My Dog Ate Spicy Food And Seems Fine – What Should I Do?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Spicy peppers are not toxic, but they are extremely irritating to the mucosal linings of the digestive system. 
  • Spicy foods cause a burning sensation in the mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract resulting in hypersalivation, vomiting, and diarrhea. 
  • If your dog eats spicy food and shows signs of distress, or if the food contained onions or garlic, take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

It’s fun to sample foods from other culturesIf you have an iron-cast stomach, that can include spicy foods. But should you let your curious furbaby try a small taste? What happens if he sneaks a sample when you step away from your plate?

While the chemicals that make peppers spicy aren’t toxic, they can be extremely irritating and make your dog ill. Not only that, but many spicy dishes contain garlic or onion, and these ingredients can be toxic. 

If your dog eats foods that include toxic items like onion or garlic, contact your veterinarian immediately. Otherwise, you can probably treat your pooch at home.

How much spicy food is toxic to dogs?

How much spicy food your dog can handle varies depending on the ingredients in the dish. If there are chile peppers or chili powder in the food, the chemical capsaicin can cause discomfort and a burning sensation in the mouth, throat, and gut. Adverse symptoms can occur even with a few tastes of spicy food, but the severity usually depends on the dose your dog ingests. 

When the food your dog eats includes onions or garlic, small amounts usually cause gastric upset. But if your pup ingests large quantities of these ingredients, he can suffer damage to his kidneys and red blood cells. If you suspect your pooch ate food that contains onion or garlic, contact your veterinarian immediately and get your dog to the clinic for treatment.

How much spicy food is needed to poison your dog depends on the food’s ingredients. Small quantities of chile peppers and other items containing capsaicin can cause gastric distress. Moderate doses of onions and garlic can cause kidney and red blood cell damage. Call your vet if your dog eats food with onion or garlic.

What should I do if my dog ate spicy food?

If you discover your dog helped himself to a chile pepper or some of your spicy food, you should take action to comfort your pooch and help him recover.

  • Remove any remaining spice from your dog’s mouth. You may need to wipe the tissues or rinse his mouth with water or milk to remove the oily chemicals.
  • If your pup shows signs of pain or extreme discomfort, offer him a few spoons of yogurt with live cultures. The milk works to cool your dog’s irritated mucosal tissues, and the healthy bacteria help support and soothe the digestive system.
  • Provide free access to fresh water. Dogs that experience a burning sensation will want cool water to help relieve their symptoms.
  • Check the other ingredients of the food for toxic substances. If it contains onions or garlic contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Monitor your dog’s symptoms. It’s common for pups to have vomiting, diarrhea, and flatulence after eating spicy food. If the symptoms are severe or continue beyond a few days, contact your vet. 
  • Switch to bland food such as boiled rice and lean chicken for a few days to rest your pal’s gut. 

If your dog ate chile peppers or other spicy food, take steps to help soothe and comfort his digestive system. Clean the mouth to remove any remaining spice and give your pup plenty of water. Check the ingredient list for toxic substances and monitor your dog’s symptoms. Try feeding a bland diet.

When should I take my dog to see the vet?

Many times, you’ll be able to manage your dog’s symptoms at home. However, you should head to the vet if:

  • Your dog appears dull or lethargic
  • Your dog has uncontrolled vomiting/diarrhea
  • There are signs of dehydration such as sticky gums and loss of skin elasticity
  • The symptoms persist beyond 12-24 hours
  • There’s onion or garlic in the food
  • Your dog is acting distressed 
  • Your dog ate a lot of spicy food

You can usually care for your dog at home. If you notice signs that your dog is distressed, dehydrated, or depressed you should head to the vet. Other times to take your dog to the clinic immediately include eating food with lots of spicy or toxic foods.

What if my dog ate plenty of spicy food but seems fine?

Usually, dogs will show signs of discomfort and irritation shortly after ingesting spicy foods that contain capsaicin. But if your pooch eats something with lots of spicy food and seems fine, you may not be in the clear yet. 

When the food your dog eats contains garlic or onions, it can take several days for symptoms of red blood cell or kidney damage to surface. As the toxic chemicals in these ingredients damage the red blood cells, they trigger a cascade of events that can result in kidney damage, collapse, or death if left untreated.

