Health & Wellness
If you’ve been wondering if you can throw a slice or two of bell peppers to your pup, here’s some good news: yes, you can! Those colorful peppers that go so perfectly with ranch dressing, a dollop of hummus and your favorite stir fry are just as good for your dog as they are for you (they just have to be served to pups plain!).
In fact, bell peppers are a fun way to give your pup a crunchy and fresh treat. That said, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you slice up a few extra peppers for your dog.
And even though bell peppers are generally safe for your dog, always consult your vet before introducing a new food item to their diet.
“Red, yellow and green bell peppers are safe for dogs to eat,” Dr. Chyrle Bonk, DVM, a veterinary consultant for PetKeen, says. “Bell peppers contain vitamins C, A and E. They’re also packed with other antioxidants that can help with chronic illnesses and slow the progression of aging. All colors of bell peppers contain these beneficial nutrients, but are highest in red ones.”
So if you’re slicing up bell peppers to make a batch of fajitas for yourself, and a slice or two fall to your dog, don’t sweat it! Dr. Bonk just warns that the pepper skins may be hard for some dogs to digest.
“If you plan to give bell peppers to dogs as regular treats, steaming, sautéing or dicing them may help improve digestion. Although a couple of thin raw slices with the skin on shouldn’t be much of an issue,” she says.
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It’s not just the skins themselves you need to be wary of, but how you’re preparing and serving bell peppers to your dog. While the peppers themselves are an extremely healthy snack for your pup, you don’t want to serve them with any hummus or dip you might be putting on your own slices of bell peppers. Those are off-limits for your pup along with any peppers with seasoning.
“The seasonings that are sometimes used on peppers can be toxic for dogs,” Dr. Bonk says. “Salt, garlic and onion can all be toxic to a dog if eaten in high enough amounts. Also, cooking in a lot of oil or butter adds extra fat and can cause an upset stomach.”
So instead of scooping your leftover stir fry veggies into your pup’s bowl, plan on test-driving your dog’s tolerance for bell peppers in a more controlled manner.
“Start with small amounts and make sure your pup can handle them. Some dogs will like peppers and have no problems, while others may get an upset stomach. Removing the seeds may help dogs that are a little more sensitive to them,” Dr. Bonk says.
As far as serving-sizes go, you may have to go by trial and error to see what’s desired and tolerated — it's best to ask your vet for advice on this one. Bonk says smaller dogs could have a couple slices at a time, and larger dogs could eat as much as a quarter to half a pepper. You can try feeding them straight from your hand like a treat, or you can dice up smaller pieces to mix with your dog’s regular food.
And one last tip — if you can’t imagine serving your dog bell peppers without a little dipping sauce, try putting dog-safe peanut butter on the peppers. This is one safe dip Bonk says you can serve up with the peppers as long as you don’t overdo it — a little goes a long way.
One other thing to keep in mind is that even though sweet bell peppers are safe for dogs, spicy peppers are not.
“Avoid giving your dog spicy peppers of any variety — no jalapeños, chiles or habaneros,” Dr. Bonk says. “These can just be too much for their digestive system and cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and stomach pain.”
Next time you’re picking up groceries, don’t be shy about throwing a couple extra bell peppers into your cart to share with your dog. A few slices a day won’t do any harm, and could even help boost your dog’s nutritional health.
We're confident that bell peppers aren’t the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series "Can dogs eat … ?" to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what's fair game.
The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.