Typically, when we recommend sharing human food with dogs, we advise you to serve the food as plainly as possible. Many seasonings, including garlic and onions, are toxic to dogs. But there are a few seasonings, like turmeric and ginger, that can actually have health benefits.
So, where does black pepper fall? Can dogs have black pepper, and is it good for them?
Black pepper falls somewhere in the middle of these two categories. It’s not toxic to dogs in the way that garlic and onions are, but it’s not good for them either — except when it’s mixed with another powerful spice (and we’re not talking about salt).
Here, we’ll explain when it’s okay to give your dog black pepper, when it might actually be beneficial, and what the risks are if your dog eats too much. Learn about the effects that this common household spice can have on your dog.
So, When Can Dogs Have Black Pepper?
Your dog can eat a small amount of black pepper when it’s sprinkled over a dog-safe human food, like lean meat or a dog-friendly fruit or vegetable. So, if you’re considering giving your dog a bite of last night’s chicken dinner, seasoned with salt and pepper, go for it.
But, if last night’s chicken dinner also contained a wide variety of other spices, you may want to think twice. Garlic, onions, and other members of the allium family (which also includes leeks, chives, and scallions) are toxic to dogs.
And while small quantities of black pepper are unlikely to irritate your pooch, peppers used in spicy foods — like cayenne pepper and chili pepper — contain capsaicin, which can cause a painful burning sensation if your dog eats them.
These peppers are often present in pepper crusts and blackening seasoning, so avoid feeding these foods to your furry friend. (On the other hand, bell peppers are actually good for dogs since they’re rich in antioxidants and don’t contain any capsaicin.)
Keep in mind, table scraps and dog treats combined shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. If they do, it could lead to weight gain or a nutrient imbalance. You should also avoid adding black pepper to food that you make specially for your dog.
While it’s safe if dogs eat black pepper in small quantities, black pepper offers no nutritional benefits for your best friend — with one exception. When you combine a small amount of black pepper with turmeric, it can provide incredible health benefits.
When Is Black Pepper Good for Dogs?
All by itself, black pepper doesn’t provide any benefits to our canine friends. But, when you mix it with turmeric, it creates a dynamic anti-inflammatory duo.
Turmeric for dogs offers a wide variety of benefits. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective form of natural pain relief. In a study on dogs with osteoarthritis, dogs who were given a curcuminoid extract (the anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric) had reduced pain markers after three months. In another study, pups given a dog food that contained curcumin showed increased antioxidant activity and improved health markers overall.
So, turmeric can have a powerful effect on your dog’s health. But when you combine this yellow spice with black pepper, that effect becomes even more powerful.
Black pepper contains a chemical compound called piperine. A scientific review found that when piperine was added to curcumin, it improved the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000% — that means piperine made it 2,000% easier for the body to absorb curcumin and reap the benefits.
That’s why we add a small amount of black pepper to our Relief Chews. It makes it easier for your dog to get the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric — one of the main ingredients in these air-dried supplements.
When Is Black Pepper Bad for Dogs?
So, we now know that dogs can have black pepper and that when a small amount of black pepper is mixed with turmeric, it can actually have health benefits. But, dogs should never consume a large amount of black pepper, and they should never sniff powdered black pepper or even whole black peppercorns.
If the black pepper is mixed into or sprinkled onto food, then sniffing it won’t typically cause problems. But, if your dog inhales a large quantity of black pepper, it can lead to respiratory problems. Inhaling a whole peppercorn can even obstruct your dog’s airway, so keep this spice up high in your spice cabinet where your dog can’t access it.
Most dogs won’t try to eat straight black pepper or whole black peppercorns because they don’t like the spicy taste. But, some dogs will eat anything that’s in front of them. If your dog accidentally consumes a lot of black pepper, it can lead to health problems ranging from minor issues to more serious problems that require veterinary care.
What Are the Side Effects of Too Much Black Pepper?
When your dog eats a large amount of black pepper, you may notice one or more of these side effects.
- Sneezing: Because black pepper is spicy, it can irritate your dog’s respiratory system, which may cause sneezing as your dog tries to rid the irritant from their airway. Sneezing isn’t usually serious and should be relieved in a minute or two. If the sneezing doesn’t stop or your dog appears to be having trouble breathing, contact your vet immediately.
- Stomach upset: The most common side effect of consuming too much black pepper is that it’ll upset your dog’s stomach. You may notice loose stool or mild diarrhea for a day or two after your dog’s dietary indiscretion. Try feeding pumpkin or a probiotic supplement to support your dog’s digestive system during this time. If the diarrhea lasts for more than 48 hours or your dog starts vomiting, contact your vet.
- Anal sac disease: In severe cases, dogs that eat too much black pepper can get anal sac disease, a disorder that leads to clogged and infected anal glands. People often mistake this disorder for hemorrhoids. If you notice swelling or pustules around your dog’s anus, contact your vet.
In most cases, eating too much black pepper will lead to discomfort for your dog, but it won’t require medical attention. However, if you suspect your dog has consumed a large amount of black pepper, you should monitor them closely over the next 48 hours and contact your vet if you notice any of the more severe side effects listed above.
Don’t Spice Things Up Too Much
While dogs can safely eat leftovers from the dinner table that are sprinkled with a little black pepper, this spice is best used sparingly. It doesn’t offer any nutritional benefits to your best friend, and in large quantities, it can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects, including an upset stomach, sneezing, and anal sac disease.
So, yes, dogs can have black pepper, but most of the time, they shouldn’t — with one exception. A small pinch of black pepper added to turmeric can make the anti-inflammatory compounds in turmeric more bioavailable, which can have big benefits for your best friend.
To give your dog the powerful anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric mixed with a pinch of black pepper, try our air-dried Relief Chews. This all-natural supplement is ideal for senior dogs and dogs suffering from joint pain. It’s one of the easiest ways for dog owners to add turmeric and black pepper to their dog’s diet.
For more information on your dog’s health and wellness, check out the Native Pet blog.