When dogs eat spicy foods, you’ll usually see signs of irritation soon after ingestion, but not always. If garlic and onions are in the food, and they don’t trigger gastric upset, it may take several days before you notice symptoms of red blood cell or kidney damage.

Signs that my dog got onion/garlic poisoning

Early or mild signs of onion or garlic reactions mimic the gastric upset your dog may experience from eating foods with capsaicin, including:

  • Drooling and nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression 

If your dog eats a moderate amount of onion or garlic, the toxins damage the red blood cells. You will notice symptoms of anemia and kidney damage as a result of the damage:

  • Weakness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Panting or increased respiratory rate
  • Pale gums
  • Red-colored urine
  • Increased thirst
  • Increase or decrease in urination

If you know your dog ate food that contained onion or garlic and observe the signs listed above, contact your veterinarian immediately.

At first, the signs of garlic/onion poisoning resemble those that occur when dogs ingest spicy food. However, if your pooch eats enough of these ingredients, you will eventually notice signs of anemia and kidney damage.

What happens to dogs that eat spicy food?

When your dog eats food made with spicy peppers like chiles, capsaicin in the peppers will irritate the mucosal linings of their mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract. The chemical causes a burning sensation in the throat and mouth, acting on the nerves that sense heat to lower their activation temperature. The irritation can trigger hypersalivation and vomiting.

If the food also contains onions and/or garlic, the toxic chemical in these ingredients also irritate the mucosal membranes. However, the more devastating effect of the substance is the damage it affects on red blood cell membranes. As a result, the cells burst, and your dog develops anemia. There’s a reduced ability to deliver oxygen to essential organs in the body. End results include kidney damage, respiratory difficulty, collapse, and death.

The capsaicin in peppers irritates the mucosal linings in youtube dog’s digestive system> it also activates the nerves to create a burning sensation. The toxic chemical in onions and garlic not only irritates the digestive system but also causes red blood cell damage which leads to devastating effects on your dog’s organs.

Why is spicy food harmful to dogs?

Food with spicy peppers contains the irritating chemical capsaicin. This substance signals heat-sensitive nerves in the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and causes a burning sensation. In response to the irritation, dogs may hypersalivate, vomit, have diarrhea, or experience abdominal pain.

Onions and garlic are often included in spicy dishes. These ingredients carry a chemical that weakens the membrane of red blood cells and causes them to burst. The sudden loss of blood cells leads to anemia. As a result, the body’s organs can’t get enough oxygen to function properly. 

Capsaicin in spicy foods triggers heat-sensing nerves so dogs feel a burning sensation. This can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Toxic chemicals in onions and garlic attack ted blood cell membranes causing them to burst. This results in anemia and prevents organs from getting enough oxygen.

How do vets treat dogs that eat spicy foods?

You can usually treat your dog at home if he eats food with spicy peppers as long as there weren’t any onions or garlic. On the other hand, if the dish included onions or garlic, or your pup is in distress you should bring your pooch to the vet for treatment. Following an examination, therapy may include:

  • Inducing vomiting if your dog ate the food in the past few hours
  • Neutralizing the caustic oils with activated charcoal 
  • ProIV fluids to treat dehydration
  • Pain medications
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Oxygen supplementation
  • Blood transfusions

If your dog eats food with spicy peppers and shows signs of distress, or if the food contains onions or garlic, you should head to the vet. Treatment for the condition may include actions to remove or bind the toxins and supportive care.

How long is the recovery?

The effects of capsaicin usually last about 12-24 hours, so your pooch should recover from eating spicy foods in about a day. When it comes to garlic and/or onions, your dog may require care and monitoring for days to weeks. 

It generally takes 12-24 hours to recover from the effects of capsaicin, but it may take days to weeks to return to normal after ingesting foods with garlic or onions.

The Final Woof

Food that contains spicy chemicals is not toxic, but it is irritating to a dog’s digestive system. When pups eat spicy foods, they get a burning sensation in their mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal system. It can trigger vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, and other symptoms. When the food includes onion or garlic, they may also develop anemia and adverse effects.

When your dog eats spicy foods, you may be able to treat him at home, However, you should take them to the veterinarian if he acts distressed, the symptoms don’t improve in a day, or the food included onions or garlic. Early intervention and supportive care can help to minimize the negative effects of the chemicals and reduce the risk of toxicity. Recovery from spicy food effects varies depending on the ingredients that were in the food.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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