. Since dogs don’t tolerate acidic foods, capsicum might be a great way of bumping up the vitamin C in their diet and boosting their immune system.
  • Fibre-rich: Adequate fibre intake will prevent constipation and keep your dog’s microbiome healthy. Unfortunately, it’s common for dogs to lack fibre in their diet. Adding a few fibre-rich treats (like capsicum or pumpkin) can round up your dog’s diet and prevent scooting all over the house.
  • Better eye health: The red and yellow colour in capsicums are due to carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that play a significant role in eye health. According to researchers, carotenoids in fruits and vegetables have a protective effect on the retina [4]. As part of a balanced diet, consistent consumption of carotenoid-rich foods can improve eye health in the long term.

Risks of Capsicum For Dogs

Despite the possible health and nutritional benefits, there are some risks associated with feeding capsicum to dogs.

In our experience, the main issue is mistakenly giving a spicy pepper to your pup. One thing needs to be clear: capsicums are never spicy. However, some newer varieties could be mistaken for regular capsicum which can be very hot.

Plant developers have created hybrids that mix the bigger size of capsicums with the taste of chillies [1]. This results in a large pepper that SHOULD not be given to any pet. Generally speaking, these hybrid peppers are difficult to find in Australian markets, but gardeners might have access through nurseries or seed packets. If you or a friend grow spicy peppers, we recommend keeping your dog supervised when out in the garden.

Other than accidentally giving a spicy treat to your dog, some pups have very sensitive stomachs and cannot handle capsicum. A very sensitive dog might develop irritation in their mouth, oesophagus and stomach. In those cases, diarrhoea and vomiting are common and could lead to dehydration.

If your dog seems unwell or has physical symptoms after eating capsicum, keep an eye on them and tell your vet as soon as possible.


How To Give Capsicum To A Dog

  • Choose the right kind: Make sure you are offering actual capsicum and not a spicy variant that looks similar.
  • Take out the seeds: Seeds are harder to digest and might irritate your dog’s stomach more than necessary.
  • Cut up in bite-sized pieces: Pieces that are too big could be a choking risk, particularly if your pup is small or if they tend to swallow their food whole. Cut capsicum into pieces small enough to be eaten easily without getting lodged into the trachea.
  • Start small: As with any new food, introduce capsicum very slowly to avoid digestive trouble and gauge whether your dog can tolerate it. Give them a small piece and then wait a few hours for any adverse reactions. If they seem fine, go ahead and repeat.
  • Keep it occasional: This veggie is a healthy treat, but don’t go overboard. Stick to offering capsicum once or twice a week at most, and never more than a few pieces. Too much and your dog might end up with indigestion!

FAQ

How often can a dog eat capsicum?

If you introduce capsicum slowly and your dog responds well, it can be an occasional treat.

This means giving a couple of pieces of capsicum a few times a week will be enough. In general, treats shouldn’t represent more than 10% of your dog’s diet.

Can dogs eat chillies or spicy peppers?

No.

Depending on how sensitive your dog is, eating spicy food might be a serious health risk for your dog. The compounds in chillies immediately irritate your dog’s GI system and will promptly cause vomiting, diarrhoea and bloating. If left unattended (or if your dog ate lots of spicy food), the irritation can cause inflammation, colitis and gastroenteritis.

Dogs that are vomiting and have diarrhoea for more than a couple of hours need to be taken to the vet ASAP because they are at high risk of dehydration.

In short, never give your dog spicy food or hot chillies, and if they somehow eat it, treat it as a veterinarian emergency.

References

  1. Are bell peppers spicy, ever? https://www.pepperscale.com/are-bell-peppers-spicy/
  2. Hepper. Dog ate chilli or spicy food? Here’s what to do. https://www.hepper.com/dog-ate-chili-spicy-food-vet-answer/  
  3. Thankachan et al. Iron absorption in young Indian women. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18400710/  
  4. Moeller et al. The potential role of dietary xanthophylls in cataract and age-related macular degeneration. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11023002/

Eloisa Thomas


Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}